You have heard me say it before and you will hear me say it again,
the most successful local church of Christ of any time is
undoubtedly the Jerusalem church in Acts. Because of its success, I have personally made the Jerusalem
church my vision for our future. I hope that same vision is in
your hearts as well. Yet, at the same time I recognize some
possible dangers. That is, as we discuss the Jerusalem model, we
can easily gain the wrong impression about that church. Such being
the case, I want to take another look at Jerusalem and make sure
we understand what the Jerusalem vision is.
The Jerusalem vision is not of a mother church, but an
Many people read Acts
15:2 and see the Jerusalem church as a mother church,
thinking that Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to find out what
to teach. But, Paul learned the gospel of Christ by revelation and
was not taught by the Jerusalem church (Galatians
1:11ff). He and Barnabas went to Jerusalem because false
teachers had come from there (Acts
15:24) and they needed to find out whether the Jerusalem
church was teaching the truth or not.
But the Jerusalem church was an example for worship and
work. Our vision for the Franklin church must never be to become a
mother church. We are not to oversee the work of other churches.
But, we can be an example. We can blaze the trail for other
churches to follow our example. But our example will only be
worthy of following if we follow the Bible example.
The Jerusalem vision is not having 10,000 members, but
having constant and unlimited growth.
Many people are satisfied with small churches. I like to
point out how large the Jerusalem church was. There were 3000 in Acts
2:41. There were 5000 men in Acts
4:4. The women could bring the count near to 10,000. The
problem is, some people walk away believing that the Jerusalem
vision is having 10,000 members. That is not the case.
The Jerusalem vision is about constant and unlimited
growth. The Jerusalem vision is not allowing barriers to stop our
growth. We do not allow our building, work habits, leadership
styles, relationships or any thing else to close the doors of
Christ’s church. Additionally, the Jerusalem vision is working
in such a way as to close the cracks so we do not lose members.
The Jerusalem vision is one of constantly converting, grounding
and keeping people.
The Jerusalem vision is not getting enough hired hands to
work, but having all hands working.
I am vocal that congregations need more fulltime workers.
Jerusalem had 12 in the apostles and Antioch had 5 (Acts
13:1). Having said this, some may get the wrong impression
about the Jerusalem vision, thinking that it is about hiring the
church’s work out to professionals.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Jerusalem
vision is not about getting hired hands to do the work, but about
having all hands working. The Jerusalem vision is realizing that
as the church grows larger, there is more work needed. The
Jerusalem vision is about getting everyone teaching (Acts
8:4) and ministering to one another (Acts
2:44-47). The Jerusalem vision is realizing that no one
does everything, but everyone does something and thus everything
The Jerusalem vision is not having 12 evangelists, but
getting the workers that are needed.
When we see the work needed to make a church successful, we
begin to realize that, while all hands are working, we need more
fulltime workers to be equippers and trainers in the gospel. This
fits with the example set in Ephesians
4:11-12. We see examples of their work when the apostles
described their duties in Acts
6:4. We see it when the five men in Antioch are called
teachers in Acts
13:1. We also see it when Paul says he taught publicly and
from house to house in Ephesus recorded in Acts
20:20. Hearing this, some people may think the Jerusalem
vision is to have 12 evangelists.
But that is not the vision. The vision is about getting the
workers we need to accomplish the work we ought to be doing.
Folks, let’s face it. Our society has changed over the past
fifty years. The work that can be accomplished by an evangelist, a
handful of elders and few volunteers has diminished. More women
are working. Men are working more hours. Families are involved in
more extra-curriculars. There is simply less volunteer time. Yes,
everyone of us must work in the church. But, as the pace of our
society has increased, so has our need for fulltime workers to
train and equip workers and organize and implement the work. We
need to be like Barnabas in Acts
11:23-26. He had the Jerusalem vision as he worked in
Antioch. He saw that a worker was needed and he went and got the
right man for the job. We need to do the same.
The Jerusalem vision is not becoming a huge corporation,
but becoming a closer-knit family.
We have learned that no one person or small group can do
everything. There has to be a delegation and distribution of labor
throughout the congregation (Acts
6:1-6). However, in pointing that out, some miss the
Jerusalem vision. They hear this and envision people becoming more
separated as they focus on individual assignments in a cold
That is not the Jerusalem vision. Read Acts
2:41-47 and 4:32-37 —does that sound like a cold
corporation to you? The Jerusalem vision is about drawing closer
to the brethren to whom we can. The vision is about finding
“family” in circles smaller than the entire congregation. The
vision is about allowing relationships to be flexible so that we
do not develop cliques. When each of us is following this vision,
pouring our strength, encouragement and comfort into our circles
of contact, then everyone will be cared for. We may not be best
friends with everybody, but everybody will have best friends. In
this vision, fewer people fall through the cracks.
The Jerusalem vision is not Communism, but sacrificing to
make the church successful.
Many people read Acts
4:34-37 and completely misunderstand the Jerusalem vision.
They read this passage and think they see Communism. But that is
not the vision at all. In the early church, people owned their own
property and were in control of their own finances (Acts
The Jerusalem vision is every member sacrificing to make
the church successful. The Jerusalem vision is not only about
giving money, however, but also giving time and talent. You can do
many things with your time, but you need to make sure you allot
time for the Lord’s work. You can use your talents in many
areas, but you must prioritize using your abilities to serve your
brethren and glorify God (I
Peter 4:10-11). This church’s victory depends on the
willingness of each member to give freely and sacrificially of
their time, treasure and talent. What sacrifices have you made?
What sacrifices do you need to make?
The Jerusalem vision is not being problem free, but being
committed to overcoming problems.
Because we talk so much about the Jerusalem church’s
success, some see the Jerusalem vision as being problem free. But
the Jerusalem church had problems. In Acts
3, there was the persecution problem. In Acts
5, there was the hypocritical members problem. In Acts
6, there was the partiality problem. In Acts
15, there was the circumcision problem.
The Jerusalem vision is one of a church whose members are
committed to overcoming problems. In each case mentioned above,
the church overcame and grew stronger for. Of course, they had no
other place to go. We have numerous congregations in Middle
Tennessee. Today, Christians get their feelings hurt or see
something they don’t like and their first response is often,
“I will just change churches.” If a problem is unresolvable,
there may be a time when a Christian has to make the painful
decision to leave a congregation. But it should be a painful
decision, not a vengeful or manipulative one. Additionally, the commitment to overcoming problems is more
than staying at one congregation. The commitment is to be a part
of the solution. Sometimes that means letting your way slide.
Sometimes that means compromise. Sometimes that means having to
talk to a brother or sister, even when you don’t want to.
Whatever it entails for any particular circumstance, the Jerusalem
vision is one of a church whose members are devoted to overcoming
This is where I see us going and we will be an example of
what it means to follow the Biblical pattern. Our vision may be
based on the Jerusalem church, but our vision is not about the
past. Our vision is of the future. And God, working through us,
will accomplish more than we ask or think (Ephesians
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