There is an old saying that goes, Success Breeds Success. And this is true. But the opposite is also true. Failure Follows Failure. In other words, if we do the same thing we have failed in the same way, yet expect it to be successful, we are fools. This also goes for how we do church today. The book of Acts shows us what church should be like and yet we fail to heed its advice. Why is that? And what can we learn about church from the early church?
How did the early church “do” church, as we call it today? What was their worship service like? The following are some things they incorporated into their time of corporate worship. When you read these, ask yourself this, What are we doing that they didn’t do? And what have we added to our worship service that they did not? Your answer may surprise you.
• There was a time of singing.
• There was a reading of His Word.
• There was an exposition of His Word.
• There was a time of ministry to each other.
• There was a time of sharing for others in need.
• There was a time to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
• There was a time of prayer.
• There was a time of praise and testimony.
• There was a time of humility and confession.
• There was a time of verbal commitment to Him.
• And there was a time of fellowship and the sharing of a common meal.
Does this look like your Sunday morning time together?
What Can We Learn About Church From Them?
There are also two other aspects of their worship time that are glaringly missing today. The first is their reliance on the Holy Spirit. We see this from the first chapter of Acts and continuing through the entire book. And the second is the fact they recognized that the Holy Spirit gave each of them gifts, and He expected them to use them to minister to others. This was not a spectator sport. Everyone had something to contribute.
A simple look into their time together will give us great insights into the early church. For example, consider Acts 13:1-3, and the calling of Paul and Barnabas to missionary work.
Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered (leitourgéō) to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
Note the key elements in this passage, ministry to the Lord (worship), prayer, fasting, the Holy Spirit speaking among them, being in agreement, missionary work, the laying on of hands, and their trust in God for sending their own out into the unknown. Ah, this sounds like real church, doesn’t it?
If you want to find out more about What We Can Learn About Church From the Early Church, keep listening.