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The gospel didn’t begin in the New Testament. It was there, “In the beginning,” at the genesis of everything. Across the whole of human history, God’s grand narrative of love and redemption has been unfolding, a love gloriously displayed at the cross. This is the story of Jesus, and all history and Scripture point us to this good news. The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered Bible study resource that deeply examines the grand narrative of Scripture and how it transforms the lives of those it touches. Every session immerses participants—adults, students, and kids—in the gospel through every story, theological concept, and missional charge from Genesis to Revelation.\
The church I pastor, the Summit Church, was planted in 1962. In 2001, however, the Summit Church (then Homestead Heights Baptist Church) was a plateaued, declining Baptist church. The current pastor had been asked to resign after being caught in immorality. The pastor prior to him had unsuccessfully attempted to impose a Willow Creek model, and the pastor prior to him was a theological moderate. When I arrived, the church was in its fourth straight year of attendance and offering decline, and the outlook was bleak. Five Life-Giving Factors Only God brings life to dead things. But here are five lessons I learned that I believe contributed to our church’s revitalization.
The beginning of a new year inevitably brings a plethora of predictions, resolutions, and trends. I see no need to alter that course in this article. My assignment is simple; but my conclusions are debatable. I am providing twelve trends for 2012 in the healthiest churches we have observed. A few caveats are necessary. First, the trends are for healthy churches. They are not inclusive of all 400,000 American churches, much less the millions of churches around the world. Second, the trends are based on both detailed empirical research and anecdotal observations. In other words, I can point to some outstanding research projects for my conclusions in some cases. In other cases, I am simply expressing what I hope is an informed opinion. Third, the trends are not ranked in order of any priority.
In my article yesterday, I noted that the beginning of a new year inevitably brings a plethora of predictions, resolutions, and trends. I chose to follow that same pattern. I am thus providing twelve trends for 2012 in the healthiest churches we have observed. Remember the three caveats I noted. First, the trends are for healthy churches. They are not inclusive of all 400,000 American churches, much less the millions of churches around the world. Second, the trends are based on both detailed empirical research and anecdotal observations. In other words, I can point to some outstanding research projects for my conclusions in some cases. In other cases, I am simply expressing what I hope is an informed opinion. Third, the trends are not ranked in order of any priority.
Secret Church Simulcast is six intense hours of biblical teaching and prayer for the persecuted church led by David Platt. It's a great way for your group to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. David is the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama and the author of The New York Times bestseller Radical. THE CROSS AND SUFFERING Last year, thousands of churches and small groups all over the world participated in Secret Church via a LifeWay simulcast. And the impact was phenomenal. This coming Good Friday, April 6, 2012, churches and small groups again have the opportunity to participate in yet another Secret Church. Suffering is a sobering reality in a fallen world. Followers of Christ are not immune to adversity and affliction. On the contrary, there is a real sense in which following Christ means that trials and tribulations are more likely to come our way. As a result, whether walking through sickness, sorrow, pain, or persecution, the questions abound: Why am I suffering? Where is God when I suffer? How can I suffer well? When will my suffering end? How can God be good and allow such evil in the world? How can God be gracious and ordain such suffering in my life?