Living in primitive one-room homes on the side of an active volcano, I experienced a church that personified beauty. Their beauty wasn’t found in ornate stained glass windows or plush carpet. Come to think of it, the church didn’t even have windows or flooring!
As we worshiped in Guatemala, looking around, I whispered to myself, “What a beautiful church – perhaps the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen.” Honestly, to return to the climate controlled, multi-million-dollar facility known as my church was a bit of a downer after worshiping in that little village close to the equator.
I had an epiphany about why the church in Guatemala seemed so much more beautiful. That church looked more like the first century church than mine. They worshiped without time constraint, they certainly gave sacrificially even in poverty and it was apparent that God was doing things in that crowded room that I hadn’t seen God do before back in the US. So how can we make our church more like a New Testament church?
Here are 3 values of the early church. As you read them, think about your church. Identify some ways your church can take steps to capture the bliss of creating something beautiful in your faith community.
Value 1: Vibrant Prayer
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Acts 2:42 HCSB
Old truth. Still true. Prayer has to begin the process. Pray constantly as a fellowship! Take steps this year to make your church a house of prayer.
Schedule a night of prayer in which people come to the church to pray at allotted times throughout the night.
Teach your students how to pray. They must have this skill as the days grow darker.
Reboot your prayer room in the church
Make small group praying a part of your main worship experience. Don’t use it simply as transitions for the offering, sermon or music.
Value 2: Divine Activity
Everyone felt a deep sense of awe, while many miracles and signs took place through the apostles. Acts 2:43 (Phillips)
Look for God’s hand in what your church is doing. How is God at work. Not only in your church but around the world. We often tend to talk about how bad the world is becoming and we forget all the amazing things God is doing around our city, our state or around the world. Check out these videos . They’d be a great starting point to the celebration.
Value 3: Dangerous Generosity
All the believers shared everything in common; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to individual need. Acts 2:44 (Phillips)
It’s just a fact that God blesses a giving church. In Louisiana we have the opportunity to give together through the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering . This offering is our statewide effort to make sure everyone in Louisiana could be impacted by the gospel through
- church planting
- evangelistic efforts
- hunger relief
- Compassion ministries
- scholarships for emerging leaders
- crisis pregnancy
- missions education
- training for new leaders
- church revitalization
- and the Here For You media campaign that has reached millions across Louisiana with a message of hope and salvation.
The generosity of churches giving away thousands to projects, ministries and missions outside their reach is a direct reflection of what the first church was doing.
As believers we personally have a great opportunity everyday to live with an open hand of generosity. Every weekend, as a church, we get to do it together. When we do that in a mud hut or a storied church plant we can whisper to each other.
The church is beautiful.