What does it mean to be the church? Some people might think immediately of a building, the property on which the building sits or just the sanctuary. Not a bad answer and one you would get from the dictionary, but based on the Bible, the church isn’t our property or building. We can get a clue of what church is and is meant to be by looking at Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
Let’s break this down a bit. First in verse 42 we see that the people (the church) was devoted to 1) teaching and 2) fellowship 3)breaking of bread and 4) prayers.
First comes the teaching. We gather together on a weekly basis first to learn about the faith, to hear the word proclaimed and expounded upon. And this teaching is just not about information: this teaching should be for transformation. We should be people who are being transformed (look at Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.) We come together to learn so that we are not conformed to this world, but transformed into something much better. We come together to learn so that our minds might be renewed. Is this why you come to church?
Second, the church was devoted to fellowship. John Wesley would call it “Christian Conferencing.” This can take on many different faces. Potluck dinners are fellowship. Movie night is fellowship. Even workdays can be fellowship. Any time we gather together and it is not specifically for worship can be considered fellowship time. So often we just come to church on Sunday mornings thinking that’s all we need to do and we miss out the richness of relationship we can have with God and one another in deep meaningful fellowship. What have you done this week to deepen your relationships with God and one another? For every hour you spend in worship and learning, another hour should be spent in fellowship and service.
Third on the list is the breaking of bread. This can take a couple of forms as well. It most definitely means communion in church. But it also means potluck dinners and dining with one another. I’m making it a goal this year to break bread with everyone in the church (well, at least those who want to have dinner with me!) I’m doing this by inviting people to dinner at the parsonage, having a couple of parties at the parsonage and going out to eat in groups. I want to break bread with YOU. By doing so, we will get to know each other better and build relationship with one another. When is the last time you had some other member of the church that isn’t your blood relation over for dinner?
Fourth is prayer. Prayer is the one thing that can be done anytime and anywhere. It’s done during worship every Sunday. It’s done before Sunday School Classes. It’s done in your car on the way to work. It’s done by saints and sinners. Where do you pray? With whom did you last pray?
As we go forward together in ministry, I want us to be intentional in our being church. I pray God will strengthen us individually and together as we go about being HIS church.