The Future of the Church

Text: 2 Timothy 2:2

This phrase is usually used to refer to children growing up in the church. But even if these children do grow up to be Christians, they will only make up part of the future of the church. This lesson will consider the future of the church and what we can do in the present to help the future church.

Understanding the Church’s Future

  • The Lord’s church (universal church) will never be destroyed (Matthew 16:18; Daniel 2:44) – even if every living Christian dies and there are no local churches, the Lord’s church remains
  • How? … the seed remains (Luke 8:11; 1 Peter 1:25) – the word of God is what brings people into the church (1 Peter 1:23; John 3:3; Acts 2:38,41,47)
  • Local churches are self-edifying bodies (Ephesians 4:16) – but they are also in a constant state of transition (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • Every member will someday be a former member – they will either pass away (2 Timothy 4:6), fall away (2 Timothy 4:10), or move away (Acts 18:1-2; 1 Corinthians 16:19); but this does not mean that every church will be in a state of decline
  • The future of the church is not completely in our control – man has free will (Joshua 24:15), so we cannot force people to convert or remain faithful; but we must do what we can (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Groups That Will Make Up the Future of the Church

  • Children – qualification of elders (and the goal of all Christian parents) is to have believing children (Titus 1:6)
  • Current members – sometimes overlooked; we must work as long as we’re able (Philippians 1:21-22)
  • Brethren from other churches – could be due to a move (Acts 18:1-2; 1 Corinthians 16:19) or problems at previous church (3 John 10)
  • New converts – God adds them to THE church (Acts 2:47); then they join a local church (Acts 9:26)
  • Restored brethren – one can fall away, but return and be restored (James 5:19-20)

How We Get These Groups into the Church’s Future

  • Children – parents have the primary responsibility to teach (Ephesians 6:4); churches may supplement that teaching in Bible classes (1 Timothy 3:15)
  • Current members – encouragement so that they do not fall away (Hebrews 3:12-13); edification (Ephesians 4:12,16) so that they grow as they should (Hebrews 5:12; 1 Timothy 3:1,6)
  • Brethren from other churches – be careful with this one; when one church grows at the expense of another church, it should not be done unnecessarily; but we must stand for the truth (2 Timothy 1:13) because sound brethren may be looking for this
  • New converts – we must evangelize collectively (1 Thessalonians 1:8) and individually (1 Peter 3:15); welcome those who could potentially come to Christ (Titus 3:2-3)
  • Restored brethren – do not ignore their sin, but do not write them off completely; admonish them (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15); once they repent and return, forgive them (2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

Conclusion

  • The future of every congregation is uncertain – the only sure thing is change
  • As we move toward the future, let us do what we can today to strengthen the church of tomorrow

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