My mom has been visiting with us from Western New York for the last month.  It has been great to have the time with her.  We often would talk about the “old days.”  Don’t you like to do that too?  It’s fun to take a look back and consider how things were in days gone by.  We learn a lot by considering where we are today and where we once were.  What is the same and what is different?

So much has changed in our modern culture.  We have many high-tech gadgets and lots of comforts.  Yet our world’s fast pace often leaves us lacking in the simpler things of life – like leisure time and a peaceful spirit.  A glance at the news can often leave us frustrated and even depressed.  This generation doesn’t appear to have the same values and priorities as earlier generations.  It can seem as though we live in a world that is nothing like the way it “used to be.”  Is that the same for the Church?  Have we drifted from the nature and purpose of the Church that Christ established in the first century?  To find out, we need to take a look back.

In our new Sunday message series, we are taking a closer look at the Book of Acts, and in particular what it tells us about the early church.  We know that in the big picture, the Church was meant to be a vibrant, balanced and growing community of disciples of Jesus.  Over these five weeks we’re going to take a closer look at five aspects of the Church:

  • Week 1: The Transforming Word. In the early chapters of Acts, we see the Apostle Peter heal a lame man outside of the temple. Peter took the opportunity to preach to the crowd that was gathered there. Peter wanted everyone to know that the healed man was not just physically healed, but his life was transformed. One of the marks of Christ’s Church is where God’s people are transformed by His Word.
  • Week 2: An Unstoppable Force. In the chapter after Peter healed the lame man, we see him preach a powerful sermon. Then he and John were arrested by the religious authorities who felt threatened. Though they were ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, Peter and John responded that they could not help speaking about what they had seen and heard. Those experiences were so real and so life-changing that they couldn’t help but speak about them.  The same is true for the Church today – when we go deeper in our faith, we inevitably go wider, telling others.
  • Week 3: An Empowering Presence. After Peter and John were released from prison, they went straight to their own people—the church. We don’t come to church to escape the world but to encounter God—to turn to Him, hear from Him and be shaped by Him in light of what happens in this life. Real worship of God is a whole-person experience, where the Holy Spirit engages our heart, mind and will.
  • Week 4: The Shared Life. We’ve been talking about Growth Groups a lot at Redeemer. Why?  Quite simply, the Early Church gathered regularly outside of weekly worship to encourage each other and do life together.  We, as the Church today, need to carry on this important aspect of our faith and life.
  • Week 5: A Heart for Service. In the book of Acts we learn that the Church is meant to be a serving Church, where everyone exercises his or her God-given heart for ministry. As a congregation, we want to get better at helping believers discover and employ the gifts God has given them to serve others.

A look backward over where we have come can prove very useful for guiding our present course and future direction – as a church, and as God’s people.

Journeying with you!

Pastor Augie.