The New Year is an appropriate time for new beginnings, both individually and communally.  The New Year is commonly a time where people seek to have a fresh start and to begin good habits that will help them eat better, exercise more, have stronger relationships, be more productive, and be better people.  This is true for church congregations too.  During my pastorate here at 12th Avenue Church, January has often been a time in recent years when we’ve reflected again on our mission and vision as a church.  Since we are involved in the Renewal Lab, January seemed like an appropriate time to refocus on what it means to be the church, or more accurately, to be a local manifestation of the universal body of Christ. 

Throughout the history of the church, revivals and renewals have often taken place as churches and individual Christians have looked back at the early church to rediscover what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ here and now.  Acts 2:42-47 has been a helpful guide for churches wanting to go back to the basics and to live anew the principles of the New Testament Church.  As a participant in the Renewal Lab, we are joining other churches who are using this text as a key to renewal principles in the local body of Christ.  Someone has even formulated an acronym based on this Scripture that reminds us of what it means to be a faithful New Testament church in the twenty-first century and any other century:

New commitments are made

            [Devoted themselves]

Teaching is central

            [Devoted to the apostles’ teaching]

Community runs deep

            [Devoted to fellowship]

Holy presence of God is sought

            [Breaking bread and prayer]

Unexpected is expected

            [Many signs and wonders]

Real needs are met

            [All in common…gave to all in need]

Consistent gathering

            [Temple & homes]

Habitual growth is celebrated

            [Daily there were added]

During this month of January, I will be starting a “N.T.C.H.U.R.C.H.” series based on these verses from Acts 2:42-47.  We will continue this series until mid-February when we enter the season of Lent.  We will conclude this series in mid-May after Lent and Easter.  I trust that the Lord will use this series to help us define and live out these vital principles that will help us as a congregation to enjoy new vitality and effectiveness through the work of God’s Holy Spirit.  Here is the schedule for the series:

January 3         “New Commitments Are Made” – Acts 2:42

January 17       “Teaching Is Central” – Acts 2:42

January 24       “Community Runs Deep” – Acts 2:42

January 31       “Holy Presence of God Is Sought” – Acts 2:42

February 7       “Unexpected Is Expected” – Acts 2:43

April 10            “Real Needs Are Met” – Acts 2:44-45

April 24            “Consistent Gathering” – Acts 2:46-47a

May 1              “Habitual Growth Is Celebrated” – Acts 2:47b

I pray that this series will help us to live out the principles of the New Testament church and to enjoy greater spiritual life and more effective ministry together.

Pastor Mark

Christopher Dekker