In John 14:6 we read: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Stark examines other factors, such as paganism's weakness and the early church's social structure, which helped draw so many to the new faith. Once again the apostles were working many signs and wonders and men and women were being added to the church Acts 5:14. China). What are we to do with this information? Our remarks for this article will come from Acts 4. A more formal Church structure grew out of the early communities, and variant Christian doctrines developed. First was the problem of identity. Unfortunately there is an on-going war in this technological age: Technophilia vs. Technophobia. This early history of the church simply reflected the teaching of the Bible as it recorded the nature and essence of the very first community of saints in this passage in the Book of Acts. 15, sometimes called  the  resurrection chapter, verse1-4  tell us that Gospel consists  of the fact that Jesus  died and  was buried and that He rose from the dead. Christ had died on the cross, so there was no higher honor than to imitate that death through accepting martyrdom (witness by one’s blood). Revivals were a key part of the movement and attracted hundreds of converts to new Protestant denominations. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. A good church website can help your church to grow. Dave DeVries - November 22, 2011. Your gift today will helps us produce and provide unlimited access to Orthodox faith-inspiring programming, services and community. Four Reasons Why Early Christianity Grew So Quickly. James taught, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). The early Christians didn’t attend church, they were the Church; an active, energized body of believers equipped to change the world. Share the Love of Orthodoxy Today! This article will examine those main reasons. For starters every peasant had to give up a portion of their weekly work to labour on church land for free. Don’t wait. We just saw that this isn't always true. Otherwise, the largest … Let’s lift up Jesus to a dying world. We believe in it so widely nowadays, at least on a theoretical level, only because Christianity incorporated it so successfully into the very being of Western civilization over centuries. Again and again, research shows that religious conversions happen “…through social networks, through a structure of direct and intimate interpersonal attachments.” Everyday friendships and the personal interactions of average believers are what makes the greatest difference — nowadays and in the past. English Standard Version So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. If we follow their example we too can … ), and to care for the most vulnerable members of society: little babies. Describe the factors that enabled the church to grow so quickly, both in numbers and in geographical extent. 2. Now there are more than 541 million. In Acts 4:2 we read the  following: “being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” As the Apostles were teaching, opposition arose from the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. The Catholic Church's power in the Middle Ages was primarily derived from a combination of belief, money and illiteracy. Dislike. For the purpose of our study modules, we define the early church as the first six hundred years of church history. However, before being able to understand or grasp what the true current situation is, one must have some background. A theology of love The Church in the Bible: The Epistles. If we are willing to learn from the  experiences of the  early church, we can have church  growth. 2 Liberty and Technocracy: JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and an Orthodox Fourth of July. The Second Great Awakening, which spread religion through revivals and emotional preaching, sparked a number of reform movements. Help us bring the Orthodox Faith to the fingertips of Orthodox Christians worldwide! Devout men buried Stephen and made great lament… In our modern world of apathetic worship-goers and millennial church drop-outs, it seems incredible to us that there could ever have been a time when a church was growing by thousands per day. The Early Church Had Boldness in Defense of the Truth. Doing so leads to very tangible demographic results: 40% growth per decade for hundreds of years. Kingdom Keys: Why The Early Church Grew. Yet an all-encompassing ethic of love is a radical idea. In Acts 4:12, we read: Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This passage declares that  salvation is in the Name of Jesus Christ. In spite of such severe opposition, the Church continued to grow until the time of Constantine when Christianity became one of the … Since the third century the Roman ‘Universal’ or Catholic Church, has been the largest and most dominant of all Christian … The early church's growth was often associated with meeting practical needs. Everywhere Christians went the preached … The book of Acts provides a detailed, orderly, eyewitness account of the birth and growth of the early church and the spread of the gospel immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.Its narrative supplies a bridge connecting the life and ministry of Jesus to the life of the church and the witness of the earliest believers. Among various points and case studies, he advances four main reasons for Christianity’s growth. God knows the hearts of people, and just because some people might want a church to grow because of ego does not mean all growth is bad. