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Lessons From the Early Church: The Key to Community Building

Minkir Dawaki

Minkir Dawaki

July 20, 2022

We live in an age and time where we employ a variety of tactics and schemes to bring people into the church fold. These schemes take on different forms and faces in different church communities and are not necessarily bad. Still, we find ourselves elevating our schemes and tactics above the example we see in scripture. The Book of Acts provides a template for us for proper church growth by having a full-on spiritual experience of the means of Grace in a proper church community. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve examined the key activities that the early church was always involved in that led to the church’s growth. Acts 2:42-47 lists out these practices that marked the early church that were driven by the teaching of the Apostles. These practices include; constant fellowship, prayers, breaking of bread, generosity, and shared meals. This is the key to building our church communities as revealed in the Bible. This article is a summary of all we’ve talked about over the past couple of weeks.

While looking to build our church communities the first thing we should realize is that the growth of our churches is purely the work of the Lord. Verse 47 of Acts 2 tells us, “and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” This shows us that none of our schemes are enough to lead to genuine church growth. What we should be caught doing instead is following the teachings of Jesus as passed down by the Apostles. This is what it means when it says “and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship...”

Acts 2 shows us the practice of these teachings in the early church and how it led to a community that was favoured by all the people. Here’s a summary of the practices.

Constant Listening of the Word and Fellowship

The teachings by the Apostles are obedience to the instruction of the Great Commission as seen in Matthew 28: 19-20.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

These teachings are what birthed the other practices that characterized the early church. Fellowship for the early church was the edification of the body by the teachings of the Holy Scripture the highest form of prophecy.

Prayers

Jesus in Luke 11 taught His disciples how to pray. Also, Luke 18 introduces a parable that Jesus told His disciples as a form of lesson for the need for constant prayer. This practice that Jesus always engaged in and taught His disciples to continue was passed down to the rest of the early church. The book of Acts is littered with examples of how prayer was always the first response of the church when faced with challenges and how it radically transformed their lives. We talked about it extensively here.

Generosity

I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ – Acts 20:35

The above verse shows us the inspiration behind the early church’s practice of giving. This practice of generosity was one of the key factors that led to the growth and favour of the early church. The believers understood the importance of supporting and caring for one another, especially those who were in need. They willingly shared their possessions and resources, recognizing that it is more blessed to give than to receive. This culture of generosity created a sense of unity and selflessness within the early church community, fostering a deep bond among the believers.

Communion and Shared Meals

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” – Luke 22:19

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” – Luke 11: 23-24

The practice of communion and shared meals was another important aspect of the early church’s life together. It reminded them of Jesus’ sacrifice and served as a symbol of unity and fellowship among believers. As they partook in the breaking of bread, they remembered and celebrated the Lord’s Supper. This act of worship deepened their bond with one another and with God. It also reflected their commitment to living in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrificial love.

This study we’ve carried out on the early church should turn our hearts back to the simplicity of Christian fellowship and the teachings of Jesus. Human schemes can lead to a form of physical growth but we should ask ourselves if our strategies are leading us to experiencing Jesus in His fullness by developing deep relationships with one another. As we strive to build church communities, it is crucial to prioritize the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, rather than relying solely on human schemes and tactics. We must recognize that genuine church growth is the work of the Lord, as evidenced in Acts 2:47. The early church serves as an example for us, emphasizing the importance of constant fellowship and listening to the word, engaging in prayer, practicing generosity, and participating in communion and shared meals. These practices fostered unity, selflessness, and a deep connection with Jesus and one another. Let us refocus on these essentials for authentic church growth.

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