Acts 2.41-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles ‘doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The pattern and practice of the early church lays the groundwork for the right kind of foundation for every church. Understanding and putting into practice the principles of this text are essential for us as a New Testament Church.
Last September, I shared with you the 4-fold vision statement of Koinonia Fellowship. The 4-fold vision statement is this:
- TO KNOW CHRIST- John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
- TO GROW IN CHRIST- 2Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
- TO PROCLAIM CHRIST- Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
- TO BRING GLORY TO GOD- 1Cor 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
This 4-fold vision statement is not original in the least. It is based on the great commission at the end of every gospel and the beginning of the book of Acts. It has been the engine that has driven all that we are about here at Koinonia. Before last September, I do not think that I ever presented this 4-fold statement in a study format as I did then and am doing now.
This 4-fold vision is the foundation that has inspired many saints to evangelize to the lost with the gospel locally and abroad. It has been the foundation that has inspired 4 other men go out and start local congregations. It has been the foundation of our efforts to make better and more disciples of Jesus Christ for the glory of God. You have seen a small portion of some of that fruit today in our praying for our wonderful teens who will be serving at FCWC this year, Lord willing.
Nearly every single week, I receive an email with an invitation to listen to this particular teaching series or buy this set of small group workbooks because it has unlocked the key to church growth and discipleship. Beloved, you cannot franchise Spirit born, Spirit desiring, Spirit filled fellowship or discipleship.
The most recent one that I got last Tuesday came attached with a pop up note that went along with the video presentation that said this: Hi I am ______are there any questions I can answer? Or, could I just tell you how awesome you are?
I was tempted to text the person and tell them, if you only knew how jerky I am thinking today, you would probably rescind the how awesome I am part of the offer!
I am amazed when I look around and see so many clones of well-known “mega” churches. They even hold conferences that pass along these keys to growth and success. I believe that The Lord wants the overseers of each flock to look to Him for wisdom and guidance rather than try to duplicate these Spirit born congregations ‘success story’ by buying that set of books with the hopes of being a miniature imitation of that church themselves.
Not thinking through a strategy as a church for implementing this original church pattern is not an option, because no strategy is a strategy. And any failure to clearly communicate this to you precious people lies squarely upon the shoulders of the person speaking to you today, and I apologize for that. But today, I desire to clear the fog a bit.
When you come to the early church in the book of Acts and the epistles, you do not see a perfect church. Far from it. They had tons of problems. I was telling our Sunday night study group that I would like to put scaffolding around the church building from now until Jesus comes. Why? To remind ourselves and the world around us that every single person who calls this church their home are all under construction until He takes us home. Thanks for the patience!
I suggest to you that what you do see happening in the book of Acts is not the result of a culture survey that indicated that something needed to be done to get people to evangelize or bring them together for fellowship.
What we see in the book of Acts is a Spirit born, Spirit driven, non-manufactured freshness in everything they were doing. Just like a newborn baby instinctively goes for their mothers breast for feeding, these saints craved the things of The Lord that were recorded for us in Acts 2.42-47.
The practices and disciplines that we read about here were The Spirit driven, Spirit inspired foundation for churches throughout the centuries.
We cannot duplicate the Jerusalem church or repeat that original Pentecost, but we can and should seek to prayerfully pattern our churches around these foundational practices.
What we learn Scriptures is that Christianity is a relational faith.
First it is vertical. We begin by having a relationship to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- Ephesians 2.18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
- 2 Peter 3.18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen
- 1 John 1.3,4 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
Secondly, we are immediately brought into relationship with other believers, which are known as the church or called out ones.
- Ephesians 2.19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
- Hebrews 10.24,25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
The word that is most often used to describe this second aspect of relationship is ‘fellowship’. It comes from a Greek word, koinonia that basically means ‘to share, to partner with, to contribute or to have in common’. John Stott points out that fellowship “expresses what we share together,” and “what we share out together, what we give as well as what we receive” [The Spirit, The Church, and The World, pp. 82-83].
Those who continued steadfastly in Acts 2.42-47 were the same individuals that gladly received the word and were saved in verse 41. Thus, they were born again.
It is my opinion that when you have to constantly coax a professing Christian to find delight in the Lord and His Word; and you have to berate him to join in fellowshipping with God’s people; and you have to virtually harass him to worship the Lord; the problem is not poor follow-up. The problem is no new birth.
The phrase continued steadfastly carries the idea of being devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. And they did so steadfastly. What does steadfast mean? He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus set His face steadfastly to go to the cross to die for our sins.
To continue steadfastly means that it was something that Jesus did deliberately, intentionally and willingly.
What if Jesus had done what I so often do? Well, I’d like to go pray with the saints, but I’ve go too much to do; or I’d like to go to that home study or ladies group and fellowship with the saints but if I don’t hit the gym I am going to look like a beached whale.
