What is it going to take for the church in North America to become vibrant, powerful and able to fulfill the mission that God has given it to pursue? Along with the need for a special anointing of the Holy Spirit and a revival of Holiness to fall upon our churches I also feel that there is another major component that has been missing for a very long time. This component comes from a doctrinal distinctive that Baptist and other groups have believed but I have not been fleshed out to its fullest extent in Christian living in these recent times. And that is the doctrine of:
According to James Leo Garrett Jr.:
had been scattered preached the word wherever they went."
Acts 8:1, 4 (NIV)
Who were the ones who went out preaching the word? Not the apostles for they remained in Jerusalem. It was those ordinary believers who had to scattered due to the persecution. These ordinary believers left Jerusalem and went to other towns and when they got there they began to preach the good news of Christ. As people began to receive Christ and his salvation those same ordinary believers gathered those new followers into small communities of faith (churches) that met in houses.
They weren't professionals! They hadn't received any special training from some fancy institution! They were just your garden variety believers who understood that their responsibility was to faithfully share the good news and gather the people together (church) to learn what they had learned.
We see this same process happening all over the world where there is an explosion of a church planting movement. Churches in India, China, Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America are all being started and multiplying at an exponential rate. The church is growing so fast in those areas that it is out growing the general population. In contrast the church in North America is growing slower than the general population. Why? Why is the church in the rest of the world growing faster than the church in North America? I believe, in part, it is because the church in North America has failed to: