In a previous post, we discussed how the Great Commission is not a task given to isolated individuals, but an identity given to a community. It doesn’t take long before you see Early Church embrace Jesus’ commission. In Acts 2, we see the first snapshot of the Great Commission lived out. We also see the example that The Chapel’s Community Group’s follow. If the Great Commission is the WHY behind Community Groups, Acts 2 explains WHAT a Community Group is.
In Acts 2:42-47, it highlights three things the Early Church committed to doing and two types of impact that it had.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
Commitment to the Word, Fellowship, and Prayer
In verse 42, Luke describes the commitments of the Early Church: the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, and prayer. These three things guide our Community Groups today. In all our discussions, we focus around biblical passages. Though we may reference other books or use other speakers to help further our discussion, the biblical text always is our starting point. When we gather, we don’t just ask, “What does this mean?” but we ask, “How does this impact my life?”
Though we study the Bible in Community Groups, it is more than a bible study. We take the fellowship part (and the breaking of bread) of the Acts v.42 seriously. The greek word for fellowship (koinonia) means something deeper than a friendly association. It describes people who gather under a common idea or purpose. Though they may differ in wealth, social status, ethnicity, interests, and maturity, they are unified by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the diversity of the individuals, but the unity of the whole that makes Gospel fellowship (koinonia) so powerful. That is why we emphasize the communal aspect of our groups by having weekly food (snacks or a meal) and fellowship. Also, once a month, we have a Hangout Night where there is no set agenda, but to connect with one another.
Lastly, our groups spend time weekly in prayer. This can be done in many forms, but we want all our members to share personal and specific prayer requests. Though we also pray for people outside the group, we want to start with how we can pray for one another. As our groups commit to these three things, we begin to see the same two-fold impact that the Early Church did.
Inward and Outward Impact
As the Early Church committed to the Word, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer, God used his people to have a big impact both within their community and outside it. Starting in Acts 2 and continuing throughout the book of Acts (6:7, 16:5, 9:31), Luke describes the church’s two-fold impact: the strength of the community and the advancement of the mission. The Church grew both in depth (discipleship-maturing believers) and in breadth (evangelism-new believers).
In verses 43-46, Luke describes a community of people that look to the needs of others before themselves (Phillipians 2:3-4). It is our hope that our Community Groups would feel like a group of close friends or family. That it would look similar to Luke’s description as we live out the “one anothers” of the faith. In doing so, we put Christ on display and share the Gospel with each other with every selfless act.
In verse 47, Luke describes not just the impact the Early Church had with each other, but outside the church. It says that they had favor with “all people” and that the “Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”Our Community Groups are open by nature because we know how much the group has benefited us and we want to extend that to others. As new people are welcomed in and experience the “koinonia,” we believe that Christ will use our members to help them meet Jesus personally. This is why we always encourage our members to invite new people and we intentionally have nights designed with a non-believer in mind.
When our Community Groups function as Acts 2 fellowships, we will provide a life-changing community where both non-believers, new believers, and mature believers can belong, believe, and become….more on that next week!