Summary: Most serious Christians want what the church was at Pentecost. It is still available.


Bible Teaching Ministry of


Thomasville, NC


September 12, 2004

37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. A2:37-47 (KJV)

There is a great cartoon that shows an old west scene of Conestoga wagons all circled. The Indian tribe had encircled the camp, but they are a mess – some knocked-out, some staggering around in a daze. The chief, magnificent headdress all askew, having been thrown from his horse, dusts himself off and speaks to a likewise be-dazed and disheveled brave…”One of these days we are going to have to settle this; when we attack the wagon train, do we circle left, or circle right?”

The church must also make that kind of decision when it comes to who we are, what we are, and how we are to do what we do! Not knowing who you are means you don’t know how, or even what you are supposed to do. Without that kind of decision clearly in focus a church can always seem to be in the center of an identity crisis.

An identity crisis comes from focusing on what we do before considering what we are. It’s like the Lutheran pastor who always started each service with "The Lord be with you." The people would respond, "and also with you.” But, one Sunday the PA system wasn’t working so the first thing he said was "There’s something wrong with this microphone." The people responded, "and also with you." [1]

An identity crisis is a loss of vision or purpose. It is like a ball team that loses sight of the fact that their purpose is to win ball games, not just look good in their uniforms. A church that loses sight of its purpose is one which winds up in the endless controversies of side issue after pride issue. Paul told young Pastor Timothy to avoid that trap.

4Don’t let people waste time in endless speculation over myths and spiritual pedigrees. For these things only cause arguments; they don’t help people live a

life of faith in God. 1 Timothy 1:4 (NLT)

Living a life of faith in God is the way Paul described our focus as Christian believers who make up a church. One Pastor whose sermon I read this week made a pretty compelling argument for the minimum requirements for a church to have settled the identity issue. Let me share the list with you:

1) The people must give evidence that they are believers--that they trust Jesus as Savior and Lord. (Acts 2:41)

2) The people must be baptized. Matthew 28:19

3) There must be a regular assembling. Hebrews 10:25

4) Among these meetings there must be gatherings for worship. (Acts 2:47; Romans 15:6,7).

5) Our meetings must include exhortation from the Word of God. (Matthew. 4:4).

6) We must celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24).

7) Finally, all of this must take place with the guidance of duly appointed leaders. (Eph. 4:1, 12).

It seems to me that these seven things are the minimum of what it takes to make a local church. [2]

Now, the pastor who shared that list also clearly made the point that being a “minimum church” is not God’s will for any Kingdom church. Minimums only set the basic parameters of the starting point. If you’re satisfied with minimums, you’re facing the wrong direction.

• QUESTION: What does an airplane and a church have in common?

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