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The early church grew for many reasons. Introduction. The article that follows explores the history of persecution of the early church, some of the reasons behind it, and two important Christian responses to persecution: the glorification of martyrdom and the writings of the apologists. This experience, and its resulting martyrs and apologists, would have significant historical and theological consequences for the developing faith. Jews were left alone for the most part; it seemed best to Rome to just confine them and leave them alone. Several church leaders are yet to realize potential of a website for church growth. Ironically, the more the church was persecuted, the quicker the church grew. Your gift today will helps us produce and provide unlimited access to Orthodox faith-inspiring programming, services and community. The church was considered a religio prava, an illegal and depraved religion. In this passage we see the boldness of the  apostles. In developing his answer to this question, Stark combines historical research with insights from the social-scientific study of religious movements and conversion. Early Christianity (c. 31/33–324) Early Christianity is generally reckoned by church historians to begin with the ministry of Jesus (c. 27–30) and end with the First Council of Nicaea (325). Jesus  offers the only  hope there is! Join us in our Media Ministry Missions! The task it set before itself was stupendous. Pingback: The early church grew because they prayed « Believing Prayer, Pingback: Theology trumps methodology | Gospel Progress Mission Group, Help TFR to keep going, click here: A church of Christ can and will grow spiritually and numerically when it is faithful to the word of God. After this date, however, persecutions of Christians by government became widespread and violent. ° Christians were deviant in doctrine, active in evangelism, and threatening to the … Early Christians expected suffering. 7. There are several principal reasons for the decline of the Catholic Church. Chances are the only pastor a church member knew was the pastor at their local church or their neighbourhood church or someone they heard on TV or radio. The Church of Christ was ready to work together in her mission to reach the lost with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The Early Church was One in Christ Verse 32 tells us that the early church was one. Well this didn’t pay off for them because they both died instantly for their sin and because of the example the church grew in great fear of the Lord. If we, today, can put the into practice the methods used by the early church, we can have  church growth. The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. Therefore, the church grew and expanded as a largely Gentile community from 49 to 54 A.D. In The Rise of Christianity, Stark does the math, and shows that a social movement numbering only 1,000 people in 40 A.D. could easily grow to 25 or even 35 million by the fourth century, despite all of the challenges of the ancient world — if the members of the movement lived according to the principles spelled out above. The results, over time, were shifting social networks and regular conversions to this community of faith so dedicated to service. {4} The persecution under Decius was the first universal and organized persecution of Christians, and it would have lasting significance for the Christian church. When Claudius expelled all Jews from the city of Rome, however, only the Gentile Christians remained. Bad preaching and bad music can kill a church, but great preaching and great music don’t automatically generate church growth. Early Church Defined. Now it’s more like the cost of doing business. As the Early Church expanded, the shape of the early church networks that emerged is also important to understand as we strive to get back to “the way of Christ and His Apostles.” From a careful study of the New Testament and early church research, we have attempted to map the complex network of the early churches that emerged towards the end of the apostolic age. If we  know what we  believe and  why we  can have  boldness in presenting the  Gospel to a lost world. Look at the early church. The next pro… 3. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world. I won’t belabor you with all of the statistics and studies, but they’re in Stark’s book, if you want them: The Rise of Christianity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996). Christianity gave much needed dignity to human … It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. God has  told us to pray. From the early church onward, bishops could reduce or dispense with the rigours of penances, but indulgences emerged in only the 11th and 12th centuries when the idea of purgatory took widespread hold and when the popes became the activist leaders of the reforming church. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. ©2020 Orthodox Christian Network. Yet a full look at the evidence reveals that much more was at play. It will also help us work for the unity of all believers in Christ. The early church stressed the importance of proclaiming the  resurrection of the Lord of Glory, The  resurrection is the  driving force behind the Gospel. Verse 32 tells us that the  early church was one. The  narrative  centers on the  ministry of Peter and John. You will also get a coupon for 25% off your next order as our thanks to you! The church of the early Middle Ages. Most people in the … Yet a church website, specifically designed to reach outsiders, integrated with other … Many blamed him for his conduct. Over time, the Christian church and faith grew more organized. The most important one is the insistence that God loves the world He has created and that He desires those who love Him to also love their fellow man. Judaism, at the time of Jesus Christ, was a collection of several competing religious powers. It’s almost a cliche. Stance against adultery, abortion, and infanticide The Catholic Church put forth the belief that people could only get to heaven through the Church. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on … 23 Reasons for Rapid Church Growth. Remember, it is our  Creator that we are talking to. Join our email list to be the first to know about new product announcements and promotions, and once or twice a month you will receive exclusive content. The book of Acts provides a detailed, orderly, eyewitness account of the birth and growth of the early church and the spread of the gospel immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christianity was identified at first with Judaism, but people quickly came to see it as a different religion. To be faithful to God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ requires more than coming to Church; it also entails being the Church — that body of God’s adopted children called to manifest His love in the world. The early rise of Islam (632-700) The Muslim community spread through the Middle East through conquest, and the resulting growth of the Muslim … Pope is from a Latin word that means “father” (from which we also get the word "Papa"). In fact, it could be the rebirth of the church based on God’s movement and … We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. 