Restoring the Acts 2 church

Published 9:16 pm Friday, January 10, 2014

Norman Vincent Peale gave the church the power of positive thinking. Then Charles Schuller expanded that into possibility thinking. Rick Warren came along telling us we needed purpose, while Bill Hybels told us worship services should be for unbelievers.

Now, “Emergent Church” leaders regurgitate sentiments from the 1960s along the lines of “tune in, turn on, and drop out,” clothed in spiritual language and post-modern Christian thought.

The modern era is wrought with churches loaded with extra non-biblical junk that wasn’t present at Pentecost. Most of it prevents us from having the power they had in the early church. Our clutter muzzles and muffles our voice.

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I’ve said for a long time that the church needs to strip away the extras and get back to the power that was present at her inception. It was simplicity, not convoluted excellence that gave the early church power.

They weren’t seeker-sensitive. They actually genuinely seemed to have loved people. They weren’t using marketing strategies. Their love for Christ was infectious.

I recently read Jim Wall’s book “Unmuted: Restoring Your Church’s Voice.” It is his passion to unclutter the church. Wall has recently transitioned from leadership in the church he founded to dedicate himself full time to restoring the church as it is found in the Bible in Acts chapter 2 through a movement he started called “The Acts 2 Network.”

In the book he asks, “What would it take to become the Church that Jesus called us to be…. What would it take to bring hope to so many whose hopelessness showed up in their divorce rates, suicide rates, bankruptcy rates, and addictions?”

In America we’ve managed to build crowds with attractive services and marketing strategies, but where is the power to transform individual lives and this bankrupt culture?

He goes on to assert a simple formula straight from the Bible that has worked to build one of the fastest growing and dynamic churches in our region.

The early church was so much simpler than most churches today. They had a God-given vision, were empowered by the Holy Spirit, preached truth simply, were hungry to know God, actually loved one another and unselfishly loved people around them.

That’s it. They loved God, one another and the people around them. There is no historical or biblical data to suggest they out-politicked the society to get “God’s candidate” in office. They surely didn’t build the most impressive buildings.

In fact, history tells us it was the exact opposite. A growing group of disenfranchised folks changed the world in Jesus’ name.

I’m recommending the book, but I’m also recommending its message. If you are a follower of Jesus, what is your walk with Jesus like today? Is it simple obedience? Is it daily commitment and trust? Or is it filled with a lot of cumbersome extras and unnecessary baggage?

We need to get back to Acts 2.

“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NLT)

Church, if we want power that matters, we’ve got to unclutter. That’s the only way to get unmuted.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at