Summary: You don’t find this kind of closeness and support in every church today -- but in the early church, everyone was serious about doing life together, no matter what. How can we develop that in our church? *HANDOUT INCLUDED*
*NOTE: I am indebted to Rick Warren for the outline containing the "Fortify Your Faith" , etc. in this sermon. Please see "The Purpose Driven Church" (Zondervan, 1995) for more info.
Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
42 ¶ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
WOW. . .what a group of people!
What made this church so powerful? Let’s look a little closer:
This church was powerful because they had discovered the secret to being a church that functions the way God intended. I want to share that secret with you. This church discovered that it could help it’s members do 5 things:
1. Fortify their faith. (Discipleship)
“They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine...”
2. Find their talents. (Ministry)
“[They] sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”
3. Focus on God. (Worship)
“Continuing daily with one accord in the temple. . . praising God. . .”
4. Face life’s problems. (Fellowship)
“And they continued steadfastly in fellowship. . . Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. . . and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.”
5. Fulfill their mission. (Evangelism)
“...having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Face Life’s Problems
We call this purpose “fellowship” – it means one thing: Doing life together, no matter what it brings.
The word is koinonia. It means “shared.” It means that there’s nothing you go through but someone’s there right beside you.
It’s about having good times together, and having bad times together.
The idea of fellowship is best expressed in the “one anothers” of the Bible. . .
WHAT IS FELLOWSHIP?
Tim died suddenly while he was out of town with his wife. . . 37 years old, wife and 4 kids. Dozens of people from their church make the long trip just to be with her. THAT’S FELLOWSHIP! (Shared hurt.)
“Therefore, comfort one another...” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Randy had a huge fight with his wife. He called a man from the church, and they sat down and talked it out. It ended by praying together, asking God for strength to apologize and to do the right thing in the future. THAT’S FELLOWSHIP!
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
Dan struggled with homosexuality for a long time. . .now he’s trying to be a Christian. What’s he supposed to do with that? He knows it’s not right, but how can he deal with it? He confesses it to another man from church. Rather than being horrified and lecturing Dan, the man helps him pray about it, and holds him accountable, meeting with him every week to help him make progress. THAT’S FELLOWSHIP! (Shared struggle.)
“Confess your faults to one another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Jane was lonely. . . being single again wasn’t easy. She sat by the phone, and silently, a tear rolled down her cheek. Suddenly, she was interrupted by the phone. Nicole, from church was on the phone, and was just calling to ask if Jane would go out and get a bite to eat with her. Jane smiled, for the first time all week! THAT’S FELLOWSHIP! (Shared time.)
Chris was trying to get back on his feet. . . Barbara took him to work.
Serve one another. . .
JoAnn called and asked for prayer as her husband went in for emergency surgery. Virgil and Reeda dropped what they were doing and went to the hospital to comfort her.
Love one another. . .
Steve confessed the shoplifting he’d done to Bob, his friend from church. . . and Bob stood with him as he confessed it to a manager. When it was over, Steve and Bob embraced and rejoiced with the reality of a clear conscience.
All of these examples are real people I’m acquainted with. . . several are from right here in this church. Some of the names I’ve changed, but these are: