Posted by: Brian Musser | June 4, 2018

Defining the Church

Often folks will use Acts 2:41 – 47 as a good description of what the church should be.

Acts 2:41-47 (NIV)  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  

New International Version (NIV)  Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In my two decades worth of ministry experience a specific group of Christian students involved with Disciples InDeed (DID) has been the closest I have ever seen to this passage being lived out.  Let me just list some of the ways they compared to the first church. DID held weekly Bible Studies that usually were spent reading and discussing specific passages. These Bible Studies were immediately followed by accountability groups and the accountability was real.  On a weekly basis students would dissect Scripture and each other’s lives for the purpose of building each other up. Then on Friday nights the student leaders would meet for several hours again studying Scripture around a specific issue in hopes to plan a monthly event that engaged their community with Gospel truth pertaining to a culturally relevant topic.  Often after spending hours meeting with each other the students would leave the meeting but continue to fellowship eating together or going to a movie or some other fun activity. These students did life together and the ministry of the DID just flowed out of that life together. But once a month after the Friday night meeting until the Saturday monthly event the students would fast and pray in preparation of publicly proclaiming the message of Christ on their campus.  

Now most of these individuals involved were African-American college students.  At times there were real needs among the community members. It is a stereotypical joke about the hungry college student.  But at times there are college students with significant financial issues. One term there was DID student who after tuition and housing had absolutely zero money available for food.  Because of the care of the group he did not spend a single dollar on food for the entire term. One person made sure they cooked enough for him on Tuesdays. Others took a different days.  When they would go out to eat the group would alternate who was responsible to pay for him. When there was an event on campus that was offering food as an incentive for attendance text messages were sent or food was saved.  Rides were provided to churches with food pantries or community meals. At other times food wasn’t the issue but housing was. There were designated couches that people could use. Some of them were occupied for months at a time.  The community leveraged what it had available to make sure the need was met. It was never an issue. It was life, life together.

Most students involved in DID claim it was an important part of them surviving the Drexel experience.  Most of them can easily point to how they came to know Christ for the first time or on a deeper level because of their time with DID.  None of them point to a specific individual or program that made the difference but to the group of students acting as the body of Christ in true community.  The community that was developed by this group of students was so winsome and powerful that the University respected and appreciated it. So many times we talk about how students need to be impacted by the Church.  I have had the experience of watching a group of students be the church in ways that most churches need to see.

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