Introduction: Have you asked yourself, “What should we do as
a church to grow?” “What church activities will strengthen
the members and increase our outreach?” This week we study
some of the activities of the early church during a time of
great growth. Let’s jump into what their experience has to
- Church activity: study.
- Read Acts 2:41-42. This follows Peter’s message at
Pentecost. Assume that 3,000 new members came into
your church. What would you do? What does this
text reveal that the early church did with the
- When verse 42 says that the members “devoted”
themselves to certain activities, what do you
think that means?
- Are you devoted to any of the activities
of your church? If so, what are they?
- If not, why not?
- What can we do to increase the level of
“devotion” among the new members to the
church? Would your answer also apply to
the “old” members of the church?
- The first thing the members were devoted to is
“the apostles’ teaching.” How would you apply
this idea to the new members in your church?
- Does your church have any sort of class
to teach new members the doctrines of the
church? Does it have any class to teach
the old members?
- What reason is there to teach the
doctrines of the church? Any reason
not to teach them?
- Does the value of doctrinal teaching
turn on the number of doctrines held
by the church? If you had a large
number of doctrines, would teaching
them all be more or less helpful?
- So far I have equated the “apostles’
teaching” to the teaching of doctrines.
What do you think the apostles were
teaching? (Most likely what Jesus taught
them. These were Christ centered
- Church activity: fellowship.
- Acts 2:42 also tells us that the members were
devoted to “the fellowship.” What do you think
- Is your church devoted to “fellowship?”
- How important is fellowship to new members?
- Did you notice in the lesson (Monday) the
reference to the Win Arn book that says if new
members cannot name a minimum of seven new
friends in the first six months of membership
they will leave the church?
- Do you think this is true?
- If yes, why? If no, why not?
- Some may say that the church is not
intended to be a social club —
salvation, not socialization, is the
goal. Is socialization important? Is it
more important to new members than to old
- Does your church have a plan or a
program to help new members
establish a friendship with other
- Notice that verse 42 seems to link “the
fellowship” to “the breaking of bread and
prayer.” What kind of fellowship does this
suggest? Is this “the plan” for helping new
members establish a friendship with others?
- I was recently reading a witnessing book
that suggested a meal in connection with
the Bible study for new members. Is it
important to eat in connection with a
Bible study? If so, why?
- What about all that blood going down
to your stomach for digestion,
leaving none in your head for
- What role does prayer play in fellowship? (An
important part of fellowship is the idea of
mutual concern. You pray for fellow members
and it encourages them that you are concerned.
They pray for you and it encourages you.)
- Does Acts 2:42 suggest that Bible study,
prayer and eating are a God-approved formula
for strengthening the membership? Creating
friendships among members?
- Do you have this formula in action in
- Read Acts 2:43. Is your church filled with “awe?”
Is the day of “awe” past?
- If we were devoted to teaching, fellowship and
prayer, would we see more miracles in our
churches? Would these miracles fill us with
- As I think about these verses and how to apply
them to our church today, the idea of “small
groups” or “cells” jumps into my mind? Should you
have small groups in your church who meet together
to eat, study the Bible, pray and fellowship?
- What advantage do you see in such groups
over merely showing up for church each
week? (These groups allow members to get
to know each other. While it might be
hard to keep track of missing members at
church, with a small group you are much
better able to notice who is missing and
who needs encouragement.)
- Church activity: nurture.
- Read Acts 2:44-45. Does this mean the early church
members were communists? Our lesson (Sunday) tells
us that having “things in common was not unusual
in Jewish life of the time.” The Wycliffe Bible
Commentary says, “sharing seems to have been
limited to the early years of the Jerusalem church
and was not extended into new churches as the
Gospel was carried beyond Judea.”
- So far I have been treating the description of
the early church as a prescription for church
growth. Is sharing part of the prescription?
Or can we just leave that part out?
- Read Acts 4:32-37. Does this sound like
everyone sold their house or their land? (The
text says “from time to time” assets were
sold. This seems to indicate that property
was sold only as there was a need for
- Notice the result: there were no needy
persons among them. Is that a goal for
our church? Is our church help directed
more to our members or more to
- The Bible commentaries say that the
Barnabas of verse 36 is the same one who
later was Paul’s companion in missionary
- Read Acts 5:1-5. What is the lesson in this
story? That if we do not sell our possessions
we will die? (Look at Peter’s statement in
verse 4. He is clearly saying that selling the
property and giving the money is a voluntary
matter. The sin arose in lying about giving
the full value of the property. Thus, selling
all (or even part) of what we have is not a
requirement according to Peter.)
- If selling what we have and sharing it is not
a Biblical requirement, what do you think we
should do to capture the spirit (and the
blessing) of Acts 2:44-45?
- Church activity: mission
- Let’s continue with our reading of Acts 2. Read
Acts 2:46-47. If they were eating together in
their homes, why did they “meet together in the
temple courts” every day?
- Did they still believe in the sacrificial
system of the temple?
- Was this worship? (I don’t think they needed
to meet in the temple. They would not believe
in the sacrificial system any more. I do not
think this was “worship.” I think they met
every day in the temple to witness to others.)
- Should we still strive to meet in public
places? Should we try to hold meetings in
- Or should we look for ways to bring the public
into our churches?
- Why do you think the text mentions again (see also
v.42) eating together with witnessing? (I think
this is a point we may be missing in our
- What, at bottom, is going on when the
believers feed each other and those to whom
they are witnessing? (Eating together, as we
discussed before, is simple fellowship.
Feeding others meets a central, but
nonreligious, need of the potential convert.)
- In our witnessing today should we add a
“meeting nonreligious needs factor?” For
example, last night I was working with
others on plans for an “evangelistic
series.” We looked at having lectures on
depression, pediatric safety, gardening,
health, back problems, etc. Would these
kinds of lectures be the modern
equivalent of “feeding” those to whom we
- What does verse 47 teach us is the result of this
formula for witnessing? (It is exciting for the
members. They praise God. The public looks on it
with favor. And best of all, new believers came in
- Friend, the role of the church is to facilitate
worship, study, fellowship and evangelism. Are all
four functions working in your church? If not,
what will you do to get things on track?
- Next Week: Structures for Witnessing.