Jesus spoke far more about the Kingdom than he did about the church. He demonstrated the Kingdom, taught about it, lived its principles. Between his resurrection and his ascension, he spent 40 days speaking to his disciples about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3). Then came the Day of Pentecost, when 3,000 became disciples.
What did all these new believers do? They met in the temple and they met from house to house. (Very soon they had to give up the larger meetings because of persecution.) They devoted themselves to four things: the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). Why did they do this? Because this was what they knew from living with Jesus.
Let's look at how this might work out in simple churches today. As we described in the last post, we do not need more good teaching. As Neil Cole likes to say, "We have been educated beyond our obedience!" What we need is more learning and application of what we have learned.
In our experience, the best way to accomplish this is with some form of participatory Bible study. We often use four symbols to facilitate this:
- A question mark–is there something you don't understand
- A lightbulb–is there an "aha moment" when you receive some new understanding about the verse
- An arrow–God is speaking to you directly and you need to do something as a result
- An ear–who needs to hear what I have just learned
Obviously this is just a way to facilitate an interactive study, not a method to be followed religiously. But once someone has done it once, they can easily replicate it with friends at work or at school. We frequently use it with unbelievers as a way to facilitate a discovery evangelistic Bible study.
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3 replies on “Four things the early church did when they gathered and four useful symbols”
When I read the first few chapters of Acts, I notice how often they participated in social justice and taking care of the poor. They didn’t build structures or raise money for building funds. They helped the poor, the orphan and the widows.
John, You’re absolutely right! Thankfully within most house churches, the majority of the funds are available for this kind of thing. (Research into this shows the average house church gives around 90% of its money to benevolence and missions.)
That compares to my legacy church where 70-80 percent goes to salaries and building maintenance. Timewise, the percentage is far higher. Frustrating.