This past Sunday I had to stay in AA because I was hosting Dr. Steve Lee and his family. But Pastor Andrew and a handful of people went down to Chicago to still meet and study God’s Word.
Here is an update from Pastor Andrew:
A group of eleven of us gathered together on Sunday, June 25 to “do church” together again: we ate dinner, worshipped, studied the Bible together, and prayed…all outside on the south lawn of the Norris University Center. Being outside on campus really reminded us that the church should be “without walls” and in direct contact with the world around us. The topic of our discussion was Acts 6:1-8:1. We focused on the choosing of the seven and the seizure of Stephen, talking about how this sort of church life could look in our day and age. Here are a few points:
The ministry of the church did not solely rest on the apostles. Rather, when the need arose, others were activated for service. Too often the church today depends on only “professional ministers” but we can see here the beauty and power of “lay people” making themselves available to meet the needs of others around them. The spread of the Word of God and the conversion of even more people (6:7) was a direct result of everyone in the church doing their part. When everyone in the church is moving and working in the same direction, more will put their faith in Christ!
The church was growing into the outlying community and gaining a more diverse flavor. It is easy to forget that the early Christians had to learn as they went along. When the more Greek Jewish believers complained that their widows were not getting food, the church responded wisely by choosing leaders from among them (non-Hebraic Jews) to take charge of distributing food. But they weren’t “token” representatives either- the people chosen for this were “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (6:5). They were fully qualified and had the character training that would maintain the integrity of the church.
Stephen was exemplary of Christ-like commitment that characterized the ethos of the early church. It is important that Stephen was the first martyr recorded in the book of Acts- not an apostle, but a regular member of the church who loved Jesus enough to give his own life to the cause. It is no wonder why the early church changed the world, if its members were as committed as Stephen to following Christ to death. This is the spirit we need to recapture in the church today: people who are radically sold out for Jesus and building his Kingdom, whether they be pastors, health care professionals, businesspeople, educators, engineers, mothers/fathers, husbands/wives, college students, graduate students…
We closed out by walking closer to the lake in view of the campus of Northwestern and of the skyline of the city of Chicago. With both in our sights, we asked the Lord to make us into this sort of church. We also prayed for the other churches and ministries in the area and for the new school year coming in September. It is exciting to “do church” here!