How to be a 1st century church

There have been some questions brought to me recently about what we are doing as a church.  I will take this opportunity in this chat to try to give a basic overview.
 ancientFuture[1]
First, we are trying to get everyone involved in ministry.  When we read the New Testament we see a church that was united and bonded together because of the name of Jesus.  Acts 2:42-47 shows us what the church was like when it was at it’s best: meeting in the temple for evangelism, worship, teaching and prayers; and meeting in homes for edification, food, prayer, fellowship, and mutual pastoral care.  And when the people didn’t know how to do ministry, the apostles, pastors and teachers equipped the saints to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). [What follows is a basic description of a “cell-church” also called the “two-winged” church]
So what does this mean for Grace Church?
For Home Communities: When a man is in the hospital, he will receive pastoral care from people in his home community.  When a baby is born, people in a home community will rally together to make meals for the family and drop off old clothes from when they had infants.  When a child of a family in a home community is sick, the other members of the group will offer to watch the extra kids so mom can have a break.  When a couple is struggling in their marriage, they know they can go to their home community leader and ask for some help and even counseling or discipleship.  When a new believer from MOPs joins a group, they can know that other women in the group would love to help her know the scriptures better.  When a MOPs mom has a husband who needs a friend, she can rest assured there are men in this church who want to make friends.  When a couple wants to get involved in ministry, they can trust that if they ask their home community leader or co-leader for some discipleship, that the leader or co-leader and spouse will try to make themselves available for some one-on-one discipleship, nurture, and care.  There are men meeting with other men for discipleship and to go through some basic or more in-depth studies.  There are women meeting with other women to go through similar studies.  And the more this can be made personalized (in conjunction with the guidance of our pastors, elders, HC leaders, and HC female leaders) the more people can be ministered to.  And if someone in a home community doesn’t see the above happening, they know that they can be a part of the solution in their home community to help the group become what it is intended to be.
I have personally seen and heard all the above multiple times.  And I praise God for it.
And I have heard some say that they are not a part of a home community and so they are not seeing the above at Grace Church.  My encouragement to people not having been a part of a group is for you to inquire (with pastors, elders, HC leaders, or HC female leaders) about how to get involved.
For Sunday Worship: We are continuing our Sunday celebration, worship, preaching, teaching, and prayer time every Sunday at 10:00am.  We read in the bible about large group gatherings with preaching, teaching, corporate worship and communion (see also Acts 5:42 and Hebres 10:24-25).  The word “preacher” means an “assembler” – someone who gathers an assembly of people to speak God’s truths to help build up that assembly of people.  The word “assembly” means “church” or a gathering of people for corporate worship.
I sometimes hear people say, “I don’t need Sunday corporate worship, all I need is to be in a home community or bible study.”  I also sometimes hear people say, “I don’t need to be a part of a home community, I attend church on Sunday.”
For the person only attending a church service, you will miss out on the community aspect of church that is so vital to your personal growth (to minister and be ministered to in a small group of people in which you can really meet each other’s needs = “fellowship”).

For the person only attending a home community, you are missing out on corporate worship and the work of the Spirit in community through a steady diet of biblical truth.

I have heard from people who don’t know how to study the word and who therefore misunderstand or misuse the word of God because they have not been lead through some basics of how to study and interpret the word.  There are many in this church who know how to study the word, I praise God for them, and we need you, especially in home communities and one-on-one discipleship.  You are like Bereans who help hold people accountable to truth (Acts 17:11).  And you, Bereans, are the kind that should be helping by leading home communities or doing investigative bible studies with unbelievers or new bible studies with individual disciples.  And, may I add, it will be most productive if we are partnering together on this strategically.  This is how the church is to work when we are all striving to do our part as a devoted to one another community (Acts 2:42).  And I see much of this happening, especially in AWANA, Youth Group, MOPs, GriefShare, the women’s Sunday study, in HCs.  Awesome. Awesome.  I say again, AWESOME.
What I see happening in this culture is people withdrawing from Sundays because they felt like their church (insert church name here x_______) didn’t meet their needs or wasn’t authentic.  I have even heard people say, “We don’t need the institution of the church to do church, we can just do it on our own.”  But how often do people who feel this way drift completely? And wasn’t “church” Jesus’ idea anyway?

 

A challenge to the younger generation who wants to do church by themselves – Christianity is more than a personal relationship, it is a discipleship education, it is about fellowship with other believers, and it is about you using your gifts, talents, and spiritual or practical abilities to minister to others.

A challenge to the older generation who doesn’t necessarily want to join a home community – we need you, your wisdom, your maturity, your perspective, and I think you need the younger generation as well.  They need you, you need them, we need each other.

I am really excited about where we are headed and how we are setting the course to get there and I hope you will join us as we continue on our way.
GODSPEED