Model commitment for younger believers to see. The first year will have special demands that require sacrifice. Employment demands, time away, and personal interests, should be carefully weighed.
- Study the Word II Tim. 2:15
- Feed the flock of God I Pet. 5:2
- Provide clear leadership Heb. 13:7,17,24 “your leaders” JND, NIV
- Be careful how you build I Cor. 3:10-17
- Beware of inflexibility, narrowness, legalism
With regard to the internal functions of the church, follow Acts 2:42. This verse provides the logical (not necessarily chronological) order for church meetings:
Teaching – is first because God speaks first and His Word takes priority. From it, all life and growth follows as a response. Where the word of God does not come, life will not come forth. The word of God builds the church!
Fellowship – is the evidence that the Word God speaks has taken root in the heart. The principle was spelled out graphically by the Lord Jesus in Matt. 25:31-46. To do something for the Lord’s people is to do it for Himself. Faith without works is dead.
Breaking of Bread – the time to gather around the Lord and express our love to Him. Why, some wonder, was this not first or at least second in the list? Again the Lord shows the answer: In Matt. 5:23-24, our priorities are clearly established: God cannot accept worship from a heart that has not cared for his brother. When harmony has been removed from the family, the word is: “leave there thy gift and go…”
Prayer – The world is a hostile place, and before returning there for all the labors and necessities of life, it is important that the believers give thanks for blessings received, and request help for their needs – both spiritual and temporal.
With regard to the external (and specifically the outreach) functions of the church, study the lessons of the following three key passages in the Gospels:
1) Luke 10:30-37: The parable of the good Samaritan
This wonderful story told by the Lord teaches some great lessons about outreach. But the one I want to emphasize is this: The good Samaritan is not a hero because he wandered through streets searching for wounded people to assist. Rather, he was a man who, like us, had things to do, and he happened on a man in need that the providence of God allowed to be in his pathway. He laid aside his personal plans for the moment and cared for the wounded man.
Outreach in the church is not primarily looking for people we do not know, but caring for people whom God has placed in our pathway. One rarely meets a Christian worker who goes door-to-door that can answer “yes” to this question: “Have you followed up on all those people whom the Lord has already placed in your pathway?” Outreach takes place best when each person in the fellowship is helping and witnessing to contacts they already have, family, neighbors, friends, workmates etc.
2) John 4:1- 45: The meeting between the Lord Jesus and the woman at the well
Many cut off all contact with “the world” when they become Christians. But the Lord Jesus not only accepted such contact, He sought it out. And He did not merely lecture the woman, He dialoged with her. And beyond that, He actually asked for her help! Some would object to such “fellowship with the world,” but the Lord did not see it as fellowship, but the way to show love and compassion to this woman. He allowed her to serve him, meeting an inner need that many have today.
We have a man in our young church who is not yet a believer. After finding out that he loves to make his “famous” chocolate chip cookies, we always invite him to our functions, and tell him of our need for his help with desert. He comes and listens and has shown real interest in the people and the message, but he always brings desert.
3) Luke 15:11- 32: Here is the famous story of the prodigal son
Again, there are many lessons to learn, but the point I’d like to highlight is this: when the son repented and returned from the far country to his father, it is interesting to note the father’s action. He did not bring the boy into the house that he might place upon him the marks of sonship, the ring, the robe and the shoes. These were carried out of the house and placed upon him at the very point of his confession, perhaps in the street. He was not made fit to enter the house by being brought into the house, but rather by receiving a message of by those who met him.
Consider the lesson for outreach from this passage. Many have only this message for lost people: “If you would only come to church with me.” The idea that this is not a Biblical witness never occurs to them. They have been taught to believe that people come to Christ when they hear the gospel through an evangelist or qualified preacher. But the best way for outreach to take place is made plain in this passage. Every believer is a witness, and should be prepared (equipped) to share the good news directly with contacts the Lord may provide. In this way, the church remains a training center for the family of believers who then go forth as witnesses for the Lord. This truth is taught in many Scriptures like Psalm 126:6. It is the sole method practiced by the apostles in the Acts.