Ben used the example set in Acts 2: 42-47, the Fellowship of the Believers to underline and reinforce the five points that had been set out by the diocese of York on the Five Marks of a Growing Church.
However, Ben first started by saying that the most important thing a church could do and that our natural posture and attitude as disciples of Christ should be to simply wait. To wait on God and the power of His Holy Spirit before doing any work; we need to seek Gods vision for how we can join in with the mission of God.
The first of the Five Marks was that we need to become more Christ-like. This is the fundamental call of a disciple, to be more like Christ and therefore to act more like Him and more of His heart for the poor, weak and marginalised of society. To be more like Jesus though, we need to spend more time with Him. Prayer is such an important aspect of our Christian life; if we're not spending time with just us and God how can we know Him better and then by proxy become more like Him?
Secondly, we need commitment. Our first commitment is to Jesus, to seeking His kingdom. Our second commitment has to be to each other, we may not always like each other at times but we are always called to love each other. Are we showing the same levels of generosity and hospitality demonstrated by the early church?
Partnership was next on the list. We're all partners in the gospel and because of this fact we need to also partner with other churches as well as with each other; there is so much that we can learn from each other whether it's different ways of 'doing church' and worshiping God or just different ways of living out our faith; if we are in partnership with each other then we can learn from each other.
Fourthly was that we should be a people of influence. As disciples of Christ we need to be like the light in a hill. We need to be living out our faith so that the people around us are strengthened and encouraged. This isn't to make us look good, rather it's so that through the influence we have over others that we can point to Jesus as the way the truth and the life. Ben pointed out that the influence the apostles had meant that they went from a group of eleven scared men that, in just twenty seven generations, has grown to a global church of two billion people.
Lastly Ben talked about how the final sign of a growing church is numbers. Ben pointed out that we don't need to be embarrassed about numbers but that Jesus told us to go out and make more disciples. We don't count people to gloat and tell ourselves how well we're doing, rather we count people, because people count.
So all in all an amazing night at #the7 some really great sung worship led by Tom, a great time of prayer with lots of people stepping out in faith going to the front for prayer and great and very challenging talk. Good times!