A lot of people these days believe the church should be trying to do exactly what the early church did in Acts. This is actually where all the small group craze came from. Much of the church growth movement is keyed on this principle as well. So do I think mimicking the Acts Church is how we should do things? Yes and no… You see, the Bible has a lot of information on what God wants the Church to do. We have Acts but we also have Ephesians, Timothy, Titus and more. Let us look at this closer beginning with some points about Acts.
There is no question , the early church gave a good model. Acts 2:47 says, “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Some experts have estimated the church in Jerusalem had over 100,000 members. That is larger than many cities.
There are many important principles to follow for Church government. Here are ten examples:
1) Churches should rely on the Holy Spirit’s power. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Church members should have the Lord Jesus controlling their lives. They must let the Holy Spirit take control. Leaning on the Holy Spirit is mostly what is needed.
2) Churches today must nurture a warm fellowship. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common.” (Acts 2:42-44) With a warm, loving and inviting environment new Christians can be loved and grow in the word.
3) Church members must meet together to study the Bible. “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:46-47) They used the temple courts and they met house to house. Both types of meetings occurred. So we must meet at church and we must break bread together and study in our homes.
4) Churches must expand the vision of God. He is in Control. “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” (Acts 4:24) We already know the Church will survive and Satan is already defeated. Fear thou not because we have all the resources and strength we need. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Christ will build His church!
5) Churches must harness the power of prayer like they did in Acts. From the beginning there has been a spiritual battle going on. Spiritual battles are fought on our knees. Jesus said, “This house will be a house of prayer.” Our Church is to be a house of prayer. In Acts it says, “they prayed” 48 times. Churches need to pray like they prayed in Acts. Churches need God’s power to make us different from the world. (Acts 1:3-4, 14)
6) Churches should be united, generous, loving, and charitable. Our church should be a giving church. The church in Acts was a giving church. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold.” (Acts 4:32-34) We all need to be united and with one mind. Our church should be the place that the needy are cared for. We should learn how to sacrifice for others like the early church did. We should be a powerful testimony to our community. (Acts 2:44-45)
7) Churches must involve everyone in ministry. We find in Acts chapter 6 how this was done. The apostles found men that were specifically shaped and called for ministry. An example is ‘Greek men to minister to Greek widows.’ No one pastor can do everything. God and the Holy Spirit gifts the entire church. The Pastor feeds the flock through preaching and teaching. The rest is up to others. Our churches need to be able to help people discover their Spiritual gifts and then plug them in. The early church sent people out on mission is the community to add to the growth. Don’t allow people to come and just sit on the sidelines. Use the talents and gifts they bring. Not just any people can minister, however, as the position of Deacon is to be filled with men who are currently full of the Holy Spirit. Not one that was filled at one time, but one filled with the Holy Spirit now. Deacons can bless the body and they can bless the Elders by allowing the Elders to devote more time to the Bible and to prayer. Deacons are “hands on” – somewhat a “Buildings and Grounds” people. As they grow they could be appointed to Elder positions. God wants leaders full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, unity, prayer and to stand in agreement. God raises these people up.
8) Churches need to read the Bible and be devoted to the word. It should be heard from the pulpit, it should be read, it should be memorized and it should be meditated on. The only thing that can change lives in our churches today is the Gospel and the Word of God. We need to be devoted to reading the Bible. (Acts 2:14-40)
9) Churches should love and worship with joy. In the early church they practiced Koinonia. What that means is they would fellowship with one another. They were committed to one another and loved one another. Our church members need to protect, care and help one another unlike the world. We also should celebrate Christ together. Church should be enjoyable and we should express our emotion in Church letting go and worshiping with joy. (Acts 2:42, 46-47)
10) Churches should be reaching out to the community for Jesus Christ. The early church reached people for Christ daily. “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:40-41) Evangelism is commanded and we are told to be a witness throughout the world.
Can it work to try and mimic the Acts Church? In the next post I will give you my opinion and expand on what I think we should doing with our church structure.