“Man, we just need to go back and be like the Acts Church, man.”
I have heard that sentiment many times in my travels through Christianity. It’s a fine notion anytime people desire something better for the Church.
However, based on what most people think the Acts Church was like: even the Acts Church wasn’t like the Acts Church!
I think what most people mean by Acts Church is this:
*commonality of possessions, or at least minimal materialism
*miracles every couple minutes
*tremendous church growth
When one reads Acts, however, one will find a couple other details about the Acts Church most churches would rather not have:
*Spirit-filled leaders chased from town to town and nearly killed and some actually killed
*freaked out, terrorized followers
*people falling dead because they were dishonest about their shunning of materialism
*miracles occurred, but probably not as often as hoped
*believers had a regular fear of God
(I will also throw in a note about progressive revelation and the age of the apostles. The Apostle Paul said that “signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” were the signs of apostles. In other words, as the apostles died off, so too did the signs of apostles. So, if your primary point of having an Acts Church is to have signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, you must believe that there are still apostles today. Some people do. I would disagree based on how Scripture uses the word.)
There certainly did seem to be an excitement with the Acts Church, and I think that is the basic idea people long for. However, it appears that by about chapter 10 of Acts, most of the excitement was already gone, replaced by persecution and shipwrecks.
Never forget that the most messed up church of the New Testament was part of the Acts Church! Corinth is in Acts 18 and 19. If you long for the Acts Church and Corinth was one of them, you might want to refine your terms!
But understand, the Acts Church was already struggling even while Acts was being written! Messed up churches are no new phenomena, nor some sign of modernity. It’s what happens.
Anyway, I don’t mind people going to the Bible to define for them what should be taking place in the church. The general desire to have an Acts Church is fine, as long as it’s defined by Scripture and not just romantic notions of days of yon when more than likely if you attended an actual Acts Church back in Acts you wouldn’t have liked that one either.
One of the ironies of those who desire the Acts Church is that the pastors of said churches generally go about whipping people up with programs and ideas and plans and initiatives and meetings and councils and much other activity that smacks of busy work pretending to be spiritual.
It is interesting to me that when we get a definition of what Acts Church leaders did we get this: “we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
How many pastors today could define their job as mainly consisting of giving ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word? Very few.
I’ve met pastors who told me they have never read the whole Bible. Pastors who tell me they would never speak on certain passages. Pastors who tell me all that they do without ever mentioning prayer.
Can we have an Acts Church without Acts Pastors?