Acts 2:42-47 (click for full reading)
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” –Acts 2:42
The Business We’re In
(Click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
During the message this week we saw pictures of a number of church buildings that no longer serve the mission they were constructed to support. From apartments to office space to furniture stores, hundreds of churches cease being places of worship and outreach every year in the United States.
The reasons congregations eventually close down are complex and varied, but one contributing factor is often a kind of consumer mentality that creeps in over time. “Am I being fed? Do I like the music? Is there great programming for my kids?” When most of the questions are related to my preferences and needs, I may be missing the point. When this becomes the primary way a congregation determines how to operate, the mission and purpose of the church will falter.
Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. –Acts 2:46-47
I hope that something like the passage we read from Acts 2 today could serve as our answer to the question, “hey, what business are you in over there at Prince of Peace?” We are called together by the gospel of Christ to be a joyful, generous, worshiping, serving and inviting community. That’s the business we’re in. Even though many churches are struggling today, I believe that people still want to be part of this kind of community.
Our mission statement is Grow Deep, Reach Out! Thanks be to God that our campus continues to be a place of worship, learning and outreach and not a place to purchase Danish furniture or have an x-ray done. (You’ll have to listen to the message to get these references!)
Questions to discuss/ponder
1) Where do you notice the consumer mentality in the congregation today? Do you admit to seeing this approach to being a church member in your own life at times?
2) Have you ever worshipped at a congregation that is now closed? Do you know what factors led to the closing?
3) The vast majority of mainline churches (Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Catholic, Presbyterian, etc.) have experienced significant decline in recent decades. What would you consider to be some of the main causes of this decline?
This week I encourage you to think honestly and prayerfully about your own place in the church. If you recognize ways that you have been a “consumer member” or an “employee member” as described in this sermon, consider moving toward the kind of “partner member” that fueled the early church we read about in Acts 2. After all, this is where the real action is and where we experience the abundant life Jesus is determined to give us.