Acts 2 Church Health
To help churches fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment by modeling the behavior of the Acts 2 Church.
Developing pastors - Equipping Churches - Fulfilling God's vision
We believe our church health efforts and initiatives must be within reach of every pastor and every congregation regardless of church size or geographic location. We believe a commitment of time, focus, and resources must be made to fulfill our mission.
We believe our pursuit of the Holy Spirit's direction is the first step toward helping pastors and lay leaders find solutions for their church. We cannot offer solutions until we have engaged the Holy Spirit's help in the unique challenges each church faces.
We believe that every church can reach its full kingdom spiritual potential through a process of achieving spiritual health; spiritual and numeric growth; and godly, biblical leadership. Each victory may not happen in a moment but will be the result of a strategically intentional effort.
Growing churches are led by growing leaders and populated with growing people. We believe a maintenance mentality will never generate missional effectiveness.
We believe that local church health requires a team and cannot be achieved by the pastor alone. The challenging journey to health requires multiple gifts and the kind of encouragement only a team can provide.
We believe that cultural relevance is achieved by contextualization, adaptability, innovation, and continual improvement enabled by the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the Jesus style of servanthood. We pledge to serve all who engage the Acts 2 Journey Initiative in a spirit of humility with a commitment to excellence.
Following is a case statement explaining the necessity of the commission.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord Jesus Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on His disciples, empowering them to be witnesses to Him to the ends of the earth. Acts 2, which reports that initial outpouring, is not merely a historical precedent for Christians today but also a spiritual paradigm-a pattern of renewal and revival in every generation of the Church.
This paradigm can be identified as the Acts 2 Model. In the Acts 2 Model, the church is a Spirit-empowered community of disciples following Jesus and fulfilling His mission. It is a healthy church that embodies five key traits:
- Worship - pursuing and obeying God passionately
- Connect - engaging and maintaining loving relationships
- Go - developing and mobilizing its people
- Serve - acting with clear direction and outward focus
- Grow - reproducing and multiplying God's mission in other people and places
As Pentecostals and Charismatics, we identify closely with the Acts 2 Model.
The obvious question then is: How well do Pentecostal and Charismatic churches embody the key traits of an Acts 2 church? While it is obvious the first century church had its problems and faced numerous challenges, it also was a dynamic force in impacting the world. The twenty-first century Spirit-empowered church also has problems and faces complex and difficult challenges.
Per Pew Research, the religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world's major religions as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050:
- The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
- Atheists, agnostics, and other people who do not affiliate with any religion-though increasing in countries such as the United States and France-will make up a declining share of the world's total population.
- In Europe, Muslims will make up 10 percent of the overall population.
- India will retain a Hindu majority but will also have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
- In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-fourths (3/4) of the population in 2010 to two-thirds (2/3) in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the United States than people who identify as Jewish, based on religion.
The United States and all North America will be similarly impacted by these trends as well. In addition to the shifting of the global religious landscape, terrorism, moral relativism, acrimonious political divisions, and religious apathy are adversely affecting the effectiveness of the evangelical churches in North America.
Acknowledging negative external forces as formidable challenges to the Church is acceptable, but the Church cannot control those issues. We cannot only be reactive but must also become proactive. The Church must reach its full kingdom potential and fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
If, as many church leaders have stated, a healthy, Spirit-empowered Church is the hope of the world, how strong is the Church? How effective is it?
It is difficult to obtain data of just Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Renewalist churches; but following is some information that will be helpful in determining current reality:
- Approximately 66 percent of evangelical churches average less than 100 in attendance.
- Approximately 80 percent of evangelical churches average less than 200 in attendance.
- 13 million self-described atheists/agnostics in America.
- 33 million who answer "none" for their religion.
- Fastest growing "faith group" in North America: "nonbelievers."
- Over one-half (1/2) of millennials (59 percent) have dropped out of church.
- Discipleship deficiencies "in virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives" (Dave Kinnaman). It is true; Pentecostals do somewhat better than non-Pentecostals, but there is always room for growth and improvement. Our mission has not been completed.
- Only 63 million Pentecostals in 1970.
- 631 million Pentecostals or 25 percent of all Christian believers today.
- Expected: 800 million Pentecostals by 2015.
Discovering a macro view of the Church at large can give necessary information and assist in "building the burning platform" (or as John Kotter says, "create a sense of urgency").
But what does a local church need to reach their kingdom potential?
There are two approaches to helping a smaller church get stronger: analyze by conducting surveys, interviews, and observations to determine their minimum health factors (weaknesses and problems) or affirm and build on their strengths. A combination of both is necessary. To overassess can lead a church to becoming fatalistic and lose hope. A very significant factor behind the lack of numerical growth in many small congregations is the low level of corporate self-esteem among the members, but ignoring present reality is like attempting to purchase an airline ticket by choosing a destination city without an origination city.
Only affirming the positive can lead to a very naïve view of current reality and encourage a church to blame external issues for their own failure to fulfill the commands of Christ. No church should ever measure themselves against their strengths but against the unfinished task of winning the lost. The most important number for any church is not how many people attended last week but how many people still need Jesus.
Smaller churches tend to focus more on nurture than mission.
Kent Hunter surveyed 15,000 evangelical Christians, and 80 percent said they thought the primary purpose of their church was for their personal comfort and care. If that is a prevailing thought in the churches we interact with, what can be done to assess, encourage, and strengthen them? How can they become more outward focused and less inward focused?
To become more like the first century church, an Acts 2 Church, there must first be a supernatural, Spirit-empowered encounter. Just like the early church experienced on the Day of Pentecost, we must engage the Holy Spirit and pray for revival. We must become empowered by the Holy Spirit.
A PCCNA Acts 2 Church Health Commission can be a tremendous catalyst in engaging the churches and ministries we represent, believing for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this generation, equipping church leaders to communicate the vision for an Acts 2 Church, and engaging churches in a process derived from Acts 2:42-47.
A primary goal of the PCCNA Acts 2 Church Health Commission is to assist churches in North America in answering the following questions:
- Why do we exist? Mission
- Where are we going? Vision
- How do we behave? Values
- How will we get there? Strategic plan
- How will we engage new people? GO (evangelism)
- How will we treat new people when they arrive? CONNECT
- How will we disciple them? GROW
- How will we train them for service or ministry? SERVE
- How will we connect them to God? WORSHIP
- How will we equip them for missions-both local and global? GO
Assistant General Superintendent, Assemblies of God