They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts... (Acts 2:42, 46)
In your experience, which of the following is true?
A) Yes, the Scripture above is how I would describe my church life – we are devoted to Biblical teaching, prayer, fellowship, and eating together in each other’s homes.
B) No, the Scripture above is not how I would describe my church life, although our pastor does teach on Sunday mornings, and usually someone will pray, but we don’t eat together in each others homes or fellowship together for very long after the service.
C) Somewhere in the middle of “A” and “B.” Our pastor teaches, the prayer team prays, and we enjoy fellowship occasionally. However, as a group, we are not that devoted to the apostle’s teaching, prayer, and fellowship. It’s something that we do on Sunday mornings but we are not devoted to it throughout the week. As for eating together in each other’s homes, a few of us do that but most of us do not because we don’t know each other that well.
So what do you think? How does your church experience stack up against Acts 2:42? I think most of us would say that it depends on the definition of “regular.” Once every few months? Sure. Once a week? Maybe. Everyday? Now that’s a challenge. We do the essentials of Acts 2:42 but we’re really not that devoted to them, or we’re not really that devoted to doing them together. We don’t share our lives together in the way that Christians did in Acts. We’re not that devoted to learning from the Word together, praying for one another, fellowshipping together, or eating together. There are just too many things competing for our time and attention. And that begs the question, “What are we devoted to?”
Many churches are devoted to getting done at the appointed time. Whatever else happens they have to be done in time for the Sunday brunch or the football game or whatever. Others are devoted to a certain order of service or liturgy; anyone who would suggest changes to that is really taking their chances. Some of us are devoted to dressing up in fancy clothes on Sunday mornings while others are devoted to decking out the sanctuary since it is “God’s house.”
What is your church devoted to? What are your brothers and sisters in Christ devoted to? What are you devoted to? What do we spend the most time and money doing? If we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that many if not most Christians are devoted to watching television, going out to eat, and seeking entertainment by going to movies and sporting events. Some of us aren’t such couch potatoes and we go hiking or participate in sports or take our kids to their clubs or sporting events. In the end, though, there are very few of us that are actually devoted to Biblical teaching, prayer, and fellowship on a daily basis. Sharing our lives with other Christians just isn’t that important to us or to those that lead our churches.
We have abandoned midweek gatherings, adult Sunday school classes, potlucks, and other events that encouraged people to get to know one another and share their lives together. We don’t talk much about the “one-anothers” – love one another, care for one another, bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, pray for one another, exhort one another, encourage one another, teach one another, fellowship with one another, etc. – simply because we usually don’t even take the time to know one another, let alone share a meal together or pray for one another or study the Word together.
"sharing our meals and our lives with other Jesus-followers is where the power is. That is where lives are changed – when people get together to study the Word, pray, fellowship, and eat together"
Let’s face it, the sad truth is that if we were to become devoted to gathering with other Christians several times a week to eat together, study the Word and do the “one-anothers,” it would cut into our TV time, sports, or other things to which we are already devoted.
And yet, sharing our meals and our lives with other Jesus-followers is where the power is. That is where lives are changed – when people get together to study the Word, pray, fellowship, and eat together. For as they share their lives, reading the Word and praying for one another, God is there in the midst. When people get together and invite Him to come, He shows up! When people get together and pray, He answers! When they read the Word, it comes alive to them!
So then, as we endeavor to discover how to do Biblical church, let’s encourage one another to take the time to invite people over and share a meal. And let’s be sure to invite God to the table as well. Be real with one another – share your heart, your testimonies, your sorrows and your struggles. Pray for one another and bear one another’s burdens. Read the Word together and encourage one another with your favorite Scriptures.
That’s where the power is at, my friend. That’s Biblical church.
Let’s Pray Together: Lord, help me to be more devoted to Your teaching, to prayer, and to fellowship. Lead me to the right people that I can really connect with and feel comfortable with enough to invite them into my home and share a meal with them. Forgive me for not doing this more in the past, and make it easy for me to share my life with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to be honest with one another and to share our hearts and encourage one another. Lead me as I pray for these people that I would like to get to know better….(continue to pray for the people that God puts on your heart…)
Related Resources: What Is Simple Church -- Excellent video that explains simple church and the importance of relational ministry and making room for every person's gift. The House Church -- Simple Church Gatherings -- Check out this video that explains how simple church gatherings facilitate doing the one-anothers -- caring for one another, praying for one another, bearing one another's burdens, eating together, sharing life together.
What Others Are Saying: “I have found that so many years of running church shows on Sunday mornings has imprinted on our minds an understanding of church that is not necessarily Biblical. We find it nearly impossible to even think about church without a Sunday morning service event, but that is not the Biblical norm. When we read of church life, we read into the scriptural text this idea. Try reading your New Testament with new lenses. Try to imagine the New Testament church without a once-a-week service. In fact, there is much evidence that believers got together with their church families daily, not once a week -- and the gathering had more to do with a meal together than with sanctimonious liturgy. How did we ever get to the place where church was nothing more than a one-and-a-half-hour service on a single day of the week at a specific location? I assure you, in Jesus’ eyes, the Church is more than that!” (from Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens by Neil Cole)