What a Leader Looks Like (part 1)

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:42-47)
Meeting together provided a loving home in which the three thousand converts on the Day of Pentecost could thrive. It is easy to assume that the “they” of verse 42 refers to the original hundred and twenty believers, but in its context it has to refer to the three thousand as well. Because they were true disciples, they didn’t need chasing and spoon-feeding and nappy-changing like a baby. Luke tells us that they devoted themselves to learning together, praying together, worshipping together, sharing together, fellowshipping together, laughing together and breaking bread together, in exactly the same manner as had characterised the hundred and twenty. They sold their possessions as gladly as the founder-members of the Church, and they had one heart and mind with their new brothers and sisters. The word which Luke uses is koinonia, which means oneness or fellowship or togetherness. They were genuine converts, which meant they didn’t need to be dragged to follow Jesus.

When Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 8:5 that his Macedonian converts “gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us,” we begin to understand that Luke is not merely describing the practices of a one-off group of Christians in Jerusalem. Every growing church has always been like this – from Antioch to Asia to Europe and to our own. Church leaders and Life Group leaders need to ensure that what they are leading is relevant and full of content, but they mustn’t wear themselves out trying to disciple those who are not disciples at all. Treating new converts like passive little babies is a sure-fire way to wear ourselves out and to stifle church growth. Calling new converts to “follow” by devoting themselves to their local church, however, is an equally sure-fire way to discover which ones are truly converted, and to help them grow into mature believers that God can build with.

Sadly, many churches have been built on chasing people, rather than on gathering people. We’ve done this ourselves as a church at times, and as a result we can feel tired and disappointed in our leadership of people. We have people in our church who would be happy to serve as great leaders if this were what leadership meant, so here’s the good news – it actually is! This is genuinely what the Lord is calling us to do. We have three waterholes as a church to which we invite thirsty people to come and drink. We have Life Groups (akin to the house-to-house meetings in Acts 2:46). We have Sunday services (akin to the meetings in the temple courts in Acts 2:46). We have other, everyday discipleship gatherings, such as our daily prayer meetings on Zoom or our Everyday Devotions on our app and on YouTube (akin to the every day of Acts 2:46). These are the ways in which we walk in the same wisdom today as the first Christians after the Day of Pentecost.

We invite people to come and drink freely from those three waterholes. If they choose not to, then we encourage them again to do so, but we don’t wear ourselves out chasing after people who do not want to live the life of Jesus. That’s how nets tear, how boats sink and how Christians drown under the weight of the Great Commission. Instead, we learn from Peter by calling people to these three waterholes and by devoting our lives to whoever is thirsty.
  1. Have you ever tried chasing somebody who didn’t really want to be part of your church Life Group? Could it be that part of the problem was that you were trying to disciple someone who didn’t truly want to be a disciple? 
  2. What have you learned today from Peter and the other believers in the first church in Jerusalem? How can you be wise in the way that you devote your life to going and making disciples?
  3. Who could you invite to drink at one or all of these three waterholes today? Ask the Lord to reveal to you who is thirsty, then invite them to drink deeply with you!
Father God, I thank you for the simplicity of the Early Church. They didn’t chase after unwilling non-disciples. They invited people to show that they were disciples by gathering often and drinking deeply. Please help me to make disciples in this same manner. Help me to find sustainable ways to make disciples without wearing myself out. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.

If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.

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