There are moments in human history that change everything. These extraordinary events mark the beginning of a new era, a new future, and even a new people. God chose to create such a moment 2,000 years ago when He launched the church. After Jesus’ resurrection, He made this promise to His disciples:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
The fulfillment of that promise began weeks later. While Jesus’ disciples were praying together, God’s Holy Spirit came to them and filled each person with spiritual power. Inspired by this power, Peter proclaimed the message of the gospel to the people of Jerusalem. More than 3,000 people responded by choosing to follow Christ.
This was a major event in the life of the early church. And how did this new community of believers relate to one another? Check it out:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
What do you find most interesting about these verses?
Identify the different ways the early church members engaged one another. Which of these excites you most? Why?
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
It’s common in today’s culture to associate the concept of “church” with a physical structure. When we think about church or about “going to church,” we often see images of brick buildings, steeples, sanctuaries, parking lots, and so on.
It’s also common for people to think of “church” as something that Christians do. We often make a connection between the church and the practices that are common in church buildings—sermons, worship songs, Sunday School, and more. Each of these associations is understandable, and each does point to the truth. Ultimately, the church involves much more.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “church”?
How would you describe your past experiences with church?
In reality, the church isn’t a building or a collection of physical structures. Instead, the church is a collection of people. It’s a community. In a similar way, the church isn’t what we do, but who we are as followers of Jesus.
Here’s a definition: the church is the community of people who follow Jesus Christ as Lord.
How do you respond to the above definition of church?
This was an excerpt from Disciples Path: The Journey, Volume 1 Session 5.