Summary: We NEED each other to fulfill Christ’s mission. Therefore, our community of faith must be a PRIORITY in our lives.
Marks Of A Missional Church
When Amy and I were first married she worked at Brandon Hospital in Brandon, FL as a Unit Secretary on the Labor/Delivery floor. One of the things she and the other staff observed is what has been called the “lunar effect.” Every month when there was a full moon, the staff would always brace themselves because there would always seem to be an increase in the number of births that would occur on those days. Nurses would come in and say, “It’s a full moon tonight – get ready for an influx of babies.”
Now, I did some research this week and discovered there is really no verifiable evidence to confirm the “lunar effect” theory. Research indicates there's not really any increase of births during the monthly full moon cycle. But I also discovered that healthcare professionals are virtually unanimous in their contention that the Lunar Effect is true. What if it were true. And what if the number of births on a Labor and delivery floor increased by let’s say 25% - that would be a pretty significant increase, wouldn’t you say? What if it increased by 100% - double the number of births on a full moon as opposed to other times of the month. The staffing needs at hospitals around the world would reflect the lunar calendar right.
Imagine this – imagine the birth rate increased not by 25%, or 100%, or even 1000% but imagine the birth rate increased by 2500% on that one night. You’re talking about absolute chaos.
Well this is exactly what happened at Pentecost. There were 120 people gathered in the Upper Room at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came down in power and inaugurated the church of Jesus Christ. But that very day there were 3,000 spiritual babies who were born again. The church went from 120 to 3120 – a 2500% increase. Now the birth of a baby brings joy tremendous joy! (Amber) But the birth of a baby also brings a lot of work. Now I asked Donnie Pell this week if having twins is more than double the work of having one and he said, “Oh yeah!” So Dusty and Ginger Tuders who are due with twins in 6 weeks have a lot to look forward to!
The 12 apostles – the original 11 and Mathias who replaced Judas – now have 3,000 baby Christians to look after. And with those 3,000 babies comes tremendous joy that must have been almost overwhelming as they saw 3,000 souls pass from death to life, from darkness to light, from a stale ritualistic religon to Spirit-infused life in Christ. What joy must have accompanied these new births.
But what work must have accompanied those new births? Remember, these are all immature, infant believers. We’ve all been around immature believers before – we’ve all been immature believers. New spiritual babies require a lot of work and attention; there must have been tremendous counseling and instruction and late night meetings and conflict resolution interventions – on a daily basis for the 12 apostles. So how did they manage this massive influx of new births that were experienced on the day of Pentecost? The passage before us this morning in our ongoing series through the book of Acts will both inform and instruct us to that end – they focused on the basics; they devoted themselves to the fundamental ideals upon which all New Testament churches must focus. So let’s read the passage and discover exactly what it was they focused on.
42And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Before I break down this passage and walk through the four elements we see here, I want to show you how Luke, the inspired author of the book of Acts, structured this passage. Because I think if you see the structure it will help in your understanding. What Luke has done here is in verse 42 we have a summary statement where he identified the marks of a missional church. Then in verses 43-47 he expands on those four ideals; he develops those four ideals for amplifies them for us. That's the structure of this text.