The first century church devoted themselves to four things, according to Acts 2:42. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” We’ve come a long way from the simple four-fold way to have church to what we do today.
I enjoy church. I enjoy worship. I enjoy sermons. I enjoy welcoming, friendly churches, but sometimes I think we make it just a little too complicated. Good teaching, relationships that achieve fellowship, the breaking of bread—eating together, and praying together.
Last night I was invited to a meeting, which was the last meeting of a membership class for a church. It was the end of a three- or four-week gathering for people who were interested in being more involved in the church. There was really good teaching over the weeks and some great meals together and lots of fellowship. But this particular meeting ended with a prayer team coming in and praying over each one of the new people at the church. I was asked to be one of those praying. And while we were praying it suddenly dawned on me; this is Acts 2:42.
Picture this—we were in this really nice house and there were people telling stories and eating dessert and having fun and laughing and telling jokes and at the same time there was a group in one area of the house that was in serious prayer over a person. The group I was praying with all felt the Lord asking us to stand and raise our hands. It was all so normal. I mean all of this noise, all of this food, and people talking, and people praying, and people saying strong things to each other from God’s Word all wrapped up in one living room. I thought, “This is what the Church is supposed to be!”
It was so normal to have the mix of serious conversation and laughter and fun. What was amazing was that it was the pastors of the church who were the ones telling jokes and just being hospitable. And it was the lay people doing the praying. It was an incredible atmosphere of God’s people getting together just to enjoy each other. I loved it! It made me think: have we moved so far away from simple Christian community that we’ve made performance-based Christianity normal and relational-based Christianity abnormal? All I know is what I saw last night was the church and what the church ought to be—at least in part.