They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. - Acts 2:42-47
Creating, participating and enjoying community has always been a natural outflow of a life centered on worshipping God. There is a richness found in a gospel-centered community that is unparalleled in our other relationships because it is Jesus who stands at the center of our community and draws us together. Looking at Acts 2:42-47 we can see the power of a community worshipping God with one another and enjoying the relationships that are being created within the community.
One of the common mistakes that we make is reading this passage and assuming that everything was simpler back then which allowed them to live in community in such an intimate way. Think of it, no water flowing from your sink to wash dishes, no electricity for lights or heat, no refrigerator to store your food and no email or phone to communicate with. Were things so much easier back then? No, I don’t think so, but these Christians enjoyed an intimate community so much so that when their neighbors and co-workers saw the community, they wanted to be a part of it.
Missional Communities are uniquely positioned to enjoy a similarly intimate relationship like the Christians we see in the Acts passage, but it takes intentionality. While the narrative does not go into details on how they organized these gatherings, can you imagine all of the work and planning that it would take to assemble all of these families in various homes around the city? And think of the work, planning, and sacrifice that it took for families to sell personal belongings in order to take care of the needs of others. This is a beautiful picture of families loving others more than themselves.
As I was thinking about this passage this morning, there were a few things that came to mind that would help us show this same welcoming love, generosity and inclusion into our Missional Communities.
1. Take Care of Needs – Within the Body, needs always arise. It may be the need for meals to help out during the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one or sickness sweeping through a family. When my MC acknowledges that I have a need and seeks to fill it, it speaks volumes to me about their love and care for my family and me. You also may hear about someone that is not connected with an MC, who may have a need. This is the perfect opportunity for your MC to serve and welcome a disconnected family. If the need is great, then multiple MC’s could work together in meeting that need. This is an intentionally loving approach to not only meet a need but to invite them into community.
2. Greet on Sunday Mornings – Every Sunday morning we have new visitors that enter the door of New City. Most visitors are looking for a new church home, a people to call family, to be cared and loved on. This is one of the easiest opportunities to demonstrate exactly what we see in Acts 2 by simply greeting them, welcoming them to New City and inviting them out to lunch or to your MC.
3. Invite to Gatherings – January always presents a unique opportunity because of resolutions and goals set at the beginning of the year. A recent study shows that 63% of people usually make resolutions to some degree and 66% of those fail within the first month. At the top of the list of resolutions made is ‘self-improvement' that covers everything from losing weight to returning to church. So right now is the perfect time to invite friends, neighbors, and co-workers to an MC gathering, a Church service or a Third Place.
As you consider your own missional community, reflect on the ways that you can help foster gospel community and be more intentional in living as a missionary in your own context. And as we do, let’s pray that the Spirit will move among us in such a way that God begins adding to our number everyday, those that will be saved.