If Jesus had said, “I think I’m going to Jerusalem,” or “I’d like to go to Jerusalem,” or “I hope to go to Jerusalem,” you and I would fry in hell forever.
Something so distinctive, so radical, so new happened to these people who knew Jesus as Lord that they were constantly giving their attention learning together. They began fellowshipping together. They began breaking bread together. They began praying together. They began worshipping The Lord together.
This word together is repeated many times in the many “one another” passages of the New Testament. We are to love one another…forgive each other…be kind to one another…accept one another…encourage one another…admonish one another…do good to one another…stimulate one another to love and good deeds…bear one another’s burdens.
This brings us back to the importance of what the word Koinonia or fellowship means:
Fellowship– Gr. koinonia; sharing, contribution, participation, partnering, giving.
- Whenever we help one another financially, that’s koinonia.
- Whenever we send one another a meal, or a card that’s koinonia.
- Whenever we are given to hospitality, that’s koinonia.
- Whenever we help one another out, that’s koinonia.
- Whenever we use our gift to minister to one another, that’s Koinonia.
- Koinonia is a verb. It is practical. Koinonia is motivated by the love of Jesus for me that is translated into a love for one another for the glory of God.
Growing together in Christ is simply the meeting of one another’s needs in the Body. It is our partnering together to help each other live out the demands of the Christian life. It is the relationship of rejoicing with one another, weeping with one another, lifting up the fallen, coming to one another’s aid, giving to one another, and sharing with one another out of the abundance of what the Lord is teaching us. It is the crux of Christian communication–one brother sharing with another brother the things of God and vice versa.
- Growing together in Christ includes the entire body of Christ.
- Growing together in Christ includes every local congregation.
- Growing together in Christ includes getting together with other saints in a smaller setting for fellowship, prayer and accountability.
- Growing together in Christ includes inviting people into your life that you can be accountable to and confess your faults to. Accountability partner (in addition) to your spouse. (print out accountability questions)
And I would dare to say to you, beloved, that biblical Koinonia this is far more than “getting acquainted really well with 8 to 12 people” in any growth group setting. If your thinking of growing together in Christ is limited to being a part of a particular group, you are thinking far too small.
I want Koinonia Fellowship to be a body of people who see themselves as investors and farmers in one another’s lives.
Growing together in Christ conveys this important thought: Each and every one of us are responsible before God to exercise my God given spiritual gifts, talents and resources to bless one another and glorify The Father.
Being a Christian in a local church has been like being a investor or a farmer. If you make no investment or deposit in a bank, how much of a withdrawal can you expect? Zippo
If you do not plant any seeds in the ground this spring, how many flowers or vegetables will you have this summer? Zippo.
Growing together in Christ is that 3 fold chord spoken of in Ecclesiastes 4.10 that is both vertical and horizontal. It is saints connected to and receiving from The Lord and in turn, investing and sowing those gifts on one another.
Every church with a building faces the challenge of resisting people’s tendency to view the building as the church. The church is you and me. Thus, it is vital for every saint to have fellow Christians that they can grow together in Christ with regularly outside of the hurried hello, goodbye of Sunday morning.
So as I urge you today to connect with some group or consider starting one, let me urge you to take that one step further and make fellowship and discipleship a way of life. Choose to seek first the kingdom of God and are make it a point to live for the purpose of conforming to Christ and helping others conform to Christ.
Let me say in closing that the ultimate small group is the family. The Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin said that teaching and discipleship begins in the home. John Calvin said “Every family of the pious ought to be a church.”
Current Growth Group Status
Give status of participation in current groups. 170 out of around 500+ adults are connected on a weekly basis to one of our current growth groups.
It is virtually impossible to build deep friendships, accountability, or satisfying relationships through attending church services only. There are many people attending church services who feel lonely, isolated, and marginalized. Joining a small group gives “people the ability to build friendships, be mentored in the faith, understand and discuss the truth of the Word, identify and use their spiritual gifts, and provide care for one another.
How can you get involved?
- Perhaps you would like to host a growth group. For any person who opens their home, you must have the gift of hospitality. That is one of the most vital ingredients for a fruitful growth group.
- Perhaps you would like to open your home to facilitate a growth group or perhaps you would like to lead one, but cannot open your home. We will provide you with a list of questions for discussion. This is a more interactive kind of a group.
- Perhaps some of you would like to teach a home study. This is more of the traditional teaching followed by fellowship group.
- Perhaps you would like to join an already existing growth group. Check out the tables in the fellowship hall for specifics on each group.
- Perhaps your gift is to visit the sick, write cards or make calls to people are hurting or needy. We have a Care Group ministry here, an if you would like to get involved in that type of ministry, there are people who will chat with you downstairs.