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Early Church History-Now compares the Christian Church of the Bible with modern churches and the home groups encouraged by web-church. There are many surprises.

Early Church History-Now

Acts 2:42-47, I Cor 14:26, Col 3:12-17

What has been your experience with churches? Ask 100 people; get 150 answers. Believe it or not, more than 50 % of the people in the U. S. have never been to a church except for a wedding or funeral. Whether you've been to a church or not, you know people who attend and you've seen various media depictions of church. Was that experience good or bad? Did the church people behave as you expected, better or worse? I did my own random survey of over 100 people in my community who don't attend church. I asked them, "why?" Their top 5 answers indicated they felt churches were: 1. Judgmental. 2. Pushy. 3. Dishonest. 4. Greedy. 5. Full of hypocrites. If you're active in a church, do you feel their opinions are valid, based on your experience? One couple recently contacted me and described their church experience as, "too restricting". Are you satisfied with your church experience, or wondering if the one down the street is more for you? Do you just go on Sundays or are you fully involved in the church activities? Do you come home praising God or wondering why you're going? Do you just go for your kids?

Today we'll learn the essence of what a church is all about, intimate Christian fellowship. We'll take a frank look at modern churches, and compare them with the Biblical ideal of intimate fellowship. For more information on the early church, see these works on the Book Of Acts.  If you're happy with the church you attend, praise God. If you feel it needs a little help, this may be the answer. If you're someone who's been turned off by churches or you can't get to a church, you may find an alternative here at We'll learn together that:

The Biblical ideal of Christian fellowship is available for us to live today.

If you attend a church and read the Bible, how often are you confronted with the difference between the Biblical practices and ours? I was confronted often. Let's review some of the Scriptural descriptions of church life back then. If you haven't read the Bible passages at the top of the page, look them up in the online Bible at the bottom Right corner of the page.  I'm not going to read them to you. Biblical churches:
    A. Were devoted to God's Word, to fellowship, to eating together and to prayer.
    B. Were filled with awe.
    C. Had everything in common.
    D. People voluntarily sold their possessions to help those in need.
    E. Met daily.
    F. Ate together in each other's homes.
    G. Praised God.
    H. Enjoyed and favored each other.

When they met, each person had a hymn to sing, or a teaching, or an insight from God, or a prophecy (tongues and interpretation). The Bible says all of these must be done to strengthen the church. God instructed them to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient; to tolerate each other and forgive any grievances.  This suggests some among them were frustrating and hurtful. Otherwise, why would they need to forgive?  God told them to "put on love", which would hold them together in "perfect unity." They were all members of one body. Because the "Word of Christ" was in them, they taught and corrected each other with His wisdom, they sang songs, hymns, spiritual songs and were grateful to God. When confronted with this ideal, we all must admit our church life falls woefully short.

2. What Is Modern Church? Over the years, I've asked many church members, "What defines church life?"  Their answers were: elders, spiritual education, pastors, staff, ushers, food, bulletin, building, preaching, greeters, choir, prayer, Sunday school, God, youth program, retreats, fellowship, missionaries, vacation bible school, intercessors, seminars, communion, counseling, newsletter, weddings, funerals, baptisms, women's group, men's group, alter call.

Test your knowledge! Circle the 5 things in the list above that the Bible says Christians did together.

Most pastors consider six things essential to building a church. They are: Good Preaching, Quality Worship Music, Nursery, Children's Program, Teen Program, Church Facility. The pastors are probably right to design churches around these things. After all, how many people would attend a church where you couldn't hear the preacher because of all the screaming babies? How many would go where the music leader always sang out of tune, or the preacher was unable to speak clearly. How many would go where children weren't taught to memorize the Lord's Prayer or teens prowled the halls aimlessly until they found another teen to get in trouble with? Honestly, how many would attend a church in a leaky barn, with no heating or AC, no indoor plumbing, no paved parking lot? How much do you think church attendance would drop if these six things weren't there: 10%, 30%, 60 %, 90 %? Would you attend? That's not the point, though. The Bible records at least the first 50 years of church life, so, here's the question (and the point):

How many of these six things, we consider necessary for church life, are actually in the Bible?

None of them!

In fact, for the first 350 years of Christian history, none of these things existed. During that same 350 years, Christianity expanded faster than any time since. Maybe it's because they didn't have a lot of unnecessary baggage to slow 'em down.

Continued at Early Church History-2

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