- Scripture promises forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13).
- Scripture pictures forgiven sin as being removed… as being cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19); as being cast behind my back (Isaiah 38:17); and as far as east is from the west (Psalm 103:120).
- Christ’s blood cleanses the conscience (Hebrews 9:13-14).
- Forgiven people can forgive others. If you can forgive offenses, you can be certain that God, who describes Himself as merciful, will forgive you.
Today’s culture tells us that all we need is love. But in the end, love wasn’t even enough to keep the Beatles together. It’s ironic that a band that sang such great love songs ultimately had no love for each other. That’s because love is more than just a song, a dream, or feeling.
The commitments we make are like magnets: they pull toward each other. In friendship, commitment means being there for someone even when it’s not convenient. In family relationships it’s being by someone’s side even after years of dealing with a disappointing father or brother stuck in addiction. In marriage, commitment means that divorce isn’t an option.
I’ve written on this in the past but after reading Michael Fletcher’s “Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth” I discovered one more area in which our church hasn’t changed. And according to Fletcher, if we’re going to break through the 200 ceiling, we’ll need to change our church culture’s understanding on this important issue.
Here’s how he puts it:
Small churches, without realizing it, intuitively resist growth at some point since continued growth threatens the closeness they so enjoy. After a certain number of relationships, a person just doesn’t have room for more. Folks cannot remember everyone’s name but somehow feel they should. Not knowing everyone, and the underlying guilt that says we should, produces an awkwardness that actually pushes others away. Small churches fear that growing might destroy the family they have become (55).
For a church to break through the 100/200 barrier…The people must accept the fact that they will not be able to know everyone in the church. This does not mean they must give up a sense of family, but it does mean that they will have to learn to experience it in other ways. Properly done, this barrier can be broken without destroying the great fellowship members have been enjoying. New circles of fellowship must be developed, and even multiplied, to prompt continued growth (57).
What do you think? Is Fletcher right or wrong? Why is it important for a local church to strive for continued growth?
Many times Paul asked the churches of his time to pray for him (see Ephesians 6:18-19; Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Why? Why must we ask someone to pray for us or with us? Does not God hear the prayers of each one of his children?
You should want others to pray for you for at least 2 reasons:
- The prayers of others strengthen your prayer times.
- Others see factors you may fail to see.
Unified prayer is more powerful than individual prayer. Praying together demonstrates that we are God’s people.