They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. ‘’Acts 2:42
The early church had a simple agenda when they gathered: teaching, fellowship, love feasts, and prayer. According to Acts 2:46 they made these a part of their daily lives together. Let me put it another way: the early church was a 168 hour per week community.
“Church” happened at the temple, in the market, in homes. It would appear they took Jesus literally when he said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:20)
Upon reflection, I wondered how this constant connection influenced their attitude while living in the face of opposition. What was it like for believers on the road to know they could look forward to church fellowship whenever they arrived in a town or city where a cluster of believers already existed and gathered?
I then thought of Paul and Silas singing in jail after their beating in Philippi (Acts 17). In that moment, the two of them were the church…and brought their own choir with them! Or consider what happened when the ship bearing Paul to Rome began to sink (Acts 27). The text tells us Paul taught the 276 on board, then broke bread, prayed, and encouraged them. Sounds a lot like Acts 2, doesn’t it? Early Christians “did church” 168 hours per week.
Not every Christian today would look at church that way. Some portion of us look at church as a service on Sunday morning; that perception comes with significant consequences.
You see, if I look at church as 168 hours per week, the hour when we gather corporately on Sunday morning is not the sum total of my spiritual life. So, for example, if I don’t like the music one week, it’s just 15 minutes out of 168 hours. If a sermon does not happen to inspire me on any given Sunday, there are still100 other ways the church will minister to me during the week.
On the other hand, if I perceive church as a one hour per week exercise, then every part of the service is desperately important. Any little change disrupts my spiritual life. The music, every video, the lighting, the order of worship, and the preaching style all become non-negotiables. A song I dislike is no longer a mere six minutes of my “church week”…it is now one tenth of my entire church life! That particular song assumes life or death proportions in my spiritual journey. For someone who sees church as an hour a week, no change or disappointment is minor.
When church is my life 168 hours per week I enjoy opportunities to daily grow, worship, pray and break bread with others. I find rich fellowship everywhere I find another believer. Like the early church brothers and sisters, I view church as a community and not only as a Sunday morning service. Teaching, fellowship, breaking bread with the brethren, and prayer fill my week—not merely an hour of my time.
Based on the evidence of way I spend my time and money, Do I view church as a community in which I live? Why do I say that?