Summary: A challenge to the church to Worship, Evangelize, Learn, & Love.
God’s original design for the church is found in the book Acts. If there was ever a church growth plan that worked, it was the one used by the first-century church. Talk about effectiveness. This church exploded. Why? Because the believers knew why they were there and what they were supposed to do.
If we were to do a side by side comparison of the 1st century church and ourselves, I dare say that we would come up way short. As I look at the Acts church and I look at our church, I can’t help but notice that we have a lone way to go. This doesn’t discourage me, it challenges me, and I hope it challenges you. Every time I read this passage I see not only what we are not, but what we will soon be.
Acts 2:42-47 shows us four foundational qualities:
They were a Worshipping Church
They were an Evangelizing Church
They were a Learning Church
They were a Loving Church
Think of it like this, the First church was W.E.L.L. worshipping, evangelizing, learning, and loving. I believe that when God set up the first church, HE DID IT RIGHT! So if we are going to do it right, we need to do it God’s way.
I feel like this is God’s vision for us for this year! I believe with all of my heart that this God’s Word to us this year, that it is time to get W.E.L.L. And everything we do this year will help us toward that goal.
1. God’s Original Design: Become a Worshipping Church
“They continued steadfastly…in the breaking of bread, and in prayers…and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles…They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God.”
The early church was built on prayer and worship. When we read the book of Acts- the record of the early church’s history-we conclude that the believers had miracles happen every single day! They didn’t follow signs & wonders, signs & wonders followed them!
AN expressive, worshipful church results from sincere praise and sincere communion with the Savior. It’s not something you schedule to draw a crowd.
TO become a worshipping church means focus has been shifted. Our natural inclination is to worship other “gods.” But the Bible teaches that we are put on this earth primarily to know and walk with the God who made us and to bring glory to His name.
“Jesus replied, "Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. 24 for God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:21-24 NLT)
Worshipping in “Spirit and in Truth” means worshipping with the mind and heart. True worship requires both. You worship in Truth when you know who you are worshipping & why. We are agreeing with God about who He is, what He can do and has done, and what He is asking of us. Then we respond by telling Him so. This is why Bible study and worship go hand in hand. Worship is going to be more effective when it is based on an accurate understanding of who God is.
Our worship of God must engage the mind, but it must also engage the affections, the heart, our emotions, and our spirit. That does not mean that worship has to necessarily be emotional or involve an outward emotional display to be “in the spirit,” but it does mean the heart must be engaged. We show outward excitement and worship to sports, musicians, and celebrities. It would seem only right that God would deserve more.
A worshipping church is a place where God is exalted in spirit and in truth. So if we are going to get W.E.L.L. We must become a Worshipping Church
2. God’s Original Design: Become an Evangelistic Church
“The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
As we read the accounts of the first church, it becomes clear that literally everything they did culminated in evangelism. Proclaiming Christ was never seen as optional. It was never a job handed out to a special committee. EVANGELISM HAPPENED REGULARLY AS THE EARLY BELIEVERS LIVED THEIR LIVES. As they did, they aroused not only curiosity but also admiration and earned an audience with unbelievers.
In the church today we actually debate Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples of all men. Some go so far as to say that they are not called to be evangelistic, that they were called to Body ministry. HOG WASH!