Acts 4:31-33




Several years ago, I was attending the Course-of-Study School at Emory University

near Atlanta, Georgia.

It was Sunday Morning.



One of my classmates wanted me to attend a worship service with him at Mr.

Paran           Church of God.

He attended that church the previous year.



He thought it was one of the greatest churches he ever attended.

As we approached this “great church” the size of the structure caught my attention.



It was two or three stories high.

We passed through four parking lots completely filled with vehicles.



We finally found a spot in the fifth parking lot.

But it was a great distance from the church.



It looked like we would have a long walk up a steep hill.

But that was not the case.



They had several large shuttle busses circulating through the parking lots.

They were collecting people for a ride up to the sanctuary.



I don’t know how many vehicles were in those parking lots.

I just know it was a great number.



I also know that there was a great number of people inside.

I slipped into a Sunday School class and sat down.



It had about 75 people in it.

After Sunday School I went to the sanctuary.



I joined about 2000 people trying to get in.

And passed about 2000 people trying to get out.



We were told that 19 people made decisions during the first service.

There were ushers everywhere;



Television cameras all around us.

The bulletin indicated a staff of ten ministers plus many others.



Four ministers had doctors degrees.

Four sat on the podium to conduct the service.



The choir was bigger than most churches.

The special music was outstanding.



They used twenty-four plates to take the offering.

They gave the invitation and thirty-one more people responded.




That was a total of fifty in one morning.

I left Mt. Paran Church of God on a spiritual high.



I hardly noticed that it took almost an hour to get out of the parking lot.

Mt. Paran Church of God is a great church.



But the question is “Why?”

What makes a church great?



Is it a great attendance?

Great preachers?



Great programs?

A great structure?



What makes a church great?

I would like to suggest four things.



The 1st thing that makes a church great is our great God.

Jesus was talking about the church when He said, “My Father which gave them to  

me is greater than all” (Jn. 10:29).



God is greater than anyone we can think of.

He established His church.



And even the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

He demonstrated His great wrath with the flood;



His great love with the cross;

His great power with the resurrection of Jesus.



There is absolutely nothing;

No principality;



No power;

Not life;



Not death;

Not anything that is greater than our great God.



If God be for us, we can be a great church.

The 2nd thing that makes a church great is great respect for God.



It takes time, but great respect for God will result in a great church.

Ananias and Sophira sold a piece of property.



They gave part of the money to the church.

But they pretended they gave it all.



That was a great lie.

So they were struck dead.



Great fear came upon all the church;

Great fear in the sense that they were afraid.




But great fear also in the sense that they had great respect for God.

They saw what God can do.



And they respected Him.

If we will respect God enough to repent of our sins, live godly lives, and do His     

work, our future will be great.



But if we don’t respect God enough to do that, we don’t have much of a future.

The 3rd thing that makes a church great is prayer.



The early church was a praying church.

And because it was a praying church it had great power.



Here are 7 guidelines for prayer:




Its the squeaking wheel that gets the grease.

And its the praying church that becomes great.




Believe and receive or doubt and go without.



Believe that our great God can do what we ask.

Three---Praise God.



He is present when His people are praising Him.

He inhabits the praise of His people.



Four---Be thankful.

Thank God for every good thing you receive.



And for all the things you don’t receive.

A mother was in the yard with her young son.



He saw a poisonous snake.

He wanted to pick it up.



His mother wouldn’t let him.

She took him inside.



She gave her son what he needed not what he wanted.

That’s the way God is.



He gives us what we need not what we want.

We should trust Him to do what is best for us.



And be thankful that He handles things His way.

Five---Concentrate on seeking and doing God’s will more than you concentrate on

getting what you want.



Instead of “I want this” and “I want that,”

Pray, “Thy will be done.”



Six---Be willing to offer yourself as a part of the answer.

If we really want a great church, we should be willing to work for it.



God not only answers prayer FOR us,

He also answers prayer THROUGH us.



And the more we put into our church the greater it will become.

A man laid a check on his pastor’s desk.



He said, “I was praying for the success of our missionary program.”

“And realized that I wasn’t doing anything to make it successful.”



“God was blessing me.”

“But I wasn’t doing anything to bless Him.”



“I need to get involved.”

“This check is for our missionaries.”



One of the greatest things we can do is pray for our church.

But we also need to get involved in the work of church.



A small girl was upset because her brother set some traps to catch the birds in her  


She said, “I prayed that the traps wouldn’t work.”



“Then, I prayed that God wouldn’t let the birds get into the traps.”

“Then, I kicked the traps all to pieces.”



Faith without works is dead being alone.

But faith with works can accomplish great things.



Jesus said, if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can tell the mountains to move         

and they will move” (Matt. 217:20).

Personally, I don’t think He was saying we can move the Smokey Mountains or the          




But I do think He was saying that when we have faith we are connected to the         

power of God.

And He can move those mountains.



And I believe He will.

The day will come when He will move the whole world out of its place to make      

room for the new heaven and earth.



Nothing is impossible for our God.

He can build a great church.



Seven---Pray regularly.

Too many of us pray only when we get into trouble or when we have a need.



Its best to have a set time and place for prayer.

I’ve read that some Orthodox Jews pray as much as one hundred times a day.



Some place the words of Psalm 16:8 on the wall of their home and office.

That verse reads, “I have set the Lord before me continually.”



Wouldn’t it be great to have a church that put this in practice?

“No matter where I am,”




“No matter what time it is,”

“No matter what my situation,”



“ I will remember God.”

“I will remember that He is with me.”



“I will remember to give Him first place in everything I do.”

A 4th thing that makes a church great is great lay leaders.



A great church has to have great lay leaders who are willing to :

          1. suggest,

          2. initiate,

And   3. see that the work of the church gets done.



A great church has to have great people who are willing to do more than lend

verbal support;

Great people who care enough to contact the inactive, the disenchanted, the  

unbelievers and others;



Great people who are not satisfied with being routine members of a routine church.

Great people who will get out of their comfort zone;



Who will never quit reaching out;

Who are never satisfied with the size of their church;



Great people who want their church to be great because they want to honor Jesus   


Some of our great lay leaders have planned a great picnic for next Sunday.



We would like to have a great turn out.

We need your prayers.



We need your help.

We have loved ones, friends and neighbors who have not been attending church.



We need people to call or visit them.

If just a few of you will voluntarily try to get the inactive here, this church will         




If all of you leave it up to someone else, this church may falter.

The key to greatness is in your hands.



Call or visit someone who has not been attending.

Do it for Jesus.



Greatness is not in how many parking lots we have;

Not in being on television;



Not in having a doctor for a pastor;

Not a matter of how many offering plates we use;



Not a matter of how large our sanctuary is.

Greatness is a matter of our spirituality.







“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your      

bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable         


“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your       

mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will   of God.”



Before those fifty people walked the isle at Mt. Paran Church of God someone had          

already been praying and visiting.

The big sanctuary, the twenty-four offering plates, etc. are just clues pointing to the

spirituality of the lay people.



Jesus gave you a great commission, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations;   

baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;”

Paul is an example of a great man who did this in a great way.



He told the Ephesians, “I have kept nothing back that was profitable to you,”

“But have showed you, and taught you PUBLICLY and from HOUSE TO    

HOUSE” (Acts 20:20).



Publicly and from house to house.

He kept nothing back.



He had great concern, great faith, great love, a great message;

And he got great results.



Jesus said, “Whosoever shall be great among you let him serve” (Matt. 20:26).

What makes a church great?



1. Our great God.

2. Great respect for God.

3. Prayer.

4. Lay people who want a great church bad enough to work for it.