10 Very Possible Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing: First of all, we must set aside the pietistic belief that Christianity’s early growth happened entirely because of miracles — the signs and wonders wrought by a special out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. After this he turned the blame upon the Christians and thousands were killed. And, in the end, healthy things grow. That is, most people in that age strongly believed in God, heaven and hell, and the Catholic Church was the center of that belief. Christianity grew apart from Judaism, creating its own identity by an increasingly harsh rejection of Judaism and of Jewish practices. Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter. In 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. The most dramatic example of … The definite structure of the early Church may have been one of the reasons for its success. In Acts 4:29 we read: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,”  They  believed in the  power of prayer and  also of  answered prayer. For the average person the Church was an all-consuming presence. and, for sentimental reasons, if you can get your hands on an older book, The Fathers Without Theology: The Lives and Legends of The Early Church Fathers by Marjorie Strachey. As Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion who has written extensively on the topic, put it: “ How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization?”. What  is the  “Good News?” I 1 Cor. Plagues, fires, natural disasters, and devastation from riots or war were semi-regular occurrences in the cities which the early Christians called home. The definite structure of the early Church may have been one of the reasons for its success. The first Christians therefore did not meet in separate churches but continued to meet in the local Jewish synagogues. The Church has seen dramatic and explosive growth in Asia, Africa and South America. Instead of fleeing to the countryside to escape the most recent plague, they stayed to care for their own — and for others. The Five Most Important Church Growth Principles These outreach principles work. Before 250, persecution of Christians was mainly sporadic and local rather than the result of a well-defined policy of the Roman government. It had a definite hierarchy – there were church elders, deacons, bishops, etc. No one comes to the Father except through Me. One example was in Acts 8:1-4 where Saul was going about killing and imprisoning Christians, but what was the result? Christianity, however, was a strange, new cult, and it began to spread across people groups and geographical boundaries. And, yes, I have also met church leaders who want their church to grow for questionable reasons too. Many are saying today that it does not matter what you believe in or  who you believe  in. If we pray, knowing that God hears, and expecting that God will answer in a way that will bring  glory to His Name, we can  have a victorious prayer life. Sometimes people just mean that the church grows numerically under persecution (e.g. Everywhere  Christians went the preached the Word. He holds an M.Div. Therein, we shall see a church that grew by right doing, dedication to the gospel message, a faithfulness to God.. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. In January of 250, Decius issued an edict requiring all citizens to sacrifice to the emperor in the presence … The early church spread across the known world. Like. The rapid growth of the early Christian church is a source of perennial fascination. http://gospeak.org/br/give/, Also read these fine articles and reports. Indeed, whenever the world persecutes the church, it just grows even more. Even without any knowledge of medical science, the simple act of providing food, water, and shelter to sick people vastly improved survival rates in times of widespread disease. Christianity grew when it remained an “open network” with connections into the lives of non-Christians. If we, as modern Christians, want similar results, we must act in the same manner. In the first  few chapters  of Acts we are told how the early church centered her ministries  in the city of Jerusalem. We must know what we believe and  why. This  glorious  event took place on the Day of Pentecost. Although the Roman church was always highly respected, the churches in the East generally had more numbers and more authority than those of the West. Jews were left alone for the most part; it seemed best to Rome to just confine them and leave them alone. After the ascension of Jesus, and the start of the church on Pentecost, the apostles and early … In the  3rd  chapter they had  just  healed the lame  man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. Luke writes, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. St Paul was one of the main leaders in the early church and he believed that the good news of Jesus was for all … Although some early writers speak of … Christians were over-represented in cities, which made them more influential than their numbers because culture tends to flow from cities to the countryside. The early church grew because they prayed « Believing Prayer, Theology trumps methodology | Gospel Progress Mission Group, 16 things you need to know about yourself, NBC author tells funny joke about the president elect, Uncomfortable problems the church needs to talk about (1), The Amazing Enduring Perseverance of the Apostle Paul. Some Christians would even rescue abandoned babies, raising them as their own. This section covers topics such as the Didache, Constantine’s conversion, the Council at Nicea, and the teachings of Augustine.. What does the Bible say about our soul never dying? On the top of these was the Holy spirti who helped the church to grow in spite of presecution and hard times. Christianity was identified at first with Judaism, but people quickly came to see it as a different religion. If you look up information on the history of Christianity, you may find things like, 'During the first century CE, Rome was rocked with the formation of a new religion. It had a definite hierarchy – there were church elders, deacons, bishops, etc. It took then, and takes today, boldness to  proclaim the  resurrection. And, more recently, the church in China blossomed during the twentieth century despite tremendous persecution. Bishops in the Early Church. It should be the  basis  of our message. Wave after wave of persecution was unleashed to squash it. The early Christians didn’t attend church, they were the Church; an active, energized body of believers equipped to change the world. When debates between the different factions of the faith became evident, bishops would meet in a synod to discuss the various points of issue; eventually the synod became an annual event. Jesus proved Himself to be the  Christ through the  resurrection. Early Church. … Another reason the argument appears to work is that we don't take the time to talk about what it means for the church to thrive. By. