Who are we? What is our purpose? What are our goals? What makes us unique? As we continue the process of defining ourselves, let's establish some guidelines. Let's agree on some realities, some values that are scriptural, and therefore some truths that cannot be denied.
1. We must have faith in the Father! Jesus promised to build the church! We can't build it, and neither can we rebuild it. We must faithfully allow God to mold us and make us according to His plans.
2. We must be intentional about evangelism! Jesus came to earth to "seek and save the lost." If we are not intentional about reaching the lost, then we will never live up to His perfect example. Every member of our Body must be trained to share Jesus without fear! Then we must plan and promote evangelism as a primary objective of the entire church.
3. We must be devoted to disciple-making! Our Sunday School must rethink its purpose. Sunday School is not merely a place of Bible Study. It is a place where true Christian disciples are made! Disciples are those who have forsaken all to follow Jesus! Disciples are those who willingly take up their cross to follow Jesus!
4. We must be fanatical about fellowship! The greatest commandment requires us to love one another! Fellowship is not just about potluck dinners. Fellowship is about love. Fellowship requires looking past the faults of others. Fellowship requires sacrifice of selfishness.
5. We must be aggressive about assimilation! The church is not a closed society. We must allow and encourage new people to become an active and important part of the Body … to be adopted into the "First Family."
6. We must have goals that are global! To become an "Acts 1:8" church, we must actively pursue mission opportunities around the globe.
7. We must be simply single-minded! We must make the main thing the main thing! We can't minor on the minors. We must major on the majors! We can't stay so busy doing good things that we miss out on the best thing! We must have the courage to be single-minded!
With these ground rule defined, let's consider the example of the dynamic, revolutionary, world-changing, first century church. The seven realities mentioned above were alive in the first century church. They did have faith in the Father! They were intentional about evangelism. They were devoted to disciple-making, etc. And the early church had three primary functions:
1. They brought people into relationship with God and with God's people – to belong.
2. They provided the resources to help God's people grow spiritually – to believe.
3. They led God's people to become ministers and missionaries by matching people with ministry opportunities – to become.
It should be our goal to imitate this revolutionary first century example in the twenty-first century. The first century church was a place to belong, to believe, and to become. Could we become such a church?