“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:46–47, AV)
I will never forget my first real church experience. Well, it was not my first church experience, but it was my first real one. I went to this little start-up church meeting in a school building with my wife and two children. What I saw there was something that touched my heart in a way that I never anticipated. I sat through the adult Sunday school, and then the worship service. They were good, but the thing that spoke to me the most was what I saw after the service. It seemed like no one wanted to leave. Everyone stood around taking to one another. These folks cared about one another in a real genuine way. I sort of stood back and took it all in. It was great to see. The were there not because they had to be, but because they wanted to be. This was a dynamic that had a positive influence on my life, and a significant part in my conversion experience.
After Peter preached the sermon on the Day of Pentecost and about 3000 were saved, we see an interesting dynamic going on between the new believers. They demonstrated what I can only define as genuine biblical community. There was something about that church, which was so different from the norm of society, that everyone took notice. The outward manifestation of God’s grace in these early believers was an awesome testimony of the reality of their conversion. Through it, they gained “favor with all the people,” and the Lord used this testimony to multiply the church.
What was this testimony? The passage indicates that they met together, not because they had to, but because they loved each other and wanted to. The passage indicates that they took care of each other through prayer and sacrifice, not because they had to, but because they loved each other and wanted to. The passage indicates that they sought to learn of the things of God together, not because they had to, but because they loved God and wanted to.
The passage indicates that they met together daily not just in the Temple, but in their homes. In their homes they obviously met in smaller groups. It was in these groups that the majority of ministry was being carried out. What happened was Spirit led. It was the natural result of their conversion under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We could use such an outpouring of the Spirit in the lives of professing Christians today.
While I believe, the church needs its programs, organization and structure, unfortunately, all of these can become a vain crutch for the church. For without genuine biblical community, it is just a lifeless organization. Without genuine biblical community, we could compare it to any social organization of our society. Without genuine biblical community, we cannot expect the dynamic growth experienced by the early church.
What is the solution? Well, it is not to scrap the programs, organization and structure of the church. Perhaps we need to focus on genuine biblical community, and then see how the programs, organization and structure support it. Perhaps our problem is that we have placed our trust in the programs, organization and structure, rather than our Lord who builds the church, for He built the early church as a genuine biblical community and when it functioned as such, the Lord added daily to their number those who were being saved.