Join The Conversation: Building Apostolic Communities

Fostering and Forging Apostolic Communities

Psalms 133:1-3(NLT) - Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.

This Thursday, August 20th, we are excited to have as a special guest at Coffee Shop Conversations, Apostle Jemma Duncan, the author of "Fostering and Forging Apostolic Communities". This will officially kick off, "Building The Church", our revolutionary weekend of meetings at The Body Church with both Apostles Jemma and Emanuel Vivian Duncan. For this week, this blog will serve simply to whet your appetite as we await The Word of The Lord through the Apostles.

Acts 2:1-12(NLT) - When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

Our latest sermon series at The Body Church is called "One" and it's an intense study of unity in the local church first and then in The Body of Christ as a whole. When we look at the beginning of The Church in Acts 2 we see a couple simple things happen in a very specific sequence with fascinating results. Let's take a look.

How The Church Was Built!

1) Jesus left a group of 120 people to wait for The Holy Spirit in The Upper Room. This was the first step of the process. Jesus said wait for The Holy Spirit before doing anything else and they obeyed.

2) They were unified in one place until The Holy Spirit showed up and anointed everyone of them. The Bible said that they were in one accord in one place. That's the type of atmosphere that's ripe for a move of God's Spirit.

3) They all received a common language (The Language of The Spirit) which enabled them to say the same things (testify of God's wonderful works) with completely different tongues, none of which were native to them but were easily understood by the foreigners gathered around listening to them.

4) Apostle Peter stood up and preached the first church sermon ever and it was a long one. Someone has to say something even though everyone experiences the power of The Holy Spirit. Church communities cannot grow without good teaching. Talking in tongues, prayer, prophesying, dancing, falling out, etc. are all good but preaching is important too.

5) The message ended with an altar call during which the first 3000 people got saved. Peter taught the people about the crucified and resurrected Jesus and they responded by committing their lives. Jesus was lifted up from the earth and He drew all men to Himself. He just did it that time through Peter.

6) The Church developed from 120 people waiting for The Holy Spirit in a room to a community of at least 3,120 who engaged in some very specific activities outlined in the following verses.

Acts 2:40-47(NLT) - And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

7) They devoted themselves to The Apostle's teaching. In other words, The Apostles kept teaching and the people kept doing what they were taught. One sermon from Peter, though quite effective, was not enough. The same applies to us.

8) They devoted themselves to fellowship. People spent time together which meant that even though they were different they learned to get along. We can't hate each other and fellowship. Church communities share life together. Lone rangers have no place in church. Plug in!

9) They devoted themselves to sharing meals including Communion. When people eat together it builds community. The same way families grow when they all sit at the table together, church communities grow when people eat together. Note that I didn't say churches grow. I said church communities. There's a difference. You can have a big church but that doesn't make it a community. 😉

10) They committed themselves to prayer. Have you ever heard the saying, "the family that prays together stays together?" Well, it applies to church families too. When it's time to pray we should all show up in the same numbers as when it's time to listen to The Word, hang out together or eat. All four are crucial to building the church community. You can't leave out any of them.

11) When the top ten were complete, God moved through miraculous signs and wonders among The Church. That was the order. The first miracle was The Holy Ghost falling upon everybody, then other miracles followed.

12) They helped each other out. Church communities take care of their own. We look out for each other first even before we try to look out for the community around us. We are a community already. It starts at "home".

13) They went to church consistently. You can't build a church community if people don't go to church. That's an easy step to follow because it's directly related to being devoted to The Apostle's teaching. People who show up on Sunday morning get something to follow during the week.

14) They hung out at each other's homes. This one's special for me because I grew up in a pastor's home where people would show up at our house uninvited, some of whom we did not even know. Thankfully, those days are over. However, church communities grow as people spend time at each other's homes when invited, of course.

15) They enjoyed each other. This seems too simple to make the list but it's pretty important. We have to enjoy each other's company. When people like each other, they enjoy each other. Truthfully, you don't have to like everybody you meet or even know, but at the very least, you should like the people at your church. To build the community you should enjoy each other's company.

With these 15 characteristics in place The Church community grew daily as God kept adding people. Additionally, miracles and wonders were done consistently at the hands of The Apostles. If that does not describe your church community, you're invited to Coffee Shop Conversations on Thursday night. If it does, you're also invited because we would love to hear how you do it. Today's blog is just a quick introduction. It doesn't do justice to what my mother, Apostle Jemma Duncan will teach from her book, "Fostering and Forging Apostolic Communities". If you live in the Atlanta area, don't miss it. What are your thoughts? Join the conversation.

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