Reaching up through fellowship; reaching out through community
‘Sometimes people think church is like a baseball bat. For most of the time they play nice little games with their friends. Then once a year they go out into the High Street and hit someone over the head with it.’ - Milton Jones
The above quote by the comedian Milton Jones is of course not what church should be like, but sometimes it can seem that way. Acts 2:42-47 tells us a bit about how we should reach up to God together in fellowship whilst also reaching out through community, without keeping it as our own little club and without bashing people over the head!
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ (v42)
The early Church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship together. They were devoted to meeting together, breaking bread in remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus had made for them. They were devoted to praying together. They were devoted to fellowship with each other. The founder of the Methodist church John Wesley wrote, “the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion.” Wesley is saying that throughout the New Testament it tells us the importance of being part of God’s body of people, the Church. At no point does it say that sometimes you’re better off going it alone. It can be tough getting on with people of all different ages and backgrounds but we have to do our best to get on and love each other. Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.’ (v44-45)
Recognising fellow believers as brothers and sisters in the family of God, they were united and shared everything they had. Not only that, they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need, just as Jesus had taught. William Booth promoted the idea of soup, soap and salvation, reasoning that if you could fulfil a physical need for someone, they would be more willing to listen to your message. The Church should be at the centre of the community, meeting the people’s needs. If we meet their needs surely they will be more willing to listen to our message.
‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ (v46-47)
A healthy Christian community which reaches up through fellowship and out through community attracts people to Christ. A healthy, loving Church will grow in numbers. This is what happened in the early Church as recorded in Acts and it can happen today.
How are you reaching up through fellowship?
• You could join or start a small group or Bible study.
• Ask someone to be your prayer partner and meet up to pray.
• Organise a social event.
• Simply make an extra effort to talk to someone after the service who you’ve not spoken to before.
How are you reaching out through community?
• You could get involved in the corps outreach programme.
• Chat to members of your local community during the open air.
• Help by giving out food parcels.
• Get involved with or start a corps/community sports team.
• Find out what goes on during the week at your corps and get stuck in!
Thanks to David Perkins for sharing his thoughts on fellowship and community
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