Discussions on the Early Church often annoy me. They are highly romanticized.
Frequently I’m told that Jesus employed brilliant business strategy by having 12 disciples and an inner circle of three. These men then went out and made other disciples to carry on the message.
This all sounds fantastic and since it is so fantastic, all our churches should do the same. Pastors should get a small group of people, get real friendly with three, teach others who will have their own groups etc.
The problem with this model is that it completely undermines two BIG things:
1) Attributing the success of the Early Church to brilliant marketing completely ignores the Holy Spirit’s work. The “success” of the Early Church is the Spirit’s work and nothing else. You can have as many groups and inner groups and even inner, inner groups, but if you don’t have the Spirit, you aint gonna do nothing of eternal value.
2) Thinking that doctrine was passed down from the higher-ups to their inner group undermines this thing called Scripture. God wrote stuff down so we didn’t need a group to interpret for us. Look how swimmingly the Catholic Church used this thinking in the Dark Ages.
Furthermore, to say that the Early Church was “succesful” is a stretch. I recently read “The Apostle Paul was indisputably Jesus’ most brilliant student in disciple making.”
Allow Scripture to argue. From the Apostle “Best Disciple Maker” Paul:
“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.”
“For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”
Never mind, I disagree with myself now. I guess Paul was a disciple maker like Jesus–they were each left alone.
The Church is the work of God, not man. Stop giving men credit for it, it’s not really worth bragging about. It’s the foolishness of the world.