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Jan 19, 2014

Taking Stock

Taking Stock

Passage: Acts 2:32-47

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Special

Category: Life Together

Keywords: church, history, fellowship, bible, worship, service, word, prayer


This message looks at some of the dynamic power operating in the Early Christian Church, the state of church today and specifically what God is doing in these five areas of life and ministry at Mosaic Fellowship currently.


Taking Stock

Acts 2:32-47

January 19, 2014


Every now and then it’s a good idea to “take stock” of things. If you’re a student, it helps to “take stock” of where you are in your training, what classes and professors you really enjoyed and benefited from and what you still need to take to finish your degree. If you don’t look back and look forward, you may spend a lot of extra time and money getting that degree…and you may end up with a degree that really doesn’t take you where you want to go.

            If you are in business, you know that must periodically “take stock” of everything from management to employees, inventory to accounts receivables. Failing to “take stock” in a business will usually spell disaster and bankruptcy.

            If you’re married or a parent, it will benefit your spouse and children if you periodically “take stock” of how your relationship is with said spouse and kids, what can be improved and what you need to do to improve it.


That’s really what the biblical “Sabbath” was intended to be—a weekly time when you could pull back from the rat race of life, look back over how you spent the week, what happened in it, and what you learned from it and then take some time to talk it over with God and others as well as make any “course corrections” that might be needed as you head into a new week. That is a really beneficial weekly discipline to engage in…or so I’ve been told. J


Well, today we’re going to be “taking stock” of our life in Christ and particularly our life together in Christ as it relates to God’s family, the church. When I use that term “the church” I’m not just thinking of what happens here at Mosaic. For many of us, the majority of what we experience of “church” may happen with others who are involved with Mosaic. It may happen here on a Sunday morning when you come for fellowship, worship and teaching OR it may happen in your small group OR it may happen as you have a coffee with a brother or sister here. Your experience of “church” might include helping the youth or children…or cleaning the building mid-week …or serving at another ministry in town.   For most of us, what we share here at Mosaic isn’t the sum total of our “church experience” but it probably is a big chunk of it.  

            For most of today’s time together I would like us to “take stock” of our life together here at Mosaic. At the same time I hope to help us take stock of some areas of our own personal lives that actually impact what we experience of God, of His heart for people and of life together.

So here’s what I would like you to do first off this morning. We’ve got a section of the art gallery here that is sort of becoming a live-posting wall. (In December we started using it on First Fridays for a good discussion starter about Christmas traditions.) Today and the remainder of this month we’d like to invite you to write down some blessing you experienced in the last 12 months through being part of God’s family, the church. It may have happened at or through Mosaic or it may have been a blessing that came to you through the larger city-church in Spokane, the Body of Christ in our region.

            I know that “church” is getting a lot of bad press these days. But for better or worse, the church is our spiritual family. And I would hope that something about being part of that family has been good for you this past year.

            So here’s how I would like us to prime the pump today. Find 1 or at most 2 other people here today (and don’t let anybody be alone or left out here today), and share with each other just 1 thing that was a blessing to you through God’s family last year. Then traipse over to the art panel there and either write your own down or appoint one of you a scribe to write the different things down for each of you. Take about 3 minutes. GO!


God has been very gracious to us this past year here at Mosaic. I’ll be sharing some of the specific things as we go along this morning. I’d like to ask you to think of today as a sort of once-a-year “family meeting.” If you’re joining us for the first time today, let me tell you that very little about this morning will be like a normal Sunday morning at Mosaic. So, my apologies, but you’ll have to come and join us again another Sunday to see the normal flow of this part of our spiritual family life.


Let me set the stage for the reality we’re in today in church life. In case you haven’t heard, the “church” in America has fallen on hard times. Fewer people of all age groups are plugging into church than at any time in recent history.

  • 80% of Spokanites won’t be having a “church experience” today, however you define “church.”

If we narrow our focus to the next generation, it gets worse.

  • In fact, nationwide only 1 in 5 (20%) of millenials (18-29 years old) say going to church is important to them.
  • Over half (52%) haven’t been to church in the past 6 months.
  • 1 in 3 (32%) are so bold as to say they don’t think church is important “at all.”


But here is the good news about the millennial generation.

  • When those who DO participate in church were asked why they do so, over half (54%) said “to be closer to God.”
  • Another 1 in 3 (32%) say they “want to learn more about God.”
  • And the third major reason is that “The church is God’s hands and feet in the world” (16%).

In other words, millenials really want to encounter God in both head and heartand they want to go out into the world and make a difference with that knowledge and experience of God. That sounds an awful lot like what the New Testament says God’s people should be experiencing, doesn’t it?


