I Want What They’ve Got

I tend to be an inductive thinker. Especially when reading a book of substance. I dive in to gain insight or learn from the specific examples. Gradually I begin to see the patterns and can begin to draw a bigger picture and meaning.

I’m reading (again) on the Church Fathers. These were remarkable men. That’s why they remain subjects of books and discussion.

The pattern just came to mind while I was thinking of the one I’m currently reading. These guys were all great leaders. At a time when a new church was forming while it was being actively persecuted by the government and on through when it had become an “official” religion of the Roman Empire, they kept churches motivated, solved internal political crises, eventually worked with government leaders, and assured that the original theology was maintained. They were thinkers and doers.

Then it dawned upon me. None of these were what we’d call evangelists. There were no John Wesleys out in the coal fields preaching to the poor.

How did the church grow in numbers?

This is relevant today, right?

This is a hard thing to research, evidently. We have Acts 2. We have a few sources. What I’ve been able to uncover with some research follows this scenario–people lived crowded lives in cities; everyone knew everybody’s business, some people joined the new faith, they began to live in a completely different manner exhibiting joy and peace and optimism; when crises like pandemics occurred, these people pitched in and helped even at great personal risk. And their neighbors said, “I want what they’ve got.”

And that is how the church grows today in Asia and Africa and other places.

Two questions:

Has your spiritual formation reached the point where people notice without your continually telling them?

Does your group/church/denomination exhibit people with this peace and joy and service and unity and optimism that attracts people like iron filings to a magnet?

Maybe a third question–why not?

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