How is “The Church” doing at being the “Church”?
We asked our church how “The Church” is doing at being the “Church”. In order to do that we had to go back and look at what did “The Church” look like. A doctor named Luke recorded in the book of Acts that the early church was a cultural experience rather than a Sunday morning experience. It was an organic relational movement rather than an institutional attractional ministry. It was a daily, relational, informal, joyful, organic, exponential experience that resulted in a culture that allowed many to experience a relationship with God and each other. What did this culture consist of that was so attractional?
Teaching: Luke records that daily teaching was a consistent part of this culture. The early church only had the Old Testament or the history of God’s interaction with man and the promises of God to man; and the Gospels or the physical manifestation of those promises through Jesus Christ. The daily conversation in this culture was about God, His promises to man, how He fulfilled them through Jesus Christ, and Jesus’ promise to return. This wasn’t Sunday school or Sunday morning conversation but daily conversation.
Fellowship: There was an environment of unity and hanging out together. Although Luke records this mainly took place in the temple courts, today’s equivalent would be Starbucks, Panera, LA Fitness, coffee houses, and any place where people and those in their circle of influence normally gather. The early church was in the habit of spending time together.
Breaking of Bread: There was a daily gathering of people in homes and neighborhoods to share meals together. Today, in some churches, the only time there is a gathering together to share a meal is to raise money, although usually for a good cause. Imagine the cultural shift if instead of just inviting people to our churches we invited them into our homes to eat with us, share meals and hear each other’s stories, and to do life with us.
Prayer: The early church had a daily consistent prayer life. Prayer was not relegated to repeating written words handed to them on a Sunday morning or just bowing their heads while someone prayed from the podium. There was a regular habit of speaking to and listening to God. They expected God to hear them and they lived in expectation of hearing from God individually, corporately, and daily.
Luke went on to record both physical and spiritual results from the culture that the early church created:
Physical – This culture that was created by the church enjoyed the favor of all the people. Everyone, regardless of their political affiliation or financial situation looked positively on this culture. In fact, the only haters were the religious people who felt like Christians were stealing their thunder.
Spiritual – Every day more and more people were coming to experience a relationship with God and seriously engaging in doing life with God and with each other.
So how is your church doing at being the Church? And since, as we all know, we as individuals who have trusted in Jesus Christ are the Church, how are you doing at being the Church?