Acts 2:42 – 47
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Those first disciples, along with the 3000 who were baptized on that day of Pentecost, made up the first church. Luke gives us a picture of what that first church looked like –
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, and to fellowship with one another, to breaking bread together, and praying. And awe came upon everyone. We see here the primary functions of “being church”. Bishop Schnase published a book a few years back called “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Passionate Worship – these in the early church spent much time together in the temple, and were filled with awe; Intentional Discipleship – they “devoted themselves” to the teaching of the apostles; Radical Hospitality – they met in fellowship, broke bread together, and day by day added to their number; and Extravagant Generosity – they would sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Because of their glad and generous hearts, they were loved and had the goodwill of all the people. In that time and that place, God’s Kingdom had come.
We continue to pray, “Thy Kingdom come”; how do we live into our place in the Kingdom? We practice Passionate Worship – this is not a particular style of worship, but putting our hearts into our worship, remembering that it is about lifting up our hearts to God, not about what we “get out of it”. We join in Intentional Discipleship – this means learning and growing; you who read this post every day are participating, but much more beneficial, if you are able, is to join in a small group where you can speak and share with one another. We do that on Tuesday mornings, Sunday mornings, and also now, along with worship, at Sunday night’s Coffee House Worship. Come join us! Or join us when you return to town! We practice Salty Service, service in the community, showing love to others. (Acts hadn’t gotten there yet, but it will.) We invite people with Radical Hospitality – this includes everything from the appearance of our facilities (who wants to come to a church that appears unloved?) to the person to whom you say, “Hey, I attend this great church; would you like to come along?” to the reception that person gets when he/she does come, especially the second or third time they come. And, our generosity must be extravagant! We cannot fund this kind of active church without extravagant generosity from our members! (This week, we paid for ads for Vacation Bible School and for the Godspell presentation – they are hospitality, inviting people in, but they are not cheap!)
We cannot do these things on our own. We need the power of the Spirit! But, if we can engage the Spirit and do these things, we can BE the Church, just as the first church was. We can be a part of God’s Kingdom!