They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).
With the psalmist we delight in the Word, but the Word has to get from our heads into our hearts. We can fill our heads with the best teaching in Christendom and still live in darkness.
The early church understood that. It emphasized four activities, listed in Acts 2:42: the apostle’s teaching, prayer, fellowship, and the breaking of bread.
When we pray together, fellowship together, and eat together, we move beyond filling our minds and begin to exercise what we know. In fact, we can’t exercise the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and goodness — until we have an arena for such exercise. We can’t love and show kindness until we surround ourselves with those who need our love and kindness.
So on Sundays and during the week, FBF builds into its schedule times not just for sound teaching but for prayer, fellowship, and shared meals. We want to help one another live the truth, not just soak our minds with it. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Many churches have three teaching sessions in one day: Sunday School, morning worship service, and evening worship service. But often prayer time is quite short by comparison, fellowship time hit-or-miss, and the chance to break bread together sporadic at best. We encourage our members to truly live together as Christ’s body, to move beyond superficial or exclusive friendship to servanthood, not only in the church but also in the community.
We can’t grab believers by the collar and make them pursue such a life of intensity, but we can help them grow in that direction by structuring our Sundays and meetings throughout the week with all four of the activities practiced in the early church: teaching, fellowship, shared meals, and prayer.
When you attend a service at FBF, you’ll know without a doubt that we take God’s Word seriously.
Our worship hymns and songs are generally based on scripture, followed by several scripture readings introducing the sermon. The sermon itself, whether expository or thematic, is based squarely on the Word, bringing to life the wonder of what God wants to tell us.
We also have Bible studies during the week with more time for in-depth probing.
Because salvation and discipleship depend on the authority of God’s Word, we make biblical teaching the basis for all we do. We encourage honest and open inquiry into the Scriptures to discover how they can enrich our daily living.
2 Timothy 3:16–17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When planning a new building for Pixar movie studios, Steve Jobs insisted the whole organization be housed together, unlike most studios that separate by division. Jobs designed a central atrium that forced people to run into other people they wouldn’t ordinarily see. That’s what sparks creativity, he said — random conversations that give us new perspectives and new delights.
That’s doubly true for believers! We’re wired that way naturally and wired that way again supernaturally when we enter into the life of Christ. We can’t be lone rangers. The body of Christ is about living and working together.
At FBF we offer a fellowship meal every week. Some just enjoy the food but most make a diligent effort to catch up with others and offer encouragement and tangible help when needed.
Then we clear the tables and have a share and prayer time. Topics range from casual to life threatening, and we laugh or cry together accordingly. Sometimes we lay hands on people in great need. Often we hear how others are reaching out during the week. By getting a sense of how the Spirit works in the lives of others we learn how he can work in our own lives.
Sometimes sharing time looks a bit like a dinner party, sometimes like a conventional prayer meeting, but at its best it fosters a deep sense of our mutual life in Christ. We’re in this together, and we need each other to persevere to the end.
Breaking of Bread
While many churches interpret the breaking of bread as the communion service, we believe the common meal shared by early believers was critical in and of itself.
By eating together we demonstrate our commonality with one another and our equality before God. The apostle Paul discussed at length the struggles the Corinthians faced in this area. Eating together is a wonderful test of whether we really believe what we say we believe.
So we learn to help the young mother struggling with her infant and exercise grace with the young teen hoarding desserts. We look out for those on special diets and willingly give up our portions when something runs short.
Teams take turns preparing our fellowship meal, itself a venture in cooperation. Families get together, exchange recipes, and delight in blessing others with tasty delights. The young people take a turn as do the men.
Throughout the scriptures, stories abound of God’s people eating together. We like to think we’re part of that steady stream heading toward the marriage feast of the Lamb!
Sometimes newcomers attend one of our prayer meetings and find to their surprise that we pray the entire time. We don’t tack 15 minutes of prayer onto the end of a devotional but make it our focus, the hard but delightful work of waiting on God and beseeching him with fervent intensity.
We also build much prayer into our Sunday gatherings. Before the sermon we have several minutes of quiet time to allow worshipers to prepare their hearts to hear God’s Word. After the sermon we have a response time with quiet singing and congregational prayer during which worshipers can seal in their hearts the truths they have heard.
Then after our brunch and sharing time we spend several minutes in prayer giving thanks and voicing new requests.
In prayer, we can check off the items on the list and move on, feeling we’ve done our job. But if we’re really going to enter into the struggles and joys of others we must probe deeper.
The museum visitor who lingers at the exhibits, soaking in the displays, will come away with a much deeper appreciation than the hurried tourist. So too in our prayer meetings we linger on one situation at a time, trying to discern through the Spirit and others what the person in need must be thinking and feeling. Such prayer makes us more sensitive and better equipped to offer encouragement and concrete help.