What Makes a Strong Church?

There are churches that have left their first love, and churches that are lukewarm and dead (Revelation 2 and 3), but we are interested in what makes a strong church. The best role model we have is the church in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 2:42-47. In verse 42 "... they continued steadfastly in ..."

Doctrine - "The Apostles' doctrine." While the New Testament was being written, the church was instructed by inspired men, men guided by the Holy Spirit. As a result they were united. "They continued daily with one accord" (verse 46). They recognized the apostles' teaching as the only source of authority in religious matters. This brought them together in belief and practice. They were strong because they were united.

Fellowship - There was joint participation in all areas of their life. They prayed together, they ate together, they shared their possessions with those in need, they worshipped together. "They continued daily with one accord." They were a strong church because of their fellowship.

Breaking of Bread - We learn from Acts 2:42 and 20:7 that the church came together every first day of the week to partake of the Lord's Supper. This memorial feast would keep their heart and mind centered on Christ. The only way the church can be strong and remain strong is by keeping its eyes fixed upon Jesus -- the Lord designed the communion for this purpose (1 Corinthians 11:20-26).

Prayer - They continued steadfastly in prayer. They recognized their weakness, and they recognized the unlimited power of God, therefore they prayed continually. When they were threatened and commanded not to preach the word of God, they prayed for boldness to preach, and God answered their prayer. When they appointed deacons, they prayed. When they were being put to death, they prayed for their enemies. When Peter was in prison with the execution date set, the church prayed and God sent an angel to set him free. Jesus had taught them, "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." They believed in prayer. It is my prayer that each congregation of the Lord's church will "... continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." If so, we will remain a strong church.

Roy Dunavin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, Arkansas
Bulletin Article, 18 May 1997

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