"Gathering In, Going Out"
Acts 2:42-47 has to be one of the favorite passages for a pastor. This passage directly connects the reader to the life of the first century church, immediately following the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Just read the passage...
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
I say this is a pastor's favorite passage because it is what we pray and idealize for the flock that God has called us to shepherd. The descriptions of worship- devotion to teaching, breaking bread (communion), prayer, tithing generously, seeing miracles accomplished, reveling in what we have in common (salvation through Jesus). These are just a few of the realities of the first century church.
As one of the pastor's of a twenty-first century church, I note that neither our church, Willow Creek, nor any church perfectly lives out these. However, I am greatly encouraged and I hope you will be too!
Our church has a vibrant (and growing) small group ministry! We have 14 small groups and are in the process of adding more! Our small group description is, "A small group within the church is a voluntary, intentional gathering of a limited in size group, regularly meeting together, with the shared goal of mutual Christian edification and fellowship!"
Rich & Esther Voorberg's small group is seen below. These folks get together regularly to pray, fellowship, and study God's word together. They spend time together, they encourage each other, they serve each other, and they pray for each other. All of our small groups at WCC have these elements.
The early church in Acts 2 also went out to the community and cared for those in need. They sold possessions and distributed proceeds to those in need and they had favor with people in their community. Another common fact regarding first century Christians was their care for orphans & widows.
Willow Creek Church desires to demonstrate mercy. Church worship attendance and discipleship through Wednesdays@Willow, Sunday School, and Small Groups, gives us the "how-to" of the Gospel, in order that we might go live it out in our community.
A simple expression of showing mercy to those in need is our "Side by Side" ministry. This ministry is designed to care for the children and the parents of those who live predominately in single parent homes due to seperation, divorce, imprisonment, death, etc. We meet monthly to care and nuture our kids with food, fellowship, fun, and good discussion.
Here is a picture from a recent Side by Side gathering.
Willow Creek Church, you are so loved by our Lord Jesus. As the church, we have been called to be Jesus' hands and feet here in Seminole County. May you get connected in community, and reach out in service, for God's glory and your good.
WCC Pastor of Families & Connections