How many people does it take to make a church? One hundred twenty? Thats how many were gathered in the Upper Room awaiting the promised Holy Spirit. Or was it 3,000? That is the number reported in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 19, when Paul went to Ephesus, it says that he met with some of the Lords followers. He asked them, When you put your faith in Jesus, were you given the Holy Spirit? No! they answered. We have never even heard of the Holy Spirit. Then Paul placed his hands on them. And the Holy Spirit was given to them (Acts 19:1-7). Dr. Luke says there were about twelve men in this church.. So I ask again, how many is the right number to be a church?
Being a district superintendent for the past 18 years, I can tell you that there is a greater probability of success when you organize a new church with 100 in contrast to one of 25. At our recent District Assembly the Harvest Strategy Team challenged us to start sixty new churches or compassionate ministry centers by 2020. Those who were present for my report may recall that the Board of General Superintendents in the Church of the Nazarene put forth a new definition of a church. With the church planting movement that has flourished in the Horn of Africa and other parts of the world, we need to know: when is a group of disciples a church? How many does it take? Heres what our friends on the BGS have said:
Any group that meets regularly for spiritual nurture, worship, and instruction at a communicated time and place, with an identified leader, and aligned with the message and mission of the Church of the Nazarene, with the purpose of becoming an organized local church, may be recognized as a church and reported as such (18 February 2013).
Its time to enlarge our vision for the new thing God is doing in our time. His church meets under trees, in classrooms, at restaurants, even in homes. Join us in enlarging your vision of what could be a new church. Think about it: that small group you meet with regularly has the potential of becoming a new church. I see the potential for hundreds in Southern Florida. See? God is doing a new thing!
David F. Nixon, D.Min.
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