The Glue That Holds Us Together

glueMuch has been written lately about the stagnation of the church in America.  I don’t really see the evidence of that opinion in the many congregations that are healthy and growing, but I’m aware that there are bodies of believers out there who have felt the pain of broken ties within their church family.  We should first start out by understanding that there will be roadblocks to any gathering of human beings, especially if we are gathering for religious purposes.  We all have our own quirks and strongly held beliefs and opinions, and at times those differences cause a rift in our relationships with one another.  There are many churches though who still seem to grow and today’s post will focus on why.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.   And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.   And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

(Acts 2:42-47)

This picture of the 1st century church is such an insightful view into why they experienced so much growth.  Even in the midst of an oppressive environment such as the one the Pharisees and Roman Empire created, we see that the early Christians were glad to gather together in the name of Jesus.  Several things they did are immediately apparent:

  • They were devoted to learn from the apostles.
  • They were dedicated to pray for one another and their mission.
  • They were strengthened by witnessing miraculous sings from the apostles.
  • They communed with each other around the Lord’s Supper.
  • They shared their possessions so that all needs were met.
  • They were happy while praising God.

What seems to tie all of these activities together was their insistence on fellowship.  This was not just a gathering of Christians on the first day of the week to worship for a few hours.  There did not seem to be a schedule or order of worship that dictated how they would spend their time.  Instead, the early Christian church placed importance on fellowship and being together.  They made it a point to not just talk like the church but act like the church.

I think it’s perfectly clear why the Lord was adding to their number daily.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a powerful movement (The Way) when it was so evident in the lives of the people?  We can look at any healthy church today and find a group who places fellowship as one of its top concerns.  Fellowship is what keeps a family strong and the leaders of a congregation should create ample opportunities for their flock to experience it.  When a new Christian is added to the church by God, we should be there to welcome them with open arms, ready to help them make the lifelong transition to being a servant of Christ.  If we allow new believers to just be another number added to the membership roll and if there are no genuine friendships made with that person, they will never feel like they belong and just fall back into the world.  The souls of the saved should be far more important to us than that!

The job of fellowship doesn’t just fall to the elders though.  It is the responsibility of every member of Christ’s church to be active in what the congregation is trying to do.  Can we attend every event and participate in every ministry?  Of course not and that’s a recipe for disaster anyway.  But we can definitely make more time for our spiritual family.

As an example, my congregation holds a Fall Festival/ Pig Roast every year and every year it’s a time that many people look forward to.  It’s a great time to just be  outdoors in God’s beautiful creation, enjoying one another’s company, and eating delicious food.  Sounds like a day not to be missed right?  Well, this last year’s festival was one of our lowest turnouts ever.  Why?  Because people are so used to packing their schedules full that they have no time to do church-related activities outside of worship.  Kids have soccer practice and wives have ladies days out shopping and dads sure don’t want to miss the big college football game.

The example I see in Acts 2 was that self was set aside for the good of the church body.  Every day was a day for the Lord, not just Sunday.  People knew about the needs of others because they actually knew them personally from all the time they spent together.  Fellowship is the glue that holds us together and our busyness is beginning to chip away at that bond.

Let’s not let the world or Satan convince us to just look out for ourselves.  Let’s not give in to the lie that we must have a full schedule to be happy and content.  And let’s not just save time for God and his church for a particular day of the week.  Let’s make everything we do center around our love for God and others and I’m convinced that the Lord will add to our number daily those who are being saved.

-Joe

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10 thoughts on “The Glue That Holds Us Together

  1. Light Ministry Blog

    Sadly, Joe, our church is in need of growth…a rebirth. There are many who are seniors and they have either gone into home care or gone on to be with the Lord. The younger ones don’t have job opportunities in our small city. But, we do have many who could benefit from the example set by the church in Acts 2. I’m going to repost this one if I may…

    Thanks again, Joe…

    Steve

    1. Joe Butler

      No problem. I have noticed the lack of growth in our own congregation as well. The family we have there currently is very strong in the faith for the most part but our numbers have not increased for many years even though the town we are located in has grown drastically. The community church down from the road from us has kept up with the growth in the community and even though I disagree with a good portion of their doctrine, they do an excellent job of getting out in the community and making people feel welcome. Now granted, they are using entertainment to bring a lot of people in, but there’s something about a church that is welcoming and that is active in the community that encourages people to attend worship.

      1. Light Ministry Blog

        I know what you mean about churches which use an “entertainment” value to draw in visitors. But the churches which do that have failed for the most part to draw a bigger attendance, and have problems in turning visitors into members. They just come for the music, which is not the right reason for worship services. If they are not taught what we go to church for, how can we expect them to stay?

        That church down the road from you may have people coming in, but would they stay if the music stopped? Even with a welcoming attitude, the chances are slim in my opinion. I just don’t know the answers beyond inviting people to more bible studies at the church, putting all we have into our worship and prayer life, and of course being a friendly, and helpful group of people…

      2. Joe Butler

        I agree completely. We’re a “fast food” society and if a church takes away the entertainment or particular programs people like, they’ll move on to something else to fill their time. I truly believe that until the church actually looks like and lives like the church described in the bible, we will have a hard time affecting the world for Christ. When people see Christians really acting out their faith in dramatic ways, maybe we’ll have a bigger impact. All I’m going to do is place my trust in God that if I plant the seed he will make it grow.

      3. Light Ministry Blog

        Absolutely true, Joe. I posted a rather long post on some Christian stats concerning study habits, attending church, etc. It is sad to say the least. We need to live more like the bible church and hope in the Lord for ourselves and others…

  2. Fellowship and, hand in hand with that, discipleship. Converts need to be led and taught and shepherded in their walk with God. The pastor can’t handle all that by himself. If nobody but the pastor and elders in a church has the maturity to disciple a new convert, it doesn’t say much for the pastor and elders.

    1. Joe Butler

      Wow. You hit on something that I’ve been thinking about recently. I’ve noticed that the majority of the preaching in the church today is mostly practical information on how to improve our personal walk with God. Not that that is bad, but where is the instruction from leaders and preachers about how to make disciples. It may be the reason why the church in America is having less impact on society because we don’t necessarily prepare people to count the cost as a disciple and get out there in defense of the truth. As I mentioned in the post, most of us today fill our lives to capacity that we don’t have a lot of time to fit God in there. It should be the other way around. Everything a Christian does should begin with God at the center of our decisions.

      Thank you for reading today’s post and have a blessed day.

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