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Reform Magazine | May 23, 2017

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Chapter & verse: Acts 2:4

Chapter & verse: Acts 2:4

prasad_andrewA mighty thunder, a rush of wind, the tongues of fire, a huge crowd and a passionate speech resulting in the baptism of 3,000. This was the first Pentecost!

A small band of 120 people attracted 3,000 new members; this numerical growth was at the very foundation of the Church. The time and context was different to ours, but, are there factors which might still be relevant?

Recently I visited Moradabad city in North India. I attended the service at the Old Methodist church on an ordinary Sunday (pictured above). It was packed. A few years ago, the worshipping community outgrew the building and built a larger church. When that began to overflow, the old site was renovated to accommodate them. A quarter of the worshippers come from non-Christian backgrounds. The offertory included not just money but the incense, candles and flowers usually offered in Hindu temples.

Church membership decline is confined to the West. A significant minority of United Reformed churches are below the critical mass to exist as an organisation. Restructuring to manage decline is not the answer. We must prayerfully seek the Pentecost Spirit that leads to church growth. I invite you to imagine what Pentecost would look like in our communities today:

Bold: The disciples, keeping a low profile even after Jesus’ resurrection appearances, suddenly became confident, because they were eyewitnesses to Jesus and received the Holy Spirit. We need something of the same strength today. We have no eyewitnesses, but through faith we can identify with the testimony of the eyewitnesses contained in the Gospel and we seek afresh the gift of the Spirit. Jesus was condemned by the temple authorities and crucified by the Romans. His story was a scandal. But the apostles reinterpreted the executed criminal as the one appointed by God to be Lord and Messiah…

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This is an extract from the June 2014 edition of Reform.

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