Summary: One of a series on the church from the book of Acts.
Do you remember the decisions you made when you left High School. There was the decision that led you to college or to the military. Or perhaps it was a decision that led you a factory job or to trade school. One little decision that probably shaped the rest of your life.
Any architect deals with two overriding realities. What he does with them determines the outcome of his building. It limits what it looks like and determines how it works.
Form & Function
The proper way to build in my humble opinion is with the recognition that function determines the form - or it should. If you don’t delibrately make that decision and start your design instead with form then the building will be limited by it’s design.
In the Middle ages the buildings were huge and cavernous in their attempt to reflect the awesome glory of God. In the 1700’s the pews were separated with walls so the people couldn’t see each other. The Preacher was elevated in his pulpit and looked down on his congregation.
In the 1800 & 1900’s churches were simpler and more orderly with rows of pews. Look at church buildings in the mid-fifties with their steeples and long narrow halls that made the audience spectators rather than participants.
Today we have moved from long and narrow to wide and participatory. Today, you see more auditoriums built in the round with the emphasis on participation and intimacy.
The forms we choose are very important. Therefore... we must know what we are supposed to do - We must understand the mission of the church.
Therefore... we must know how we are going to do it - that is the method that we will use in the culture we live in.
Therefore... we must build forms that encourage the function - Structure is important!
The early church had two different forms to meet two completely different functional needs.
From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. -- Acts 20:17 (NIV)
When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. -- Acts 20:18 (NIV)
I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. -- Acts 20:19 (NIV)
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. -- Acts 20:20 (NIV)
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. -- Acts 20:21 (NIV)
They met from house to house.
They had meetings where there was rich and close fellowship. There was study of the word of God. They ministered to one another.
They met publicly.
This was usually in the temple or other gathering place. Occassionally it was in other places including a the school of Tyranus where the church rented the facilities.
The idea of meeting from house to house (like in Acts 2:42) helped to create a sense of community. They were with one another - Fellowship.
In the Home Group that I am a part of we had a birthday celebration last week. One of the ladies brought some Dutch apple pie. This is a real family!
Time is spent with God in Prayer - I enjoy conversational prayer. Too many of us are babes in arms when it comes to prayer. We need to become accomplished in the prayers of intercession and petition to God.
There was time spent in ministry. People have problems - all of us do.
Singles. College age and alone for the first time. Single again. Single with kids. single without kids. Widowed and lonely.
Married people struggle too. There are tough relationships. Young married with one car and little kids. There are middleaged married who have teens - some of them who are out of control. Then there are the older married who have the empty nest.
Then there are the sick. Cancer. Arthritus. Epstein Bar syndrome. Overworked and underappreciated. Hungry for selfworth.
There are those who are sick at heart. Those who had a father or mother that never cared about them. Those who were rejected - a husband or a wife that left them. There are those which children who take advantage of them.
God’s people are the solution in every one of these cases. Whether it is moving a family into a new house,
helping another to find a car, fixing a washer or dryer, providing childcare for a young mother, or
offering encouragement to a wife whose husband is TDY/90 days.
It can be as simple as visiting in the hospital - and staying through surgery. Just caring.