Action verbs please, and skip the sales pitch!
***DISCLAIMER***Okay, I'll go ahead and tell you that you might find the beginning of this a little boring. I don't think it's boring, but I can be nerdy so I'm not always a good judge.
So in my continuing personal study on what the church is supposed to look like, I thought it only made sense to go back to the source and look at the first description of the church in Acts 2:42-47.
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship,to the breaking of bread
and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being
done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any
had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes,
they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all
the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
This is the beginning of the church as we know it today. It was raw and brand new. I thought I'd break it down a little by pulling out the actions to see what they actually did. Are you bored yet? I'm using verbs and basically diagramming sentences you know. You're still reading? Well, here it goes!
-to the apostle's teaching
-to the fellowship
-to the breaking of bread in their homes
*Had all things in common
*Distributing the proceeds to who were in need
*Attending temple together
*Breaking bread in their homes
*Received their food with glad and generous hearts
*Having favor with all people
Once I broke everything down and just ran the list of verbs through my head, one word just screamed out at me: COMMUNITY! They were living their lives together, helping each other, encouraging, and just spending time together. In fact, it looks like they spent a lot of time together! Twice it says they'd "break bread in their homes." They had meals together and often. As a Christian in the South, I can definitely get behind THAT! Interestingly enough, only one time does the description refer to studying teaching or doctrine. This is no way means that teaching is not important; after all, it does come first in the list. I think it does say that going to church one hour a week to get your God-fix before living your life like every other American (max out that 401-K, go to that play group, send your kids off to school, daycare, and babysitters so you can have ME time all the time, spend that extra $20 on a movie, upgrade to the new car that you can't afford when you know 10 people that are juggling bills so no checks bounce, telling everyone that you're "fine" when you're anything BUT fine) doesn't fit what Scripture says the church should look like.
I also don't see a marketing scheme. No advertisements, no street vendor selling bread and throwing a random tract in the bag when the person isn't looking. They were personal and honest, not fake and giving a sales pitch. They weren't trying to attract everyone to their cause even though I can think of some signs they could have used. How about
"Come to Apostles' Teaching Study and get FREE FOOD!!!" or
"Come to our Yardsale and receive some of the proceeds if you're in need!"
Nope, no gimmicks. They just lived their lives together, praised God, prayed, interacted with the people around them, and guess what! The people were attracted to them and the church found favor with all people. Doesn't that sound so much easier and natural than all the planning committees, focus groups, and studies to find out why people don't want to visit a church? The people of God came together to learn, pray, eat, and support each other. THEN they went out, and God worked.
Obviously these are just a few verses and not the whole picture, but it's a good starting place. Just studying these few verses over the past week or so has challenged my thinking. I hope I haven't bored you to death either. It's been pretty exciting for me personally. I promise my next blog post will be completely fun and full of updates and pictures of the kids. =)