Last Thursday, over at the Preacher’s Pen, my friend and brother-in-Christ, Chris Gallagher posted a list of 6 Reason I Do Not Attend Your Congregation. Take a moment to read his thoughts (of course, you should wait until after you finish reading what I have to say <grin>). I found his thoughts extremely timely, especially since I was working on a sermon I titled, “What to Look for in a Church or Congregation.” I do not have a list of 6, but a list of five things to look for in a Home Congregation. These all come from Acts 2:42-27.
“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.”
(Scripture quotation from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
In this account of the birth of the Kingdom of Christ we see a vibrant and growing church. In this narrative we see a church that attracts members and one that any Christian or seeker would want to “join.” There are, as mentioned, five characteristics that we should look for in a congregation we are considering as our home. These are five areas each congregation should evaluate in their own “church” environment. These are five traits each individual Christian should seek to improve in their own lives as they are active in a local congregation. What should we look for in a church?
1. Is this congregation a church that Worships? (Acts 2:42). We should devote our worship to the Biblical teaching, to Fellowship with God and each other (including the Lord’s Supper and giving), to breaking of bread (specifically remembering the sacrifice Christ made for us – cf. Acts 20:7), and to prayer.
2. Is this congregation a Respectful Church? (Acts 2:43). This is not a question about whether the community respects the congregation, that will come later. This is whether or not the congregation respects God and His word. Are they in “awe” of God? This sense of awe will express itself in worship.
3. Is this congregation an Unselfish Church? (Acts 2:44-45). Are they active in helping each other with needs, visiting the sick, caring for the weak? Are they active in helping the needing in the community as a whole (Gal 6:10a)?
4. Is this congregation a Joyful Church? (Acts 2:46-47a). Are they genuinely glad to be together? Is the atmosphere one of dread or of rejoicing? Do they seem truly appreciative of the grace of God in their lives?
5. Is this congregation a Good News Church? (Acts 2:47). Do they actively share the Good News we normally call the Gospel of Christ? Are they active in mission efforts? Are the members telling others about the Grace of God available in Jesus the Christ?
This is what you see in Acts 2:42-47. This is what each church (congregation) should strive to be. What do you see in the church where you attend? What do you see in your own life? Will you take the challenge to be what God would have you to be?