3:18 p.m. Today's project is to ready ourselves for Home Fellowship at 5:30 p.m., and then to Sandals' evening service with our daughter Heather and son-in-law Nick at 7. We'll need to leave our group discussion by 6:15, because we'll be traversing all of Moreno Valley to the north end of Riverside. They have been inviting us since their new sanctuary has been open for services. We visited their "Trunk 'n Treat" Halloween alternative event last fall, and it was the largest church event I've ever been too. (Nick, heather and their friends' octopus display is pictured above). Steve and I could hardly make our way through the thousands of young families, visiting dozens of booths set up in the trunks of cars. Their location out in the industrial Northside of Riverside gives them access to a fairly unchurched community with many huge multiple-family housing units. May the Lord give them an open door of ministry to preach the gospel!
Sandals' focus on body ministry as the path to evangelism is centered around Small Groups that meet in homes. We love that because Steve and I met in a home Bible study out of Harvest Christian Fellowship 31 years ago; subsequently we attended various home studies as a couple and as a family. I taught several books of the Bible to women through the 1980' s in our home as well. Ever since our youngest son went away to college four years ago, we have participated in home fellowships through Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley, and we enjoyed a summer married couples' study through Harvest the last two years.
We are utterly convinced that the pattern of the early church, the small home meeting, most closely resembles the Early Church. Acts 2:41-47, which we studied last summer in the home of our friends Jeff and Monica Tomchek, describes the explosive growth and lifestyle of believers after Peter's Sermon on the Day of Pentecost:
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
What we see here is the perfect model for the Body of Christ, with an astounding yield of saved souls and sweet fellowship!
- The Gospel is preached
- Salvation is offered
- Listeners repent
- New believers are added to the church
- Believers continue in the apostles' doctrine
- Believers have fellowship
- Meals are shared from house to house
- Corporate prayer is a constant
- Signs and wonders were done through the apostles
- Possessions were shared, and divided among all as needs arose
- Believers continued daily in one accord in the temple, praising God
- The church had favor with all of the people
THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH DAILY THOSE WHO WERE BEING SAVED.
I am certain that the love demonstrated by the early church drew members of the public like a magnet. As it was 2,000 years ago, it is today: you have to love before you lead!