Acts Chapter 2:41-47 describes the glorious initial days of the Church, when 3000 were saved in response to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Interestingly enough, although the chapter concludes with a description of how people were being saved daily, not much is said at all about “evangelistic method” or efforts. There is surely a lesson for many of our contemporary American churches here:
Rather than describing certain “special evangelistic methods”, this section of scripture is dominated by a description of the fellowship of the early church: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer … and all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common … day by day continuing with one mind in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart …”. THEN the chapter closes with those famous words, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Evidently, a significant part of the evangelistic success of the early church was due to the deep and appealing nature of the fellowship they had with each other. The people around them observed the love they had for each other, and wanted to be a part of it. This shouldn’t be a surprise: hadn’t Jesus said, “By this all men shall know that you are My disciples, if you love another?” (John 13:35)
Therefore it should also not be surprising to us that when our churches are marked by selfish conflict, the opposite is true: no one wants to be a part of them. These verses should be a cause for soul-searching and prayer in churches in America today: is the love and fellowship we have for each other in our church so appealing that people are attracted to join us? If not, why not? And what do we need to do about it?