So, blogging is all about being real, being authentic right? Well I’m back to school right now and here’s me being real with my first “Paper” in probably 10 years…
“The book of Acts gives us a well organized history of the proliferation of the first “Christian” church from its inception in Jerusalem to the expansion outward, especially through Paul’s journeys as it stretches to Rome. The church began with many signs and wonders, including: the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of “tongues of fire” above the heads of the disciples, speaking in tongues (many languages), exponential growth, and healings, to name a few. The church also operated in a very communal way, with members eating together, living together, and sharing all their possessions. The early church also dealt with governess, segregation, “law” versus “grace”, heresy, betrayal, and persecution.
One of the typical responses by churches forming today is to look at the church in the book of Acts as normative; even taking snapshots of the church at different points of its development and calling that behavior normative. If we do believe that the book of Acts gives is a guide-map for building a local church, than we really have to look for some general patterns of behavior that we can apply today.
Some of the issues that the early church of Acts dealt with leave us some great patterns that we can bring into the modern church. For example, when the church in Jerusalem began teaching that Gentile Christians must practice the tradition of circumcision, Paul immediately challenged that train of thought. He went directly to James in Jerusalem and argued that this teaching went against teachings of Jesus Christ, and would only lead to an outward religion. We can see this argument throughout the New Testament, and we almost always see that the traditions and outward expressions of religion can lead to pride and legalism. So as we build our churches today we would want to be very careful about traditions and expressions that are imposed on people, leading them away from grace and a relationship based religion.
Another area that the early church showed patterns of normal behavior is in the idea of church planting. As the church grew and expanded, new churches were started in neighboring cities; churches with their own leadership and practices. This was against the model of a central church or synagogue, or holy place of worship. Today we can see that church planting is one of the most successful ways to evangelize. Not only do church plants attract mostly un-churched people, they also create places for people to serve, for ministers to develop, and for new and innovative ideas to be implemented. Church plants are also highly dependent on the faith and tenacity of the members, and require a high level of commitment, just as Paul had as he went and planted churches throughout the Roman Empire.
Those are just a couple examples of some ways we can apply some of the patterns and principles of Acts to today’s churches. I think the most important thing we can to do is to really study what the primary messages are from the stories of the emerging and growing church in Acts. There are many practices that may sound good or look exciting, but have no basis in today’s church culture.”
So there you have it – hopefully I don’t get slammed too hard from my instructors.