It has become popular in recent years to establish programs within the church that attempt to emulate what is believed to have occurred in the church of the first century. To that effect we now have churches that concentrate on Cell Groups, Home Worship, and any number of other programs that are believed to be reflected in the Bible’s accounts of the early church. What is not often realized is that the early church was not successful as a result of the programs that it implemented but that it was successful because of the faith it had in the God that it worshipped. The programs that are found in the book of Acts are not necessarily programs that were set up because of their efficiency but because of their necessity. First century Christians, in the general sense, may not have had buildings set aside for regular worship and were not always permitted access to the Temple in Jerusalem or the more widely scattered synagogues due to their ever increasing distance from these institutions, to the antagonism of the Jews toward Christianity, and even the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the armies of Rome. By necessity the early Christians would have gathered in each other’s homes, in public forums, and even in open areas beyond city borders. Groups that met in homes could frequently have been restricted in size by the size of the home itself so small groups may have gathered in homes throughout the areas where Christians were numerous. It must be remembered as well that in the first century many towns and cities may not have had more than one Church (body of believers) and that all Christians generally considered themselves members of the world wide Church and, more specifically, members of the Church in their region.


What the early Christians were good at was evangelism. Their success at bringing in converts was more a result of the blessing of God falling upon committed believers who devoted themselves to the distribution of the Gospel than it was due to any specific programs. The men and women of whom we primarily read in the book of Acts were men and women who were committed to telling others of the God who had saved them from death and who were in turn willing to die while serving that God.


The answer today to the lack of growth in many churches (world wide, denominational, as well as local gatherings of Christians) is not because the programs being used are of poor quality (though there is often room for improvement in that area as well) but because Christians today are less willing to die for their faith than the Christians of the first century. We are today tied too closely to the pleasures of the world to be willing to forsake these pleasures in the service of our King. If churches today have such difficulty even encouraging believers to be faithful in their tithing consider by extension what the commitment of these same believers would be to suffer on behalf of the Gospel as many of the early Christians suffered. What is more necessary today than programs is Christians who are excited about God as the early Christians were; Christians in whose company God was not ashamed to show His power; Christians who were committed to God regardless of the cost.