Acts 2 Church - 4 A Great Church is Devoted to Fellowship (Locky)
A Great church is Devoted to Fellowship Elim Christian Centre - City
To be honest with you today when James asked if I was interested in speaking today…I jumped at the chance.
For two reasons…
Firstly because this is our first Sunday morning with you in 18 months, since we left to take on some new roles at the East Campus.
Secondly, because what James has asked me to share this morning is one of my favourite topics
The concept that a great church is devoted to Fellowship…
In my role as a pastor to the 18-35 age group I get to meet lots of people.
Many of whom are desperate to fit in. To make some friends.
One our very first Sunday at Howick we felt welcome and it was great to get to speak. But fairly soon, after the last person was prayed for…I looked around to find everyone gone!
It was the first time in years that I felt lonely at church.
It reinforced in me a heart to help people connect, because I found out once again what it was like even as a Pastor to not have people who were my friends…
In the Bible the word used to explain this dynamic is something called fellowship.
To be honest with you again. I don’t use this word much in my every day language. But that doesn’t change the meaning for me.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The Greek translation of the word paints a simple picture for us.
Koinōnia - which means Close mutual association.
A bible dictionary explains it this way…
a company of equals or friends
The picture in Acts of the Church was of a people who were so connected, so living out what Jesus taught…that it pervaded their entire lives…and God blessed it!
The early Church was not about discussions whether to go to Church or not, whether to get involved or not, or whether to be part of small groups or not. The found any excuse they could to get together.
There is this concept that when God first creates something…that it is what he would like it to be.
In Genesis as part of God’s grand creation plan we read that he created Adam & Eve, and that he wanted to be with them. He would come and visit them in the cool of the day the Bible says.
There was no barrier between them and God.
But then sin entered creation and a barrier rose between that Jesus fixed for us.
God’s heart remains for us to have direct contact with him.
That is why the early Church is such a powerful example. It shows us when it was new and functioning well. It shows us some keys for us now and what we can work towards.
So what were the main characteristics of that early church?
What can we learn from them?
Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect church.
But what we do is that we seek God, we work towards what could be better.
I am happy with church, but not totally satisfied.
I know God has so much more for us.
3 Keys of what a Devoted Fellowship
1. A place of Identity
I believe we all want to fit in somewhere.
We love to say we are individuals but we do things to try and help ourselves be part of the crowd.
We buy clothes like someone else.
We buy gadgets or toys like someone else.
We even try and mould our bodies to emulate someone else.
On a natural and sometimes warped level we get it.
We understand that we are individuals yes…
But we also recognize life just doesn’t quite make sense on our own.
Romans 12:4-5 (message)
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?
[Doll example, One with a leg missing/Complete Door/Separate Limb]
Here is a truth of the Church…
· We can’t truly function without you!
· You can’t truly function without us!
Whether you like it or not, we need each other.
We were designed to be together and grow together.
Just like Rick Warren says in his book The Purpose Driven Life, “life is meant to be shared”.
Ephesians 2:19 (living)
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
1 Corinthians 12:25 (message)
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
We have seen so many wounded, lonely people grow and become more whole as part of our small groups.
Not because they just attended services…
If they are feeling disconnected, it is because they are.
The solution is simple and not as painful as many people fear.
Romans 1:12 (new century)
I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.
We need to meet with each other. In whatever form our circumstances and culture allows. Whether it be church on Sunday, Connect Groups, Christian Friends…
2. A place of Love
Galatians 6:10 (new century)
When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers.
I don’t think God wants us to be religious and just say all the right words.
Our times together are supposed to be more than “God Bless” phrases, “Christian A-Frame” Hugs and singing Kumbyyah!
Our times together are supposed to be about genuine love for each other.
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t deep down in their heart want that.
It is just some of us today might not feel comfortable because of what has happened in our lives.
I am not going to give 3 easy steps on how to love.
We don’t need to, and we don’t have time.
The Bible simply says it is the giving of your life for someone else.
And this is how powerful our genuine love for each can be…
John 13:35 (new living)
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples
It has the power to even help evanglise our world.
Love is so much more powerful that words.
It is demonstrates itself!
Doesn’t just talk about itself…
3. A place of Power
I love the stories in Acts.
Like when you keep reading past the Acts 2 scripture we have been talking about today and see what the believers did.
Part of the whole point of God pouring out his spirit is so that we can minister to each other fully, and have the biggest impact possible on this earth.
A key to a Devoted Fellowship is the Power of God.
All that cool exciting stuff, where God demonstrates his power beyond our mere words.
Here are a couple of scriptures for you.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Mark 16:18b niv
…they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.
The Power of God is supposed to be part of Fellowship.
Not just to be spooky and weird, but because it has the power to change lives.
If you are a Leader and this is not happening, ask God for it.
If you are attending a group and this is not happening, ask God for it.
God has a dream you and me. A awesome dream for this church.
It is a dream beyond what size or style our buildings can be.
It is not about returning to some old glory days.
It is not about striving to fulfil some old prophecy from 15 years ago.
It is about living this life together as a community of faith.
Making sure it is a place of Identity, Love & Power.
A devoted fellowship
Acts 2:42 (message)
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
I am convinced that if we do this, that we all take a chance and connect more with each other…that the blessing of God will be further poured out in a measure we haven’t even dreamed of yet.
Romans 12:5 (NIV)
so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others
Salvation…based along the lines of what we have been talking.
Where they don’t feel connected yet because they aren’t connected first to Jesus, the one who designed all this in the first place.
Hurt People…courage to move on and be part of the community, not just on the sidelines.