Now, I’ll be the first to say that there are millions of possible ways to “do church” or, more theologically accurate, BE the church. God doesn’t give a lot of commands in the Bible about how churches are to be structured, whether they are to have paid staff or not, how ministry is to be carried out or even exactly all the ministries we can or should be involved in. When it comes to God’s people experiencing the life of God in the family of God, the history of the church has been one of stunning diversity, fresh beginnings and Spirit-led movements. It’s also had more than enough failures, unnecessary battles and cardiac arrests.

            But I also think that what God recorded in the New Testament about how the first century church lived and died has a lot to tell us about what bears fruit when it comes to experiencing a dynamic, living, transformational church.  


So turn to Acts 2 to give us a N.T. point of reference today. Last week, Steve took us to Jesus’ last command before he ascended into heaven in Acts 1. Jesus commanded his followers, apparently about 120 at the time, to stay in Jerusalem until they had received, as Jesus said, “the gift my Father promised” (1:4). That gift was, of course, being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus went on to say that once they had received the Holy Spirit and his accompanying power, they were to then BE His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8).

            So when we get to Acts 2, they’ve been waiting and praying in this “upper room” for about 10 days. That’s a LONG prayer meeting! Anyone ever spent 10 days praying with other people? Who knows. Maybe they started with 500 and now the group was down to 120. But I think it’s pretty safe to say that these 120 were “all in” when it came to waiting for what God had promised.

            Chapter 2, vs. 4, tells us that when the Holy Spirit came on them or “filled” them, they started “declaring the wonders of God” (vs. 11) in a bunch of foreign languages they didn’t necessarily know but which a whole lot of people visiting in Jerusalem at the time did know. The result was that some 3,000 people who heard from the mouths of these 120 what God was doing and heard Peter’s convicting message about Jesus Christ, decided to become Christ-followers that day. Pretty impressive start to the church, don’t you think?

            Now you have to remember that Jesus had just been crucified in a very public way 50 days earlier. His brutal crucifixion wasn’t a little thing that happened in the corner somewhere and wasn’t known by many people. His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem just the week before had set the city on fire with speculation. And then a week later, the whole place knew how that ended…or so they thought.

            So here are 3,000 people willing to throw their lot in with someone their national leaders and the governing Romans had murdered just 7 weeks earlier. God was obviously doing something very miraculous.

            If you go to the end of chapter 2, that apparently explosive growth of the church continued on for some time. Those first Spirit-filled Christ-followers jumped into a lifestyle, not a spectator sport. Peter hadn’t asked them to “pray the sinners prayer.” In fact, he had called them to two responses: belief in Jesus and baptism in public in His name.

            These new Christ-followers obviously didn’t think that was the sum total of what it meant to follow Jesus. We have no mention that they started going to church just once a week.

(Which, by the way, is FAR more than what the survey cited just a moment ago used as a measurement of a millennials who was still involved in church. They counted “church-going” millenials as anyone who 1.) simply said their religious faith was “very important” to them, and 2.) showed up at church at least once a month!)

            This new “Jerusalem church” just spontaneously, led of the Holy Spirit, did what Acts 2:42-47 says they did. Follow along in your Bibles. This is how the New American Standard Bible puts it.

42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.


So let’s ask the question, “What was this vibrant, growing early church doing that millenials today might say was helping them experience God both intellectually and from the heart?

Here’s the list I got from these verses.

  1. Vs. 42--Devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Remember, there was no N.T. So this church was being taught about everything from salvation in Jesus to how to live as a church. And it wasn’t just lectures the apostles were giving. They were calling God’s people to think rightly as well as live righteously. But spiritual, apostolic, Christ-centered teaching by the apostles was how it was happening.
  2. Vs. 42--Devoting themselves to…fellowship. What your definition of “fellowship” is will probably make a big difference here. In many churches today, fellowship is the sum total of what happens when you have a cup of coffee in one hand and a donut in the other somewhere before or after a church event in which you sit quietly in your seat, pretend to listen to some teacher up front and shake a few hands as you go out the door. Without making this a lesson in fellowship, let me give you a very brief working definition. Fellowship means to share with someone in something. Fellowship involves some giving and some receiving. Our term “friendship” could probably be considered fellowship. Fellowship in the N.T. involved a relationship with Jesus Christ that spilled over into shared feelings, shared experiences, shared affections and shared help between Christ-followers. That’s a lot bigger than coffee and donuts!
  3. Vs 42--Devoting themselves to the breaking of bread. This term can mean one of two things. We’re frankly not sure which. I’m voting for both. 1.) It could be talking about God’s people sharing meals together. Or, 2.) it could be a specific reference to the Lord’s Table, Communion. Since the early church seemed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper at a real meal deal, I’m voting for both!
  4. Vs 42--Devoting themselves to prayer. We all know something about prayer. It’s that two-way communication device that doesn’t come with monthly charges, doesn’t need a data plan, doesn’t stop working when you drop it in the toilet, etc. It’s what happens when we talk…and listen to…God. It can be done in private or public, by yourself or with thousands of other people. It’s very flexible!
  5. Vs. 43--They kept feeling a sense of awe. This term has to do with how God’s people were feeling because of what they were experiencing about God. Luke uses this same term here in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 5, when he talks about the miracle Jesus did in forgiving the sins and healing the paralytic who was let down through the hole his friends chiseled in the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching. Luke says that the people who saw the miracle were amazed, glorified God and were filled with “awe.”

