We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day.
Thoughts for Today:It must have been really gratifying for the early followers of Jesus Christ to see over their lifetime, Christianity grow from such a small, tightly knit beginning with just a few to now where Paul and his companions could find believers in virtually every city they visited. I'm sure it was comforting as well.
When I was growing up it seemed church members were more comforted by meeting others of their own denomination (Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.) rather than simply of their faith. Denominations that were at one time formed to liberate a particular Christian ideal, value, or worship methodology seemed to polarize disagreement and serve as a launching pad for political agendas.
Today, all over America, we find many of these long-standing churches of various denominations are dying, all but empty. Yet across town -- the non-denominational church, meeting in the local high school, is packed with both young and old alike and growing by leaps and bounds. Why? I believe it is because during the revival years of the seventies and eighties, the Lord led us away from denominational rules and restrictions and back to Bible-based teaching. The result has been simply amazing church growth -- after all, if you teach it (the Bible) they will come. The question remains for many churches: Do they really want anyone new?
Questions to Ponder:I went to a church while out of town recently -- the songs were the same, the sermon was familiar, I even took communion -- the problem was there were no children -- they hadn't had a new family join the church in over ten years. It was aging and dying. When I walked through the door I immediately felt judged, "What is he doing here?" As if I shouldn't be there and wasn't welcome. I felt like an intruder in someone's home. It made me wonder what their purpose was because I surely did not feel a heartfelt "Welcome to the Family of Christ." How is your church doing? Is it growing? Are new people joining? Are you baptizing new believers regularly? Does anything need to change? How can you be a part of that change -- warmly greeting new people to the Body of Christ?