Meaty New Testament Church Growth Paradigm

meat of the Word

I recently finished a class I was teaching on The Acts of the Apostles. The entire Bible study was such a powerful and glorious reminder of the first thirty years of the church age. As I went through the text each week I was impressed by a recurrent theme in the beginnings of the Christian movement. I was overwhelmed by the clear Apostolic focus on the Word of God. The emphasis on the Scripture was unrelenting and unmistakable. The early Christians didn’t thrive on a light diet of topical studies heavy on anthrocentric (people centered) applications. They were served serious meat that was theocentric (centered on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ). The first century church was carnivorous…for the Word of God.

Check on these 25 references in the book’s 28 chapters:

Acts 4:31

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly.

Acts 6:2
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables.

Acts 6:4
and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word.”

Acts 6:7
So the Word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 8:4
Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went.

Acts 8:14
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.

Acts 8:25
When they had testified and proclaimed the Word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

Acts 11:1
The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God.

Acts 12:24
But the Word of God continued to increase and spread.

Acts 13:5
When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

Acts 13:7
The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the Word of God.

Acts 13:44
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord.

Acts 13:46
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the Word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:48
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the Word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

Acts 13:49
The Word of the Lord spread through the whole region.

Acts 14:25
and when they had preached the Word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

Acts 15:35
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the Word of the Lord.

Acts 15:36
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the Word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”

Acts 16:6
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in the province of Asia.

Acts 16:32
Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.

Acts 17:13
When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the Word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.

Acts 18:11
So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the Word of God.

Acts 19:10
This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the Word of the Lord.

Acts 19:20
In this way the Word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Acts 20:32
“Now I commit you to God and to the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

The contemporary American church often looks to popular congregation building formulas for success. We attend seminars that focus on new and improved growth trends. We read all the books on the latest strategies for “effective” ministry. By contrast, the first century church only had the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in their own language. That combination was enough to create a movement that swept through the world. It was said of them that they “have turned the world upside down” Acts 17:6 KJV I obviously believe we would see similar results if we put more emphasis on the Word of God and less on strategies and methods from the culture. Heavens, we have the Scripture in our own language and minimize it’s value while thousands don’t have a single word in their own language and are often…literally…dying to get it. Lord, “reduce” us to relying on the meat of Your Word

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