I can’t help but be in awe of the Jerusalem church. They started on the day of Pentecost with nearly 3000 members (Acts 2:41). Then they just kept growing from there. According to Acts 4:4, the number of men came to be about 5000. That means they could have more than 10,000 members by the time you count wives, unmarried women, widows, and children. In Acts 5:14-16, we learn that multitudes of men and women continued to be added to the church and they were influencing folks from the surrounding towns. In Acts 6:7, we see that even some of the priests (who were often Sadducees) were becoming Christians. What tremendous growth they had.
Of course, we know about the persecution that took place in Acts 8:4 scattering everyone except the apostles. However, by the time Paul visited Jerusalem in Acts 21:20, the church was in the thousands again.
The church was so strong that they were able to send brethren to help out in other congregations even after the persecution started. In Acts 8:14, Peter and John were sent to help the Christians in Samaria. In Acts 11:22, they sent Barnabas to help strengthen the fledgling church in Antioch.
In Acts 4, we see them face down the beginnings of persecution. In Acts 6 we see them over come potential division. In Acts 15, we see them lead the way to unity between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.
Jerusalem is definitely a model for us. But what did they actually do? Is there anything we can actually emulate? Can we be what they were? I think we can. We simply need to examine their work on a very practical level. Sadly, few churches today ever become what Jerusalem was because few of us do what they did. Sure, we teach what they taught. But sometimes we avoid the very practical way in which they conducted their work and so we limit the growth and success we can have.
Over the next several Thursdays (I haven’t figured out how many yet), I’d like to examine the Jerusalem church and see what made it successful and what didn’t. I hope this can spark some great discussion for us as we strive to be what God wants us to be as individual Christians and as congregations.
Remember, God’s way works.
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