Pastor Michael Nirva - Senior Pastor - Trinity Lutheran Church
The Marks Of A Strong Church
(Acts 2:42) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Towards the end of Acts 2, we read in verse 42 of the first church, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine and to the fellowship, and to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” In the last part of verse 47, St. Luke writes, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” In these verses we are alerted to the marks of a strong church.
The first mark of a strong church is that it applies itself to the study of the apostles’ doctrine. The apostles entrusted what the Lord Jesus had entrusted to them. To continue in their doctrine means to search out what it is saying to us and what it is asking of us. That calls for study of God’s inerrant Word, both in group study provided by the church, and in individual study in our homes.
The second mark of the church is the fellowship that exists between the members of the church. We are told that the members of the first church really responded to the needs of the members of the church as these surfaced. The fellowship was their fellow Christians rather than those who opposed the church and its work.
The third mark of a strong church is its involvement in worship, for that is what is meant by “breaking of the bread, and to prayer.” Being a Christian does call for involvement in worship, not just in individual homes, but also in the services held in the church building. There is participation in the sacramental life and in the prayer life of the church.
The fourth mark of a strong church is that under the blessing of God it reaches out with the message of the Gospel. This might be called the evangelism activity of the church. It is God who adds the members to the church, but He uses the witness of the church members as the method for adding members to the church.
Luke’s description of a strong church reminds us that we ought not to concentrate our efforts only on one mark, but that we ought to stress all of these marks in our concert. This is God’s way of making known to us what a strong church really does.
Are We Strong?
Is our congregation “a strong church?” This is a question that each one of us will need to answer for him or herself. The more important part of the matter is that each one of us personally should do all he is able to make our congregation a truly strong church, one that is strong in the eyes of our God. May God grant that our church really be “a strong church.”