I think that this is more of a reaction to the work of God among the early church. You can’t plan or script or engineer a church experience that leaves everyone in that mental/emotional state of awe…unless maybe you bring in the Circ de Sol troupe. And then it won’t be a sense of awe with God. But in this passage, God was evidently doing things with them, so much so that the church was left feeling awe at what God was up to. I think that could have included a wide variety of experiences with God. But lots of people in the church were having an awe-filled (not awful) experience.

I think this is what that survey I started out talking about is referring to when it says that 3/4s of millenials who are sticking with church are doing so because they are experiencing God in that setting.

  1. Vs. 43--They kept seeing “wonders and signs” through the apostles. This may well have been part of the “awe.” It undoubtedly included healings, setting people free from demonic oppression and sin. For those who were open to it, God was showing that He was on the move.
  2. Vss. 44-46--They hung together. We don’t know exactly how much they were “together”. It appears that it may have been together on an almost daily basis. Their newfound intimacy with God produced an automatic longing to be together. So they spent time together in each other’s homes, in the Temple, in worship, in prayer, probably in a whole bunch of different settings.
  3. Vs. 45--They shared what they had with those who were in need. Clearly this is talking about those who were experiencing basic needs like food and possibly clothing. There was a God-like compassion that God’s people wanted to engage in. Nothing was forced or required. But it was so deep that some people were willing to even sell their hard assets like land and personal possessions. I think this is the first mention of garage sales in the Bible. J It is good to keep in mind that in our spiritual family, most of us will experience both sides of this equation at one time or another. Sometime we’ll probably be on the receiving end. Hopefully we’ll be able to be on the giving end more often than not. Everyone has something to give at some time…and everyone needs to be given to at some time.
  4. Vss. 46-47--They were daily uniting at places of worship, prayer and instruction. According to vs. 46, we know this was happening in the Jerusalem Temple. Even though there were thousands of people around them who continued to worship God in the Jewish way of sacrifices and prayers, since this church of thousands didn’t have any large place to meet, they got together in the temple courts. Some of the Apostles’ teaching happened there. We know they went there to pray at certain times of the day (Acts 3:1). We know that they shared the Gospel message of Christ there (because they were arrested and commanded not to talk about Jesus any more, Acts 3-4). But by then the church was up to about 5,000 men (families?). Chapter 4:31 tells us that there must have been some other meeting places or large homes because when they got thrown out of the Temple they went someplace where they could have another prayer meeting and asked God for more boldness. God answered by filling them with the Holy Spirit again.  
  5. Vs. 46--They daily shared meals together in their homes with joy. Vs. 46 tells us God’s people enjoyed hanging out with each other. They spent time in each other’s homes. They ate each other’s food. They probably played with each other’s kids, did each other’s dishes, and had meaningful conversations about their newfound Savior, about life in Him, about God and life and a host of truly important things. And Luke takes the time to tell us that it all happened in a really happy atmosphere—lots of gladness, praise to God and openness of hearts to each other.

I wonder, if we kept track, what percentage of our meals each month are “shared” with believers? And how much of our conversation has to do with what God is doing with us? There’s a challenge!

  1. Vs. 47--They had good and favorable relationships with people around them. And God used those friendships to keep leading people to Jesus and His church. If you came to follow Jesus in your youth or adult years, you probably remember wanting to tell everyone about it. Can you imagine a church with 5,000 + families where everyone experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit at belief in Jesus? Can you imagine what it must have been like to be a non-believing Jew in Jerusalem where you couldn’t shut these new believers up? The problem that many of us have as we spend more years in the family of God is that we drift away from relationships with people without Jesus. But that’s not the case when you are a new believer.


So let me boil these 11 things down into about 5 critical spiritual growth areas for the Jerusalem church and probably any church or Christ-follower.Here they are.

