They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts… (Acts 2.42-46)
…Except for James, the brother of Jesus. He wanted to “do church” differently. And so he started a fresh expression in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. He preferred to “sing a new song” not to just the old Psalms. His venture was a great success, although it mainly attracted disenchanted Christians.
And then there was Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary. She grew disillusioned with “organised religion.” It began with a disagreement about cleaning the church fridge. She soon began trying different house churches; she even tried James’ fresh expression. But eventually she drifted away. She still believed but said, “I don’t need to ‘go to church’ to follow Jesus, I can read my bible and pray anywhere.”
Then there was Andrew and his family. He was an elder, but they were just worn out at the end of the week. And church was becoming difficult because of their older son’s behavioural issues. After Mary started back at work, combined with the need to visit granny at the weekend, it became unrealistic for them to get to the regular gathering.
And lastly there’s me, Luke. After Paul sent me to complete postgrad studies, I found my faith becoming dry. When reading the Torah, I was bugged by critical questions of sources and authorship. And there was James’ constant nagging about the need for a more missional approach. So, between us, I grew less passionate. Eventually I only went to church if I was preaching.