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated that God’s power was  greater than that of Satan. The actions described above — engaging one’s neighbor, caring for the sick, rescuing little babies — reflect certain Christian theological principles. Its narrative supplies a bridge connecting the life and ministry of Jesus to the life of the church and the witness of the earliest believers. Members of the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians derived it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses. … Let the  world know what Jesus means to us. However, that is precisely what we see in the first-century church in Jerusalem, starting in Acts chapter two. The church's influence on composition was extremely significant leading up to the Baroque Era. In time, the pope took on … The church of the early Middle Ages. Many of the  great figures  of the Old and New Testament were  people of  prayer. They had  not ventured out  as  Jesus had  commanded in Acts 1:8. In their zeal, they promoted the militant reclamation of once-Christian lands—first of Iberia in the … The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival during the early 19th century in the United States. We are left with prayer and hope, but no concrete action. 1 Persecution in the Early Church Reasons Stages Impact St. Blandina exposed to wild beasts The Amphitheater at Lyon The Church of Saint Blandina at Lyons Reasons for Persecution Jewish Persecution ° Most common in the New Testament period, when Christianity was a sect of Judaism. We read that these early … The eminent historian, Edward Gibbon, gave his assessment of five reasons for the growth of the early church saying: I. There are several important and interrelated reasons for the persecution of the early church. Caring for the sick, widows, and orphans 4. Social networks Research like Stark’s provides an unmistakable and powerful lesson: the regular witness of ordinary, every-day Christian people tending to the poor, the orphans, and the sick in their own urban communities contributed decisively to early Christianity’s tremendous growth. Religious life assumed new forms or reformed established ones, and missionaries expanded the geographic boundaries of the faith. In its first three centuries, the Christian church endured persecution at the hands of Roman authorities. 1st Under Nero A.D. 54-68 When Nero who had his wife and mother killed burned Rome, it lasted 9 days. Athanasios and Cyril – Stay Faithful to the Teachings of Christ, The Mystery of the Church and the Phenomenon of Heresies, Four Reasons Why Early Christianity Grew So Quickly, Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America. It makes the  church and  her mission  strong. The  Sanhedrin had commanded  Peter and John not to preach about the  resurrection under threat of punishment. The early church spread across the known  world. After Peter and John had been  released by the  Sanhedrin they went back to the rest of the  apostles and fellow believers to give  a report o what had transpired. The early  church declared that Jesus was the hope of the world. Jesus and his disciples were all Jews. The spread of the Christian church in its earliest centuries is one of the most amazing phenomena in all of human history. Over time, the Christian church and faith grew more organized. What does it mean that God is not a respecter of persons? The ancient Roman world was not kind to women and children. The book of Acts tells us on that day the  God of Heaven launched the Church of Christ. All of these beliefs and actions led to higher birth and adoption rates. Married men could sleep with other women (especially slaves and prostitutes), and the unwanted offspring of these unions were usually aborted or simply left to die from exposure after birth. It grew because Christians constituted an intense community, able to generate the "invincible obstinacy" that so offended the younger Pliny but yielded immense religious rewards. If we are willing to see how the early church existed among the  Jewish, Roman, and Greek cultures, and  implement their techniques, we too, can  experience church growth. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus promised to establish His Church. Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter. In Jude 3 there is a  passage that fits the  situation,  “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”. There are many  today who  do not  believe in the  bodily resurrection  of the Lord Jesus. Describe particularly the influences from Judaism, Greek culture, and the Roman empire. Certainly, the providence and grace of God is always an essential factor. Even in the 90s and early 2000s, as culture changed, to ‘follow’ another preach meant ordering their cassettes or CDs or tracking them in a very limited way in the early days of the internet. Jared W. LudlowThe book of Acts was written by Luke after his Gospel as the second part of a great two-volume work on Jesus Christ and the early Christians. Ignoring the other contributing factors has the unfortunate consequence of breeding complacency: if modern Christians think that the early Church’s growth was “merely” miraculous, then there’s little to learn and nothing to do. Verse 24-31 record that the early Chruch was  a  praying  church. Sometime more fundamental is shifting. Many Rip Van Wrinkles exist in contemporary times. As if this wasn’t enough they had to pay 10% of their earnings to the Church through a tax known as the tithe. Extent of the Persecutions . After this date, however, persecutions of Christians by government became widespread and violent. The total number of Christians martyred in the early church is unknown. All these activities are essential to growing in Christ, and all occur within the local church. During the thousand years of the Middle Ages, from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance, the papacy matured and established itself as the preeminent authority over the church. 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