July 17, 2019 –
At first, the New Testament church was unknown and unnoticed in the world of the Roman Empire. But, because of the commitment and zeal of the budding Church, it would soon change.
The distinguishing marks of the early Church are:
- Devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. The foundational content for the believer’s spiritual growth and maturity was the Scripture, the personal experience of the teachers with Jesus, The early teachers, not even Jesus were professional scholars or ordained teachers. The Bible says, “Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How does He know the Scriptures since He hasn’t been trained?” (John 7:15, HCSB.)
- Experiencing fellowship. “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex.” (46a)
- They were devoted to the breaking of bread. “and broke bread from house to house.” (46b)
- The early Church was devoted to prayer. Prayer produces results. The early Church spent time “praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day, the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47, HCSB)
These four actions caused them to grow. “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47 NLT)
But a deviation occurred between the New Testament Church and today’s Church. We lost our ax head. The modern Church does something different from the normal or usual way the New Testament Church did.
The early Church gathered to worship. People in the modern Church attend Church and believe they have worshipped. The Dictionary defines “attend, “as to go to an event, place, etc. Over 200 people attended Sunday school last week.
There’s a big difference between “gathering to worship,” and “attending church.” In the former, the group took part. In the later action, individuals are a part of the audience.
The most important reason for gathering to worship is group worship is more than the sum of the individuals who gather. A group gathered to worship is better than you would expect from the individual members because the way they combine adds synergy. For anyone who has played team sports, it echoes the T.E.A.M. acronym—together, everyone achieves more.
The current crisis in the Church is we have many attendees, but only a small group of worshipers. Attending Church puts you in the audience. Worshipping places you among the participants.