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Among the things that few churches can survive are: division; moral failure; and a sustained period of either plateau or decline. Church growth studies show that, just like most things God created including people, churches also have a life cycle. These studies further show that very few churches which exist longer than 50 years will experience continued growth. Most will plateau, decline and eventually die.
The church in Corinth was not that old but certainly its life span was in jeopardy because of the other issues. The question facing them in Paul’s first letter was – will they repent, accept correction and turn things around? The monumental problems they faced made that possibility very tenuous. Churches are notoriously difficult to change once set on a downward path.
But occasionally there is hope and good news. There are some incredible stories in modern church growth that highlight “breakout” or “turnaround” churches. These are churches that were locked into mediocrity, traditions and sinful practices, but found God’s grace and power sufficient to see changes occur and a growth pattern reestablished. Usually that comes with a combination of: a “godly sorrow” that leads the members to repent; a gifted and passionate leader surfaces; the sinful element being purged; and a period of revival that allows joy and evangelism to resurface.
Corinth was the poster child for amazing comebacks. Paul writes his second letter to tell how happy, proud and thankful he was for them and their heart to still follow God. Amidst that joy, he and others were going through some painful sufferings and challenges. And so this letter comes to them, and remains for our benefit, to be encouraged that in spite of sufferings, issues, and sin, God still loves, cares and empowers his people and his churches!
Here’s the five-day reading plan for 2 Corinthians:
Day 1 – Chapters 1-6 – Discover who you are in Christ
Day 2 – Chapter 7 – The crux of the matter
Day 3 – Chapter 8-9 – A life of trust and generosity
Day 4 – Chapters 10-11 – Paul’s defense
Day 5 – Chapters 12-13 – Paul’s “thorn” and his heart for them
Welcome to my new blog.
For the first several weeks, it will be devoted exclusively to the teaching series for this summer at the Ranchland Church where I serve as Pastor. After that we will broaden out the topics on the general theme of churches and disciples staying spiritually healthy and well-balanced.
The thirteen week summer series is titled “First Century Facebook” centering around the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul and imagining that were Paul writing today, he would utilize most of our communication tools, including social media. Of course, the Word of God does stay alive and relevant to every age and culture!
But how do you cover in one Sunday message or even one week’s time the incredible teachings found in each of Paul’s letters? It will obviously be fast-paced and concise as we seek to do an overview of each book. To do that I am using as a resource the world-renown ”Be” series of commentaries authored by the prolific writer, commentator and pastor, Warren Wiersbe. His “Be” series now cover not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well. One of the unique features of this monumental work is that Wierbe sums up each book of the Bible with just two words: “Be _______________.”
Using his titles and themes, here are the topics we will be following during the summer both in this blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter and the Sunday messages at Ranchland Church (www.ranchlandchurch.com):
- Romans – “Be Right” – June 5
- 1 Corinthians – “Be Wise” – June 12
- 2 Corinthians – “Be Encouraged” – June 19
- Galatians – “Be Free” – June 26
- Ephesians – “Be Rich” – July 3
- Philippians – “Be Joyful” – July 10
- Colossians – “Be Complete” – July 17
- 1 Thessalonians – “Be Ready: For Christ’s Return” – July 24
- 2 Thessalonians – “Be Ready: In Spite of Hardships” – July 31
- 1 Timothy – “Be Faithful: To Your Calling” – August 7
- 2 Timothy – “Be Faithful: In Your Beliefs” – August 14
- Titus – “Be Faithful: In Your Station” – August 21
- Philemon – “Be Faithful: In Your Relationships” – August 28