Acts 2 Church & Ministry Has Fellowship

Fellowship

There are two common definitions for the word “fellowship”.  The first defines fellowship as a friendly association of people who share a common interest.  The second defines fellowship as a group of people that are in an official group.  In the case of the church, I believe both apply.  A church body should be more than a bunch of people meeting in a space to receive information from the Pastor, it should be more akin to a family gathering or people who come together to celebrate their shared passions.

In Tolkien’s book “The Lord of the Rings” a group of unlikely characters rally together united in a common goal, and they refer to themselves as a fellowship.  Over the course of the story, this fellowship become more than strangers … they become friends, then really family.  They break bread with one another, face trials with one another, loss and grief, life and hope with one another.  By the end of the story, there is a deep and binding connection among the fellowship that endures even when life separates them.

This type of relationship is something that many are striving for, especially our women.  Yet, time and time again, I hear about how lonely they are.  In a world where we are connected instantly to one another, at the touch of a button, fellowship is an areas where we seem to be lacking greatly.  A ministry that is spending all of it’s time teaching is going to develop women who are Biblically smart, but without an emotional connection it will remain superficial … like a group of professors in a collegiate fellowship.  Sharing ideas, asking questions, etc.   To get to the emotional connectedness, women in particular need opportunities to live life alongside one another.

Fellowship has to extend beyond Bible Studies and Small Group, and into opportunities to get to know one another at a personal level.  We should be careful to not focus so much on fellowship that we neglect teaching, but rather find a balance where we are building a community that is growing in connection and in knowledge.  When scheduling social events with the women in your church, we need to make sure that they are also events that are connecting the women to Christ.  This doesn’t require teaching per say, but opportunities to model Christlikeness.  

Fellowship will:

  • Help your women develop authentic relationships with one another.
  • Deep connectedness where they can lean on each other in times of trial.
  • Creating family connections, particularly women who are not near their family.
  • Open the doors for women to invite their family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Transition new members into the family of believers, guiding toward Small Groups.

An Acts 2 Church & Ministry Has Consistency

Consistency

In Acts 2, we learn that the early church met regularly, and daily they added to their numbers (Acts 2:47).  The early church had momentum, and part of that was rooted in the fact that the community of believers was having frequent opportunities to gather and connect with one another.  In this time, they would be able to teach and learn, praise and worship, and also pray and serve.  As they connected to one another they were building new habits as not just a community but as a family.

When I was a child, all of my family was in close range.  We met for weekly dinners at my grandmother’s house.  Major holidays, we were always together.  As we entered into adulthood… marriage… children… buying homes… distance began to enter the picture.  For a period of time there was one thing we could count on, we all went to the same church.  Even that would eventually change.  Now, we don’t spend nearly 1/4 of the time together we once did.  And, I believe, in part, that is due to the fact that we fell out of habit.  The less regularly we met, the easier it was to allow more time to pass between family gatherings.  

The same happens with our church family when we allow too much time to pass between gathering in our community of believers.  

Hebrews 10: 25 (NIV)

Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There is value in consistent, regular, gathering.  When my husband was under going several surgeries, our attendance to church during that time was very sparse.  The more time away, the easier it became to make excuses not to show that morning.  Stay apart for too long, and even the most faithful may struggle to return because they have disconnected from the people they share community with. 

In a conversation with ministry leaders recently, we were talking about the value of sabbaticals… how often, and for how long.  Resoundingly, all of those who were in favor of sabbaticals strongly cautioned about not being apart from the body for too long.  Even Pastors recognized how hard it can be to return to the fold, to the habit, to the regular meeting when you have allowed too much time to pass.

As the early church built up their community, over time they were able to move the congregational gatherings to weekly versus daily.  Why?  Because, since the people were already in the habit of meeting regularly… they continued to meet in homes.  Whether it was having a meal together, studying together, etc. they were still committed to regular connection.

What Does This Mean For Women’s Ministry

  1.  CONSISTENT IN MEETING:  A thriving Women’s Ministry is going to meet regularly, how regularly is going to be up to your team and the leadership of the church to decide.  What regularly means is that it is consistent, expected, and scheduled.  When a woman in your church asks: “When is the next Women’s Ministry event?”, you should have an answer.
  2. CONSISTENT IN CONTENT:  Any ministry event should be consistent in it’s content, meaning that the Women’s Ministry should be a reflection of the church it is under. If you are a Missional Church, then your Women’s Ministry should be Missional as well.  If you are a Teaching Church, your Women’s Ministry should be too.
  3. CONSISTENT IN DOCTRINE:  All events, speakers, participants, and activities should be in alignment with the Doctrine of your church/denomination.
  4. CONSISTENT IN EXPECTATIONS:  When your ministry is all over the map, it is hard to have clear expectations in place for the women you serve.  It isn’t uncommon to get wrapped up in trends and implement new exciting ideas one after another.  However, that can create confusion and chaos, and the women have no idea what the ministry is doing at any given time.  Therefore there are no clear expectations either.  Whether it is studying the Scriptures, praying regularly, serving the community, or any other good Kingdom thing… make sure your expectations are consistent & well expressed to those you lead.

