A little over a year ago, I was placed in a college Bible fellowship class. Bible fellowship is what we call our Sunday school program. The class was called Ignite, and consisted of about 8 college students who met together for their class every Sunday morning at 10:00 am. We did a study in the class called, “Contagious Community: living beyond yourself.” This Bible study is an excellent study about our relationship with the people around us. I have now been moved into the junior/seniors Bible fellowship class, and we are beginning this study again. This book taught me the importance of community, and the purpose of the church! Honestly, I have been in church my entire life, and this book was used to teach me more about how the church should function with one another more than me living among the church all of these years. I feel that now I have a better understanding of the church and who we are supposed to be. I want to share a few thoughts on the importance of Community like the early church had:
- The early church met each other’s needs– If you look at the early church in Acts 2:45, the Word says that “they had all things common, and that they sold their possessions and parted them one to another to whomever had need.” Think of a possession that is valuable to you. It may be a computer, or a television, an Ipod, etc. As the people who were a part of the early church saw a need someone else had, they would take a possession that they had and sell it in order to provide the means to meet that other person’s need. Wow, what a display of generosity? This is how they functioned. If you look over your church, there are tons of needs that are obvious and some that are known, and how many people have the means to meet those needs, but are so wrapped up in our stuff, our values, our things, and our possessions? I am not saying, go out right now, and sell what you have, but you can find a need, and try your best to allow God to use you to meet that need. We need to model the early church in meeting the needs of our people, and the students in our student ministry!
- The early church shared their lives together– This is very tough to do. We may live in the most relational society ever, but there is still a strong element of privacy that we all enjoy and desire for our lives. We are often scared to share the thoughts that are really on our heart, we are frightened to share our beliefs, our burdens, and our needs with one another. This is not what God intended for the church. I feel that God intended for the church to be a community of people who can come together and let their guard down. They can come in confidence with one another knowing that they still will be accepted no matter what the burden is that they share. We must get back to how the early church operated and share life with one another.
- The early church had a deep desire for the Word of God– This is ultimately the greatest need of the church today. The Gospel is what changes lives. The early church continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine. This is that they devoted themselves to the teaching that they received. The Word was their primary focus of getting together. If we are going to create a community of people in our churches like the early church had, we must have the same focus and goal, the Word of God. Lights, music, video, etc are all good and needed, but they cannot take the focus off of our study of the Word of God.
The church has become so good at playing church, but not being the church to one another! Let’s look at the early church and how they functioned, and model our ministry after their’s! We should be creating this model to our students in student ministry each week. This is why we have designed small groups so that they can discover the importance of the Christian community in which God intended for it to operate.