Why the Early Church Failed Miserably 1

Success and Failure

Looking at magazine covers, newspaper advertisements, TV shows, and various websites, one message stands out: you need to succeed. Succeed in business, succeed with women/men, succeed in sports, succeed in whatever you attempt. The world values success and scorns failure.

These websites, magazines, and networks will help you learn how to be successful. They will sell you the strategies, tactics, and programs to achieve whatever goal you desire to set. As long as you have the money, they have the method. Who would choose to fail when success is so much more popular?


The Early Church Failed Dismally

It’s pretty clear that the early Christians were complete and utter failures in the eyes of the world. Why?

  • They hadn’t written a purpose statement.
  • They failed to engage in long-range planning.
  • They didn’t set specific, realistic goals.
  • They never commenced a building program.
  • They didn’t invest in commercial enterprise.
  • They neglected to advertise through the local media.

How could they expect to succeed? All they did was completely identify with a known criminal who had been executed by the authorities for subversion. They were utter failures.

The result? Ananias and Sapphira died suddenly. The apostles were arrested. Stephen was stoned. Others were imprisoned. They were losing people left and right. Utter failure.

The people were scattered throughout Judea, Samaria, and beyond. Those who remained in Jerusalem were subjected to extreme persecution–economic, social, and physical. The Jewish leaders and Roman authorities continued to work against the church. Again, an utter failure.


Funny thing, history.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The Roman Empire is no more. Jewish influence has long since weakened. Successful enterprises have come and gone. But one thing has grown through the centuries—God’s kingdom.

His kingdom is still growing, and it is successful. It will not fail because God will ensure that His purposes succeed. And His purposes on earth are all wrapped up in His kingdom’s triumph.

The world may still see God’s kingdom, Christianity, and the church as a failed experiment. They may think that it doesn’t matter and that success has passed us by. They will persecute us for what they believe is falsehood. And they will ridicule us for what they label as failure.


But in God’s eyes . . .

Whether they admit it or not, everyone knows that the end is coming. It may be soon, or it may be centuries away, but it will come. And when that happens, “every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 HCSB).

And then we will all know the true meaning of success.


In your opinion, what is a good indicator of success?


Photo by Chris Potter

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