After describing the frustration I used to feel over Christian community and how it wasn’t happening for me, I got rolling on the real help I found in Acts 2 for growing community in my life. I couldn’t stop. In addition to the five ideas I shared last time, here are five more:
6) Worship together.
“…day by day, attending the temple together…”
Worship lifts our eyes off ourselves and causes us to look together at the God who is above all. There’s that theme again: When we adjust our gaze from our own navels to something higher, we are drawn together in ways we often can’t explain. Also, history demonstrates over and over the power of music to bind communities together.
7) Be thankful.
“…they received their food with glad and generous hearts…”
Last time I noted how vital generosity was to the community of believers in the early church. It’s interesting to me that being a glad recipient and a generous giver seem to be two halves of the same circle here. Our thankfulness to God can fuel our open-handedness with each other.
8) Expect miracles.
“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”
OK, this one may not fit in some believers’ theology. I know cessationists have a strong argument that the apostles performing the miracles in Acts 2 are the last ones on earth through whom God worked those particular types of miracles. I’m not writing this to agree or disagree with that theological position — only to encourage us in our little communities to ask and believe God together for things that are harder than what we can accomplish on our own.
9) Be winsome.
“…having favor with all the people…”
This one really stops me — I think because it’s so rare to hear today’s church described as “having favor with all the people.” We know from earlier parts of the passage their acceptance by their neighbors wasn’t because they were compromising or trying to blend in. They were living lives of radical obedience to God, yet that didn’t turn people away or put them off. It drew outsiders in.
What would it be like to so order our community life that the promise of John 13:35 came true in us?
10) Be close … and be open.
“…and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
To me, this has always been the hardest balance of community. I remember my youth pastor asking me and two girlfriends to spend a little less time together when we were in large group settings because we were making others feel excluded. At the same time, it’s impossible to include everyone all the time, because you just can’t know 100 people intimately. If we’re not somewhat selective in our relationships, we end up being a mile wide and an inch deep.
This passage encourages me that balance is possible. The early church enjoyed deep fellowship, but they also made room for new brothers and sisters to enter their community on a daily basis. I don’t know how they accomplished it, but it helps me to know that through God’s grace and His Spirit, they did.
What is the hardest part of investing in community for you? Where have your intentional investments in cultivating community produced the most fruit?