The Send Network Church Planting Blog

5 Tests to Determine if Your Church Is Truly Gospel-Centered: Part 3

August 15, 2012 by J.D. Greear
The following is part three of a five-part summation of a message given by J.D. Greear to local pastors and church leaders at the Advance the Church spring regional, 2012. The link to the full audio is below. Acts 2:41–47 gives us five "tests" of gospel-centrality. If we are preaching the Spirit-anointed gospel, these five things will be the result in our churches, just as they were in the very first one.

3. Gospel-centered churches are characterized by fervent, faith-filled prayer (Acts 2:42).

The gospel produces a faith in the church that makes bold requests of Jesus. You see that referred to here in Acts 2, and fleshed out later in Acts 4:24-31. They expected great things from God, and then attempted great things for God. The early Church was born from prayer. After Jesus ascended to heaven, Acts 1:14 reports that the disciples “were devoting themselves to prayer.”  This went on for 10 days before the arrival of the Spirit on Pentecost. These believers prayed for 10 days, Peter preached for 10 minutes, and 3,000 people were saved. Today we’re more likely to pray for 10 minutes, preach for 10 days, and see three people saved. Acts shows us a profound connection between corporate prayer and our community getting a sense of the glory of God. When we pray, our eyes are opened to the glory of God. When our eyes are opened to His glory, we preach with boldness, passion and power (Acts 4:24-31). In Acts 7:55-56, we see Stephen lift his eyes to heaven in prayer, catch a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, and in awe begin to proclaim it to those around him. When this happens on a citywide scale, what you get is a spiritual awakening. Tim Keller gives a glimpse of what this looks like: In New York, in 1857, a man named Jeremiah Lanphier was hired to witness to a local neighborhood. He was frustrated by utter ineffectiveness, and so in desperation he turned to prayer. One day he invited people to pray with him—six people showed up. The following week, 20 people came. The next week, 40.
Acts shows us a profound connection between corporate prayer and our community getting a sense of the glory of God.
  Two months later, hundreds were gathering to pray. Soon the entire downtown area was filled with men and women praying. Evangelistic meetings sprang up all over the city, and in nine months, 50,000 people came to Christ at a time when the population of New York City was 800,000. This was known as the great prayer revival of Manhattan. I really want to see that happen in Raleigh-Durham. If you scaled the proportions, that would be like 100,000 people coming to Christ in a nine-month period! Here is the link to the full talk.  

More in this Series