I’ve been in a confessing mood lately. So here we go again.
I used to be very, very impressed with Willow Creek Community Church. Really. I thought they had it all figured out, especially the bit about being an Acts 2 kind of church. Throughout Willow’s literature it seems that being an Acts 2 kind of church specifically relates to verses 41, 42, and 46. See their membership information for the details.
What could be better than devotion to sound teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer. That sounds like all the church could ask for.
Or is it? Is Willow Creak just Acts 2-ish?
I don’t know why I’ve always missed this, but Acts 2:43 tacks on a few things that most churches today either ignore or abuse horribly: “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” Well, maybe we are filled with awe at the sound systems or multimedia presentations, but I think it’s safe to say we are lacking in the awe department.
Being an “Acts 2” church means a lot more than meeting and teaching, there is an implication of not only meeting God (the awe part) but experiencing his freedom and power. The down side of this is that churches who believe in the present power of God can abuse it, harnessing it for their own agendas. That doesn’t sound like an Acts 2-ish idea.
While I warm up to the Kingdom of God as the focus of Jesus and of the Gospel (in short, Jesus is Lord), I find more and more room for not only Kingdom-teaching but also Kingdom-action: the miracles and signs. I understand that miracles are disputed by some stodgy theologians and some churches, but let’s pretend for a moment that God can still do everything the Bible claims he is capable of.
In Acts 2:43 there are wonders and miraculous signs, and after reading about tongues of fire and such, the continued display of God’s power must have been pretty impressive. Not only were there most likely miracles, but there must have been signs that connected with the message, much like the signs in the Gospel of John.
And if we can pretend a while longer that signs and miracles can happen, it may help in our “imaginary world” to keep in mind that miracles are not sprinkled around haphazardly like pixy dust. There is a divine strategy at work that we must join. God is using miracles and signs to not only declare the presence of his rule on earth, he is connecting it with the teaching and ministry of the church. Perhaps many could stomach the thought of miracles if they strengthened this connection with teaching and ministry.
As if things aren’t murky enough then about what an Acts 2-ish church should be, Willow Creek found out that gathering Christians together for teaching, or in their words “participation,” does not always a growing disciple make. Check it out here.