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
teach us!

  1. Church activity: study.

    1. 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

      1. When verse 42 says that the members “devoted”
        themselves to certain activities, what do you
        think that means?

        1. Are you devoted to any of the activities
          of your church? If so, what are they?

          1. If not, why not?

        2. 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?

      2. 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?

        1. 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?

          1. What reason is there to teach the
            doctrines of the church? Any reason
            not to teach them?

          1. 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?

        1. 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

  1. Church activity: fellowship.

    1. Acts 2:42 also tells us that the members were
      devoted to “the fellowship.” What do you think
      this means?

      1. Is your church devoted to “fellowship?”

      2. How important is fellowship to new members?

      3. 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?

        1. Do you think this is true?

          1. If yes, why? If no, why not?

        2. 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

          1. Does your church have a plan or a
            program to help new members
            establish a friendship with other

      4. 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?

        1. 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?

          1. What about all that blood going down
            to your stomach for digestion,
            leaving none in your head for

      5. 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.)

      6. Does Acts 2:42 suggest that Bible study,
        prayer and eating are a God-approved formula
        for strengthening the membership? Creating
        friendships among members?

        1. Do you have this formula in action in
          your church?

    2. Read Acts 2:43. Is your church filled with “awe?”
      Is the day of “awe” past?

      1. If we were devoted to teaching, fellowship and
        prayer, would we see more miracles in our
        churches? Would these miracles fill us with

    3. 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?

        1. 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.)

  2. Church activity: nurture.

    1. 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.”

      1. 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?

      2. 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
        additional money.)

        1. 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

        2. The Bible commentaries say that the
          Barnabas of verse 36 is the same one who
          later was Paul’s companion in missionary

      3. 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.)

      4. 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?

  3. Church activity: mission

    1. 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?

      1. Did they still believe in the sacrificial
        system of the temple?

      2. 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.)

      3. Should we still strive to meet in public
        places? Should we try to hold meetings in
        government buildings?

      4. Or should we look for ways to bring the public
        into our churches?

    2. 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

      1. 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.)

        1. 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

    3. 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

    4. 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?

  4. Next Week: Structures for Witnessing.