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The Church by Example in the Book of Acts

Posted by on Jul 21, 2011 in definition, scripture | 6 comments

The Church by Example in the Book of Acts

As Dave Black has mentioned on his blog (see his post from Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:34 p.m.), he has asked me to teach the Book of Acts in his New Testament class. I’ve decided to title the lecture “The Church by Example in the Book of Acts.”

Obviously, I can’t cover the entire book in one 3 hour session. (In fact, I think I will only have about 2 hours or so, which further limits what I can teach.) So, I’ve decided to focus on the descriptions of the church that we read about in Acts, and perhaps briefly consider those descriptions in comparison to the church today.

(By the way, in case you didn’t know, our church also happens to be studying through the Book of Acts now. We just finished discussing Acts 10 together last Sunday, and we’ll cover Acts 11 next Sunday. I don’t think we’ll finish Acts before I’m scheduled to teach this class.)

As I think through the various ways the church is described in the Book of Acts, I also want to take into account the general tone of the book. Acts is primarily a book of actions (duh… it was called “Acts” for a reason). Because of this, I’m trying to use verbal descriptors (gerunds… words ending in “ing”).

So, here are some of the descriptions I’ve noticed so far (in no particular order):

In the Book of Acts, the church is…

  • a going church
  • a sending church
  • a praying church
  • an eating church
  • a serving church
  • a proclaiming church
  • a suffering church
  • a teaching church
  • a sharing church
  • a gathering church
  • a growing/expanding/increasing church

On that last description, I haven’t decided which term I prefer.

(By the way, the descriptors above are actually categories. In most cases, several verbs fit within each descriptor and help us understand what the descriptor means. I’ll try to share more about that in a later post.)

What do you think about my descriptions of the church in the Book of Acts so far? What changes, additions, deletions would you make to my list?


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  1. 7-21-2011

    I would suggest a Spirit-led church, given the prominence of the Holy Spirit in Acts.

  2. 7-21-2011

    How about relational and organic. Acts 2:41-47

  3. 7-21-2011


    Yes, that’s a very good point. In order to make it an “action”, I might change it to “a following church.”


    I think that the relational and organic nature of the church will come out in some of the actions listed above. Can you think of some other actions that I should add to make sure I don’t miss that nature?


  4. 7-21-2011

    Alan, I did think that relational and organic are described by eating, serving, sharing and gathering, however, I feel like the relational aspect needs to be articulated. I have seen fellowships that eat, serve, share and gather that are not very deep relationally.

    All of those things can be programmed and without the paradigm shift of relationship it can be just another program.

    BTW, I think you have all the bases covered…there just might be other ways of expressing the same things.

  5. 7-21-2011

    A loving church. Which probably needs more description, but I thought I would throw it out there since that descriptor is missing from your list. Sacrificing is one that comes to mind.

    While rereading Romans 16 recently I was struck by how Paul describes the saints he sends greetings to — beloved, mother, kinsman, outstanding, workers, benefactors.

    Another thought is how rapid gatherings were planted and spread. Paul was only in Thessalonica for 3 weeks for example.

  6. 7-21-2011


    Yes, there are certainly other ways to cover the Book of Acts. But, since I only have just over an hour (not 2 hours like I said in the post), then I have to arrange the material somehow. Perhaps I can find a way to bring out the relational aspect.


    I think that the “loving church” aspect is covered in some of the other descriptors. I will look again, but I don’t remember “love” actually used to describe the church in Acts. If I find it, then I’ll definitely add it to the list.