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Practicing generosity and evangelism show the world that Christ unifies and stregthens us. Effective evangelism requires that we live out faithful lives in our church, school, and community.

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Overview

Week 2
Text:
Topic: Unity, Generosity, Evangelism

Review

Big Idea of the Message: Practicing generosity and evangelism show the world that Christ unifies and strengthens us.
Application Point: Effective evangelism requires that we live out faithful lives in our church, school, and community.
United church
We talked about how we are to be united as a church. This meaning no matter our age or stage of life spiritually, we can step up and serve where it is needed.
Sermon Ideas and Talking Points:
For us, as young people, we are the next generation. We can sit back and wait for someone to ask us to serve or we can do as Christ and find a place to serve.
Are you too young?
Choosing who to follow
The other big thing we looked at and learned was from the church in Corinth. They had this issue where they became divided because they picked and chose who they were going to follow.
Some followed Peter, some Paul, some Christ. We are not to do this as believers.
In all that we do, we follow Christ as the center.

Acts

This brings us to the book of Acts where the church began. When the church starts to loose sight of the mission, going back to Acts where it all began really is the best thing to do.
Acts gives us an account of the early church’s spread.
Slide
This is reflected in its name: it tells us the “acts of the apostles.”
In other words, it gives us “the first page of the history of the Church”
Slide
Acts 4:32-
And in verse 32, we get one short statement that perfectly captures what will truly change the image of the church today: “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Instead of the division over leadership and the different cliques that we found in the church at Corinth, this is a picture of unity. Everyone didn’t agree with one another all the time (they were still human, still had different opinions, and sometimes made mistakes), and they didn’t all act or look the same. They didn’t find unity by all being exactly the same. Instead, this passage shows us that they found unity in generosity, in their powerful testimony of God’s work, and in cooperation to meet one another’s needs.
Acts 4:32–35 ESV
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
And in verse 32, we get one short statement that perfectly captures what will truly change the image of the church today:
“All the believers were one in heart and mind.”
Instead of the division over leadership and the different cliques that we found in the church at Corinth, this is a picture of unity.
Everyone didn’t agree with one another all the time
(they were still human, still had different opinions, and sometimes made mistakes),
and they didn’t all act or look the same.
They didn’t find unity by all being exactly the same.
Slide
Instead, this passage shows us that they found unity in generosity, in their powerful testimony of God’s work, and in cooperation to meet one another’s needs.
2. One of the ways the church practiced unity was this:
“No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” (v. 32).
This doesn’t just mean that they worked together; it means that they loved each other deeply and sacrificed for one another.
“The picture is one of unqualified sharing, of not claiming owner’s rights, of saying, ‘what’s mine is yours’”.
Slide
Sometimes our division stems from idolizing our leaders, but other times it stems from holding “our” money, gifts, or resources as our own.
(J. B. Polhill, Acts [Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1992], 151). Sometimes our division stems from idolizing our leaders, but other times it stems from holding “our” money, gifts, or resources as our own. Instead of thinking of any of those things as our own possessions, we should view them as gifts from God that he is just letting us use for his glory. That forces us to think about how to use our resources for the benefit of others, not just ourselves.
Instead of thinking of any of those things as our own possessions, we should view them as gifts from God that he is just letting us use for his glory.
That forces us to think about how to use our resources for the benefit of others, not just ourselves.
3. Author Elizabeth Drury tells a beautiful story about how she and her teenage kids learned about hospitality and generosity by witnessing the way the poorest in her church cared for the poor outside of their church.
She explained that “church members
(most of whom live in dire poverty themselves)
had assembled at a rented community center at 6:00am to pick up homeless men and women from hypothermia shelters around the county.”
They cooked donated food and served it to 180 people.
They ate together and celebrated a worship service.
In the afternoon, the volunteers drove guests back to the places they were staying, whether at shelters or on the street.
Then, “nearly staggering in exhaustion, they cheerfully tackled what looked to me like Dish Armageddon.”
Drury explains that this experience left her family with one question: “Am I that generous?”
(Elizabeth Drury, “Border Crossing: Lessons in Generosity from the Believing Poor,” The Exchange [blog], Christianity Today, November 19, 2015, https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/november/border-crossing-growing-in-generosity-with-believing-poor.html).
4. Our passage doesn’t just show us what unity looks like—generosity and humility—it also shows us where those characteristics come from.
Verse 33 explains that when God’s grace is “powerfully at work” in people, they respond to others with generosity and humility.
That’s the kind of legacy and reputation that the early church had, a reputation that would cause them to grow from a ragtag group of Jewish followers of Jesus to a worldwide movement.
That’s also the kind of reputation that a church with an “image problem” needs to reclaim.
Instead of allowing division to show the world that we are the hypocrites they might think we are, allowing God’s grace to work in us should produce great humility and generosity that function as a powerful witness to the rest of the world.
Slide
5. Sometimes the hardest thing about showing grace is showing it to people who have hurt us.
The early church wasn’t united because no one ever hurt anyone else, but because they responded with grace to each other.
There are so many ways that people in the church can hurt us, even unintentionally—
rude comments, gossip, judgment, hypocrisy, or exclusion.
Sometimes we find it easy to fit in at school or in other activities, but church feels like a hard place to fit in.
We may stick close to the people that we know well out of our fear of being embarrassed or excluded—and then end up excluding other people ourselves.
Even if we think we don’t need to share possessions the way that they did, we can definitely hoard up our time and attention instead of sharing it generously with each other.
We’re all insecure about different things and that can cause us to gossip or speak badly about other people to make ourselves feel better.
The real “glue” that kept the early church together wasn’t that they were perfect
(they clearly struggled with some of these same things!)
but that they allowed God’s grace to work powerfully in them, extending grace to and sharing generously with one another.
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