Multiplication Center

megachurches in the 1500’s

January 15, 2008

John Calvin’s theology and missionary zeal has made a big impact in church history. Even during his time, some of the churches he planted reach thousands of people at a time:

Scholar peter Wilcox has combed the Genevan archives and dusted off some of Calvin’s five hundred-year old correspondence. Much to his surprise, Wilcox discovered a treasure trove of material indicating that the last ten years of Calvin’s life in Geneva (1555-1564) were preoccupied with missions’ Among the dusty tomes were letters written by the Genevan missionaries themselves revealing just how successful they had been. One French church in Bergerac boasted to Calvin:

“There is, by the grace of God, such a movement in our district, that the devil is already for the most part driven out, so that we are able to provide ministers for ourselves. From day to day, we are growing, and God has caused His Word to bear such fruit that at sermons on Sundays, there are about four- to five-thousand people.”

Another letter from Montpelier rejoiced, “Our church, thanks to the Lord, has so grown and so continues to grow every day that we are obliged to preach three sermons on Sundays to a total of five- to six-thousand people.”

And it gets better. A pastor in Toulouse wrote to the Genevan Consistory: “Our church has grown to the astonishing number of about eight- to nine-thousand souls.”

Calvin didn’t just plant small fledgling churches; he planted mega-churches that in turn planted more churches.

Excerpted from Calvin the Evangelist by Frank A. James III. [ht: The Shepherd’s Scrapbook]

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