When you have a clear vision and mission statement for your ministry, then you can create a CONSISTENT Women’s Ministry by vetting all decisions and planning in accordance with that vision and mission.  Consistency is dependable, expected, and committed.  Regular, on-going, connection to people whom we share a common unity under Christ.  From Bible Studies and Small Groups, to Brunches and Ladies Night Out… we become those in between services opportunities for the community of women to gather and walk through life together.

Remember, how Acts 2:47 said that they added to their number daily?  That is the benefit of consistency, the more you meet… the more women who will attend, as the word gets out about the amazing community you have established in your church.  The more women attending the events, the more women will connect to the church.  You will see your event attendance increase, and your church attendance increase… and this increase brings more women (and their families) to the greatest gift we could receive.  We open the doors, welcoming them into the House of the Lord, introducing them to Jesus.

 

What is an Acts 2 Church & Ministry?

What is anActs Ministryin an Acts Church

There is a term talked about in regard to the Church, the “Acts 2 Church”.  Before we talk about this in the terms of Women’s Ministry, let’s define what exactly that means for the Church overall.

When someone refers to an “Acts 2 Church”, they are talking about a church that it is structured based on the example in Acts 2 of the New Testament.

In a nutshell:

They were gathering regularly, dependent on the apostles teaching and leadership, selling off their materials to support the Kingdom work, etc.  This was an early church that lacked maturity and so in it’s formation they were consistent in teaching well and often.  They were supporting the work, they were taking care of one another, and fellowshipping with each other often.

Over time, as they matured, the apostles were able to disciple leaders into positions of authority to elders, deacons, and into the body of believers.  They were able to meet less frequently because they had the tools to study at home, daily gatherings moved to weekly.   They moved from selling off all their excess to setting aside money to support the work being done.  The teaching church became a missional or evangelizing church as the gentiles became members of the body.  All of this leading to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 where the apostles began to clarify the expectations of believers now that gentiles were part of the mix.  They wanted clarity so that all of the churches shared the same foundational beliefs.

Maturity took time to establish.  Establishing knowledge through regular teaching.  Establishing connection by regular fellowshipping.  Establishing the standards for giving and serving.

If I were to try and establish a Women’s Ministry (or other internal ministry, sub-ministry) in the Acts 2 Church… what would that look like if we assume the same principles would apply?

  1.  CONSISTENCY – I know that a lot of ministry leaders look at the task ahead and think we’ll start with 1 event and work from there, because a full calendar looks intimidating.  Consistency is important because it establishes habit.  There is a reason why the model of having a regularly scheduled event (like a brunch on the 1st Saturday of the month) works.  It helps the women get in the habit of gathering.  It is expected, we know… even if we don’t know the details of the event… that something is happening with the women of the church.  We can plan for that, put it on our calendars.  We teach the women how to interact with the Women’s Ministry, even if that means coming on strong at first and then scaling back.
  2. TEACHING – It is good to gather as a community, but we must not forsake the reason we are gathering.  To worship, honor, and glorify God.  This doesn’t mean that every single event has to be a deep theological college course, or workshop on systematic theology.  It does mean that there is purpose and intention behind every event that is in line with bringing people to the feet of Christ.
  3. FELLOWSHIP – We gather to as a community, a family.  Fellowship binds us emotionally to one another, aware of each other’s hurts and struggles so that we can help, able to celebrate victories and milestones as a family, and to safe guard ourselves from the temptations of the world.  The lone sheep is far more vulnerable to attack than the ones packed into a tight flock, under a Good Shepherd.
  4. PRAYER – A community that is united in consistent teaching and fellowship will result in a group that is also consistently united in prayer.  They know how and why to pray through the Word, they are compelled to pray for one another as fellowship connects their lives, and they understand that prayer is an active form of Worship.
  5. WORSHIP – A healthy community that is meeting regularly, well taught, deeply connected, and steeped in prayer will also be a community that Worships with abundance.

The lone sheep is far more vulnerable to attack than the ones packed into a tight flock, under a Good Shepherd.    

~Gena McCown

Over the next few weeks, we are going to break down those 5 points into more specific detail and application to the Church and to our Women’s Ministries.