While I wish I didn’t have to learn the lesson the hard way, one of the first lessons I learned as a pastor was you couldn’t preach a church healthy. Now, please don’t get me wrong––preaching is vitally important, and we’re to do so faithfully week in and week out. God uses our faithful preaching (and even our flubs here and there) to grow the people He has called us to shepherd.
However, early on in my ministry, I thought preaching was it. I just knew if I could have the evangelistic effectiveness of Billy Graham, the awesome alliteration of Adrian Rogers, the passionate proclamation of John Piper, and the expert exposition of Alistair Begg, I’d have the Midas touch on any church I served. Of course, I’m not Billy, or Adrian, or John, or Alistair––I’m Matt. While I am an evangelistic, alliterating, passionate expositor, I soon learned ministry was far more than sermons.
Enter Acts 2:42-47, which was a potent recipe for the early church that, at times, has found itself ignored in many modern churches…including mine. I had a devotion to Scripture on lock, but I wasn’t as apt to be devoted to fellowship, prayer, worship, and evangelism. Don’t get me wrong––I loved me some potlucks, I prayed, I sang, and I evangelized, but it took a few years to learn ministry that honors Christ is more than a weekly sermon, quarterly potluck, sparsely attended prayer meetings, and so forth.
No, to lead a church that honors Christ, I needed a glimpse of the early church’s devotion to a few things that’ve been lost or obscured over the years. In fact, more than a glimpse, I need to grasp the how and why this “recipe” cooks up a ministry that’s effective 365 days a year. And more than glimpsing and grasping, I needed to gain a realization these five things will be the only way I can lead a church that truly honors Christ and will last long after I’m gone.
What if what we need aren’t more gimmicks or creative sermon series, but a return to a 1st Century Church in the 21st Century? I encourage you to grab your Bible, a highlighter, a pen, and a journal, and spend some time with Acts 2:42-47, because it’s more than a passage, it’s a blueprint for a ministry that glorifies God as His Word prescribes.
As we aim to lead like Jesus, maybe we need to return to His Word and devote ourselves to the things it says are important. Sharing the gospel, loving others, and so forth––we know this stuff, the key is to do it.