by Roger Thomas

Those Incredible Christians
Roger Thomas
Acts 1:1-8; 17:6; 28:28-31
June 6, 2004

Introduction: Acts is the history book of the New Testament. Dr. Luke tells the incredible stories of incredible Christians. Those first Christians took the message from the back rooms of Jerusalem to the palace halls of Rome. Those were exciting days to be a Christian.

But so is today! It can be hard to see the forest for the trees when you live in the woods. It is hard for us to recognize some of the incredible stories unfolding around us. These are exciting days to be a New Testament Christian!

For forty years I have watched with great interest the growth and development of independent non-denominational Christian Churches. It has been a roller coaster at times. But I can say without reservation that today we live in incredible times. Our days mirror the era when this congregation was launched. During the last forty years or so of the 19th Century, the Christian Churches became the fastest growing religious group in American. They weren't the biggest, but they were expanding faster than any other. Unfortunately it didn't last. Early in the 20th Century division and then theological apathy decimated the movement.

I have watched our remnant of that heritage begin to stir again over my lifetime. In 2002, the New York Times carried a major religious story reviewing the growth experience of American churches during the decade of the 1990's (Laurie Goodstein, Sept., 19, 2002). The conclusion? The independent Christian Churches were growing faster than any other mainstream Christian group. I put it that way because only the Mormons showed a slightly faster rate. During the decade the churches with whom we would identify expanded by 18.6 percent. I am not absolutely confident in the numbers. After all, tabulating the growth of a decentralized, independent, non-denominational network of congregations is at best a hit and miss proposition. But even if th ...

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