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Summary: The first to become followers of Christ give us insight into the essential elements for forming a compelling Christian community.

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Title: The Making of a Compelling Christian Community (The Good Ole Days… Today)

Text: Acts: 2:42-47; 4:32-37

Thesis: The first to become followers of Christ give us insight into the essential elements for forming a compelling Christian community.

Series: The Marks of a Healthy Missional Church

Congregational Vitality: Pursuing Christ and pursuing Christ’s priorities in the world.

• Healthy: Pursuing Christ

• Missional: Pursuing Christ’s priorities in the world.

Introduction

This text could easily be thought of as the way it was in “the good ole days.” When we think and talk like that we get all nostalgic and sentimental about the way it was and if only it were today as it was then… life would be sooooo much better.

There is always much to be learned from the past. Henry Ford rolled out the Model T Ford in 1908. It was a marvel that revolutionized transportation and the American industry. The Model T was mass produced, inexpensive ($815) and workers received high wages. The Model T engine produced an amazing 20 horsepower and a top speed of 45 miles per hour. Today the 2013 Mustang Shelby GT 500 has a 5.8 liter engine that track tests at 200 miles per hour and produces 650 horsepower and runs around $60,000 off the showroom floor.

Now if you were to take me outside and offer me the choice of either a 1908 Ford Model T or a 2013 Shelby GT 500 as my car for everyday use for around town, trips to the mountains, over-the-road to see the kids in St. Paul or Chicago… I am going to have to go with the 2013 Shelby GT 500.

As wonderful as the Model T was and as fun as it is to see them in automobile museums and puttering along in parades… the Model T was a wonderful prototype.

Remember Acts is an historical account of how it was in those early days of the life and ministry of the Church. It happened in the context of “new.” It had never been done before. It also happened in the context of a time and a culture. It is something of an early prototype. It was undeveloped… in fact it has the feel of being developed on the fly.

However, like the earliest automobiles and the latest automobiles share some basics… and the earliest and contemporary Christians share some basics.

The way they did it may not look like we do it, but at the heart of who they were and who we must be, if we are to be a Compelling Community, is heartfelt devotion.

I. They were devoted people.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, including the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer. Acts 2:42

When it says they “devoted themselves” it means they were steadfast or single minded in purpose or desire. They wanted it and they were going after it, so to speak.

In 2008 Sanya Richards-Ross competed in the 400 Meter in Beijing. She started the race strong and built a substantial lead before locking up on the home stretch. She finished third for the Bronze. This year she competed and won the gold medal in the 400 Meter in London with a time of 49.55 seconds. Four years, Sanya Richards-Ross waited. Four years she waited with the hunger pangs of unfinished business and the sense of an uncompleted mission. When they introduced her before the 400 meters in London, she blew a kiss to the camera, went out and got the gold medal she had worked tirelessly for since Beijing.

Just as Sanya Richards-Ross was devoted to her pursuit of Olympic Gold… those early Christians modeled devotion to Christ and the process of becoming Christian. They were intentional and disciplined about the process of becoming devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

The first thing they were devoted to was the teaching of the apostles.

A. Teaching

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, including the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer. Acts 2:42

We sometimes refer to the two “great” things Jesus taught his followers:

The first is the great commandment: On one occasion an expert in religious law asked Jesus “which” of the commandments in the law of Moses was most important and Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:38-39

The second is called the great commission: Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ instructed Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the women who had come to the tomb to anoint his body) to tell his disciples to meet him on a mountain in Galilee. When they arrived Jesus met them and gave them what we call the great commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” Matthew 28:18-20

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