14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young will see visions.
Your elders will dream dreams.
18 Even upon my servants, men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be changed into darkness,
and the moon will be changed into blood,
before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this.
38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day. (Acts 2:14-22, 38-41, Common English Bible).
In June of 1991 we moved to a church outside of Midway, Texas. It was culture shock. We were 9 miles from Midway. There was only one consumer business in town a convenience store closed at 6:00.
I loved Elwood. They taught me and loved my family. It was the best place to begin ministry.
It was a sad day in 2012. I had a Conference Trustees meeting. The agenda included selling property.
The first property hurt. We quickly voted to sell Elwood. Elwood wasn’t a church now. Over 150 years of ministry archived. I’d closed churches. This one was different.
I once took youth on a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe, Dallas. The Hard Rock’s home was odd, the former McKinney Avenue Baptist Church. It was a beautiful building but they replaced the original stained glass with Elvis, The Beatles, and others. The bar was, in the back of the former sanctuary. I wondered what happened.
Things don’t stay the same. The world changes. Things changed for Hard Rock. They moved to a former Mercedes dealership, the church is gone. A high-rise took its place.
Was anyone praying before the church’s demise? At Elwood ? Others? Equally important, besides members, did anyone notice they closed?
Years ago, Sue Kibbey spoke at Annual Conference. She talked about breakthrough prayer defining it as asking God to break through, working where we can’t.
Yesterday we talked of God breaking through in our communities. Today is about praying God will break through in our churches.
Our lesson saw the disciples praising God, for 3000 converts. This story is soaked in prayer. It had to be for that to happen. We must be people of praise and prayer! They praised God and God showed up!
They prayed and God responded with 3000 people saved in one day! Can you imagine if God broke through our communities?
We may believe there aren’t unchurched around us, statistics say differently. Some say “We like our churches like they are.” If we don’t grow, we die.
Jesus said make disciples. He didn’t add “If you like your church as is don’t worry about it.” We are in the disciple business, but not doing it well.
God wouldn’t have made the Pentecost breakthrough without praying. God will breakthrough when people pray. Peter quotes Joel saying, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams.” Visions and dreams change lives.
Churches must be known in the community. I’ve discovered too many churches are secrets, sometimes even in plain sight.
Ask people to tell you where your church is located. Ask, “Could you tell me where I can find ABC church?” Don’t ask friends. They likely know. Ask strangers. For our churches to not be Elwood, they can’t be secrets.
Our congregations must be breakthrough prayer centers. We need to pray God will break through our churches .
Every Sunday, Walter opened the church. In cold weather, he lit the stove. If it was hot, he opened windows and put out cardboard fans.
He read the Scriptures and prayed. He prayed God would remember his church.
This story is unique. Each Walter worshiped alone. Why? Epworth was on property that reverted to the original owners if worship stopped
So? Let it go. That wasn’t an option for Walter. He had a vision. But Walter had to patient.
One Sunday a family visited. After meeting Walter they stayed for worship. They thought the church was special. They came back and the children brought friends.
Epworth is still small. Many have died or moved away, but the miracle Epworth is alive. On the first Sunday of August, people come to relive the story of Walter.
Families walk to the cemetery. Parents tell children the story of Walter.
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved