Paul Mac: You've recently drawn on the narrative of the disciples and the early church to share some of the fundamentals about the church. I wonder, and I know it's a broad question, but would you make some observations about how you see the 21st century church doing in terms of staying grounded in those fundamentals. Are there things that you feel are signs that are hopeful signs? On the other hand are there grounds for some concerns?
Stuart Briscoe: I think the historic and the traditional and the biblical basis of the church's ministry is clearly spelled out in Acts chapter two. It is predicated on a praying people recognizing that they have an opportunity to proclaim the gospel that has been committed to them. Peter is the spokesperson. He jumps up and he makes a profound statement, finishing with the startling words, 'This Jesus whom you crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ." It said when the people heard this, they were pricked in their hearts and they said, "What must we do?" Peter told them immediately. What's clear about that, is that the preaching of Peter impacted the people first of all intellectually. They grasped the fact that they had crucified Messiah, but it also made an impact affectively, or emotionally. They were pricked in their hearts. More than that, it affected them volitionally as well. They said, "What must we do?" Peter told them quite straightforward, "Repentance, baptism, receive the Holy Spirit, save yourself from this corrupt society." On the basis of that, there was a great ingathering and 3,000 people formed the nucleus of the church, added to the 120 who already existed. Now the disciples had not only got something dropped in their lap called the church that they know nothing about, but now they've got 3,120 people to cope with. It's very important that we recognize what they did. What they did, they gathered the people together and they did three things as soon as they got them together. They taught them discipleship, they taught them fellowship, and they taught them worship. Three critical issues. Such was the quality of the worship and the fellowship and the discipleship, that the gathering began to produce a whole new Called Out community. The church was born. They were in danger of settling down in that situation. The devil made a terrible blunder, and he poured persecution on them. The gathered community was scattered, but wherever they went, we're told, they preached the Lord Jesus and the Hand of the Lord was with them. What we see, is after the preaching of the Word, bathed in prayer, and the response of the people, they gathered them together and molded together a community of the Called. Then the gathered people were scattered, and as they were gathered for worship, fellowship and discipleship, they were scattered in mission. That became a great centrifugal force and they began to spill out. The effectiveness of the gathering determined the impetus of the scattering, and the effectiveness of the scattering were directly related to the growth of the gathering. That's basically my understanding of how church work is supposed to go. The question was how is the modern church doing. I would say in some ways there are wonderful examples of this pattern being emulated, and the Spirit of God continuing to work. In other areas in the western church, I believe there has been a switch, and we've turned it around. The thinking now is that we have to change the church to attract people in. My belief of that, is we've changed the church to attract in the unchurched, and as a result, the worship and the fellowship and the discipleship are not of the same standard as they were. Not only that, the mission is not as effective either, for now instead of the whole community being propelled out in mission, the idea is to bring a relatively few people inside. Where that has happened, I believe the church is not as effective as it could be and it should be.