The Fellowship of the Believers 42 And a they devoted themselves to the apostles’ b teaching and the c fellowship, to d the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe 1 came upon every soul, and e many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and f had all things in common. 45 And f they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, g attending the temple h together and i breaking bread in their homes, they received their food j with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and k having favor with all the people. And the Lord l added to their number m day by day those who n were being saved.
42 ῏Ησαν δὲ προσκαρτεροῦντες τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ, τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου καὶ ταῖς προσευχαῖς. 43 ἐγίνετο δὲ πάσῃ ψυχῇ φόβος, πολλά τε τέρατα καὶ σημεῖα διὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐγίνετο. 44 πάντες δὲ οἱ πιστεύοντες ἦσαν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ εἶχον ἅπαντα κοινὰ 45 καὶ τὰ κτήματα καὶ τὰς ὑπάρξεις ἐπίπρασκον καὶ διεμέριζον αὐτὰ πᾶσιν καθότι ἄν τις χρείαν εἶχεν• 46 καθʼ ἡμέραν τε προσκαρτεροῦντες ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, κλῶντές τε κατʼ οἶκον ἄρτον, μετελάμβανον τροφῆς ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει καὶ ἀφελότητι καρδίας 47 αἰνοῦντες τὸν θεὸν καὶ ἔχοντες χάριν πρὸς ὅλον τὸν λαόν. ὁ δὲ κύριος προσετίθει τοὺς σῳζομένους καθʼ ἡμέραν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό.
What is a simple church? Introduction Why - What? - How? What is a gospel centred church? Where we explicitly want all of our lives to be shaped by the reality of the gospel. What is a disciple-making church? Where we order our lives around the priorities of mission and maturity, because of the gospel. Discipleship happens at heart level. What is a simple church? Where we are devoted to community with God and his people. A simple church is one where we are devoted to community with God and one another Acts 2.42 unpacked. Teaching; fellowship/community; 'the' breaking of bread and 'the' prayers - ie times of gathered formal prayer. T hey were devoted to just a few things (you can only devote to a few things, by definition). v44 a mindset of community v46 breaking bread in their homes - meals together. Not necessarily the Lord's supper (elsewhere - 1 Corinthians - it happens when all together. So the difference between v42 and v46 may be like our difference between 'supper' together, and 'sharing the Supper'. Not anti-programs, just pro-people. We want the right structures in order to c reating space for the reality of relationships and community; conversations and conflict. Load bearing walls vs furniture we can re-arrange. Sundays; CGs; and 'training' or 'equipping' - ie Dig Deeper. The problem is not structures; the problem is the wrong structures, too few, or too many [structure/process analogy; hospital or family] What gets in the way of simple church? The desire to measure and show growth. Complicated leads to simplistic. Simple handles complex. Accommodation vs commoditisation. People are people, not '40s and 50s', etc. Even though we want the space for 'specialist things' in a larger set up, they can't be the primary definition for community. Plus, you never know how God uses the crossed 'strata' to shape us. Community naturally handles the nuance rather than the stereotypes. Awkwardness; it is a chaordic reality (ie order in chaos) to be embraced, rather than structured against. Do we really dare believe that the NT believers didn't experience awkwardness?! Plain and simple, Christian individualistic consumerism. Individuality vs individualism. Families as a kind of modern, Christian, individualism. We avoid the heart level. Community exposes it. Counterfeits: intellectual, individualistic versions eg online. Disappointment and frustration. But remember, the mission begins with someone with a name (eg Philippi). Don't despise the day of small things. This applies to evangelism and community; look at what you can do, not at what others are or aren't doing. A self-absorbed mindset. cf Philippians. Don't grumble, instead: love. Phil 2.4 'of more importance than yourselves'. Every complaint is ultimately to God. ' Bear with' assumes we know each other well enough to annoy each other! Like the logic of 'forgive' - can only apply to people who've hurt you. Not 'getting' the glory of the church - 'fullness' in Ephesians. The church is the future. It is the fulfillment of God's plans, in miniature, and with a hidden and pathetic glory. It is not simply 'community' which we're after (e.g., live on a vegan compound), it's to be the church - participating together in the life of Jesus, before the Father, by the bond of the Spirit. Ultimately, what gets in the way is a poor grasp of what it means to be in Christ. It a ll flows out of how we really view other Christians, and thus how you view yourself as a Christian. cf Col 3 . or John 13.35 or Psalm 16.3. Union with Christ is the heart of it all -Immediately it's trinitarian, since Jesus reveals the Father to us and takes us to the Father, by the bond of the Spirit. -Immediately it's a new creation people, since we share together in the life of Jesus. -Immediately it's ethical, since we are no longer dead but alive; living the future life already now in the body. -Since we're participants together, we're no longer 'vendor' (some kind of ministry leader) and 'consumer', but ministers together of the gospel, in the gospel. Family mindset above all, over all, underneath all, binding it all together. Brotherly love. Loyalty. How are we doing? Are we devoted to fellowship with God and his people? Teaching, prayer, time together, Lord's supper. Spare chairs Sunday? Even beans on toast? cf How to understand 'gifts' (in this case, of hospitality) - things we're all called to do, and as we do them some will clearly have an aptitude and ease. Remember when Jesus said, 'she did what she could'. Are you? Are you thanking God for what you see in others, doing what they can? Praise God for what is, not grumble for what isn't? When someone sins, how do you respond? CG meals? Using time for pursuing relationships? Neighbours, friends, colleagues, etc? Last time in another's home? Last time had someone in your home? Wrap up Always come back to union with Jesus to help us be devoted to God and one another.