We have been studying the marks of excellence in church work.  And, in this segment we have been looking at the point that the early church had an undeniable commitment.

            A Commitment to learning

            A Commitment to fellowship and,

In this segment, we look at A Commitment to A Life of Prayer.

Prayer is the key that unlocks the door to effective ministry.  “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14).  “And they were continually devoting themselves … to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42, 47).  Many problems creep into the life of a church because of a lack of prayer.

Jack R. Taylor declared: “I am convinced that the faith of the church is the failure in prayer” (Prayer: Life’s Limitless Reach, Broadman, 1977, page 34).  J Terry Young has written: “A spiritually minded people put more emphasis upon prayer that promotion.  Through prayer, the congregation has learned both to seek and to follow divine leadership (The Church-Alive and Growing, Broadman, 1978, page 35).

When we pray God does more.  Every time pastors and church staff members gather together with other staff members, they share church-related problems.  Many church leaders have expressed bewilderment at the lack of dedicated workers.  The church must have individuals to lead various organizations and groups.  Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38). 

Here is a point of emphasis:

Every Church Problem is A Spiritual Problem

Nongrowth is a spiritual problem.  A lack of workers is a spiritual problem.  A church “fight” is a spiritual problem.  The beginning point of solving a spiritual problem is prayer.

Prayer supplies the power for leading the church.  Prayer provides God the opportunity to reveal how you can lead workers to grow and develop.

Jim Frease, pastor of Joy Church International in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, says,  Do not tell God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big your God is.

Because of what the early church did,

The Early Church Possessed the Desired Growth

This, too, is a mark of excellence in leadership.   Luke described the results of a church possessing a dynamic power, a definite purpose, divine godliness, and an undeniable commitment.  The result – growth without end.  Luke wrote in Acts 2:41 and 47, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls…And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  Luke provides additional insight in Acts to describe the growth of the church.  “But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand (Acts 4:4).  “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number” (Acts 5:14).  “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number…” (Acts 6:1).  These are only a few verses recording the rapid growth of the early church.  Additional references may be found in Acts 6:7; 9:31, 35,42; 11:21,24; 14:1,2; 16:5; 17:12.

The fact is the early church experienced this type of growth because of a commitment to Christ’s cause, a commitment which was demonstrated in the excellence of salvation, discipleship, training, and development.

The bottom line is that God wants your church to grow numerically and spiritually.  Growth ensues because of a commitment to the task God has set before the church.  It requires extraordinary people in an ordinary world to make a difference.  The early church possessed the marks of excellence.  And the result was that it grew rapidly and numerically.  So can yours!