Characteristics of a NT Church

This is teaching from Rick Warren. As always, how do we see King’s Grant measuring up to this standard?

If you want your church to have the impact of the early church, the book of Acts shows us eight essential characteristics we need in our congregations:

Supernatural power (Acts 2:3-4): We don’t just talk about God; we experience Him. This is what makes the church different from every other organization on the planet. We have the Holy Spirit. God promised His Spirit to help His church.

Use everybody’s language (Acts 2:4): This passage isn’t about speaking in tongues. It’s about the gospel being communicated in real languages. People actually heard the early Christians speak in their own languages — whether that was Farsi, Swahili, German, Greek, or whatever. God says from the very first day of the church that the Good News is for everyone. It’s not just for Jews. It’s amazing grace for every race. But the power of Acts isn’t just about the language of your country of origin. It’s also about languages spoken only in particular subcultures — like mothers of preschoolers or people into hip-hop or accountants or truck drivers. God says in His church, everyone’s language gets used. Are you helping your people use their “language” to reach people with the Good News?

Use everyone’s gifts (Acts 2:14, 16, 19, 21): In New Testament times, there weren’t spectators in the Church. There were only contributors; 100 percent participation. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, but everyone is called to serve God. If you want your church to have the impact of the early Church, get everyone involved in the ministry of your church. Make it clear to everyone in the church that passivity isn’t an option. If they want to just sit around and soak up the service of others, let them find another church.

Offer life-changing truth (Acts 2:22-40): The early Church didn’t offer pop psychology, polite moralisms, or nice-sounding inspiration. We must always offer the truth of the gospel. God’s Word has the power to change lives. No other message changes lives like the Good News. No other message changes a guy from a wife-beater to being a loving, responsible husband. It’s when the truth of God’s Word gets into us that we change.

In Acts 2, Peter gives the very first Christian sermon, quoting the Old Testament book of Joel. Peter shares the Gospel in this message. Acts 2 says that the early church devoted itself to the “apostles’ teaching” – the Bible. God’s Word gave the early church power.

Provide loving support (Acts 2:42): The first church loved and cared for one another. The Bible says in Acts 2:42, “They took part in the fellowship, sharing in the fellowship meals and in praying together.” One translation says, “They were like family to each other.” The church isn’t a business. It’s not an organization. It’s not a social club. It’s a family. For our churches to experience the power of the early Church, we’ve got to become the family that they were.

Enjoy joyful worship (Acts 2:46): When the early Church gathered, they celebrated, “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” We must understand and teach that worship is a celebration. It’s a festival, not a funeral. It’s the party for the kingdom of God. When worship is joyful, people want to be there because people are looking for joy. Do you think if our churches were full of glad hearts, joyful words, and hopeful lives, we’d attract other unbelievers? Sure they would.

Make generous sacrifices (Acts 2:44-45): The Bible teaches us to make generous sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. The Christians during the Roman Empire were the most generous people in the empire. In fact, they were famous for their generosity. They literally shared everything, with one another and the poor. The Bible says the early church “shared everything they had … .” That’s a church worth dying for; which is exactly what first-century Christians did. They’d rather die with gladiators and lions in the Coliseum than renounce their faith and their brothers and sisters in God’s family.

Create exponential growth (Acts 2:47): When our churches demonstrate the first seven characteristics of the early Church, growth is automatic. People may have looked at the first Christians as weird, but they liked what they were doing. They saw their love for one another, the miracles that took place in their midst, and the joy that was in their lives, and they wanted what the Christians had.

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A Checklist for Encouragers

The command to “encourage” others is found throughout the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23, Paul gives many specific examples of how we can encourage others. The end of each line is a suggestion you might consider doing to encourage someone else this week.

Build each other up: 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (Point out to someone a quality you appreciate in him or her)

Respect leaders: 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (Look for ways to cooperate with others and influence them to greater achievement)

Hold leaders in highest regard: 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (Hold back your next critical comment about those in positions of responsibility. Say “thank you” to your leaders for their efforts; pray for them regularly)

Live in peace: 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (Seek ways to get along with others)

Warn those who are lazy: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (Challenge someone to join you in a project)

Encourage the timid: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (Encourage those who are timid by reminding them of God’s promises; help them see themselves from God’s perspective)

Help the weak: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (Support those who are weak by loving them and praying for them)

Be patient: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (Think of a situation that tries your patience and plan ahead of time how you can stay calm)

Resist revenge: 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (Instead of planning to get even with those who mistreat you, do good to them)

Be joyful: 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (Remember that even in the midst of turmoil, God is in charge)

Pray continually: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (God is always with you – talk to him)

Give thanks: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Make a list of all the gifts God has given you, giving thanks to God for each one)

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire: 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (Cooperate with the Spirit the next time he prompts you to participate in kingdom work)

Do not treat prophecies with contempt: 1 Thessalonians 5:20 (Receive God’s Word from those who teach it or speak His Word)

Avoid every evil: 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (Avoid situations where you will be drawn into temptation; plan your way of escape)

Count on God’s help: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (Realize that the Christian life is to be lived not in our own strength but through God’s power)

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