  1. Growing in the Word/Truth of God—temple-time/house-church time/(private)
  2. Growing in Prayer—temple time/house-church time/private
  3. Growing in Worship—sense of awe/connection with God, praise, thanksgiving, temple-time, Lord’s Supper
  4. Growing in Fellowship—shared meals, time, goods, worship
  5. Growing in Ministry to others—shared needs/provisions, shared the gospel, developed favor with seekers & sojourners, brought enough of the power and presence of Christ to do signs & wonders/miracles among people wondering about Christ.


So let’s do a little “taking stock” right now. Take out your bulletin insert. It has 4 sections on it. Section 1 asks you to do a little mental inventory, some stock-checking, on your experience in these 5 areas at Mosaic this past year. This is subjective but your staff and leaders are genuinely interested in what your experience has been and how we can better grow together in these 5 important growth areas this year. So let me briefly review with you the opportunities we had to experience this at Mosaic this past year.


1.)    Growing in the Word of God: Sunday sermons, Monday night Conduit groups, Thursday Theology night, home Bible study groups various days and nights of the week, Women’s Bible study groups on Tuesdays. Did I miss some?

2.)    Growing in Prayer: again Sunday morning prayer we do together in our worship time, Sunday before service prayer for the service, asking for prayer at a service or using the on-line prayer request tool, putting down a prayer request on the tear-off section of the weekly bulletin, posting a prayer need and/or answer on the bulletin boards next to The Grid, Thursday we have Men’s prayer group @ 6:30a.m.

3.)    Growing in Worship: have you experienced a sense of God’s presence this year? Has Mosaic and our worship and Communion times helped you develop a spirit of praise and gratitude? Have we seen any miracles as we’ve walked this journey together this year? [Helen C., Daniel to med school, Omaya, healings?, marriages restored [call I got this week from someone praying and talking with an ex-spouse after 8 years of divorce!], Larry Johnson’s son-in-law’s conversion, etc???

4.)    Growing in Fellowship: been sharing meals together (like Matt & Staci’s Tues night dinners)? What God is doing in and around you with others? Are some of our opening questions on a Sunday morning helping fellowship? Praying for each other on Sunday mornings? Love Feast Breakfasts quarterly. Practicing hospitality in your home and enjoying it in others? Having meaningful conversations that move you spiritually? Meeting regularly in a home group, fellowship group, recovery group, Bible study, etc. Men’s and Women’s Connection? College & Young Adults Friday nights? Ministry team together?

5.)    Growing in Ministry to Others: have you served at Cup of Cool Water or City Gate? Part of a ministry team like worship or cleaning or Children’s Ministry? Participate in the Christmas gift and invitation handout in the neighborhood? Made gift baskets for the Eleanor Chase House. Prayer walking with us some Friday? Skyping Mark Massingale in Cambodia and prayed with him? Developed redemptive relationships with friends or neighbors, coworkers or classmates that you are praying about? Helped out with First Friday C.A.M. or simply invited an unchurched friend to join you?

Finally, many of us have probably given financially to someone in need OR the ministry here at Mosaic?


[Explain Mosaic’s finances—2013 and 2014 budget.]


O.K. Tell us where you think we are as a church in those 5 areas. (Read the scale 1-5 descriptions and give a minute to complete.)


Now, since we’re “taking stock,” let me talk very briefly about what we see on the horizon for 2014in each of these areas.

  1. Growing in the Word/Truth of God
  2. continued solid teaching of the Word on Sundays,
  3. adding a First Steps class at the 9:15 time,
  4. doubling the number of home groups/Bible studies/DBSs,
  5. continuing Thursday Theology with Matt & Staci as well as
  6. Conduit on Monday nights,
  7. Tuesday night 12-step and recovery groups.
  8. Growing in Prayer
  9. 40 Days of Prayer from April 30-June 8 with daily prayer journals, weekly mid-week prayer service, one 24-hour day of prayer at Mosaic somewhere in there;
  10. more prayer in our services and small groups;
  11. prayer teams every Sunday available to pray with anyone wanting it.
  12. Growing in Worship—We’d really like to be able to be in a facility where we can have double the capacity we have right now. We never want to get huge in our “family worship gatherings” but it makes a difference when we can be together as more than 60 people.

But in terms of encounters with God that usher awe into our lives, here’s one section I really would like you to give us input. Go to “Section 3” on your sheet and tell us what you would like to experience at Mosaic that might help you experience the presence of God and His working among us more. (See I Cor. 14:24-26“Everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or interpretation….”)

  1. Growing in Fellowship
  2. God has given most of us homes or apartments where we can invite others to share a little bit of life with us. It won’t cost us a big building campaign. In fact, the only real cost will be the food and the time. Can you imagine what Mosaic would be like if at least once a week we were in each other’s homes sharing a meal together, praying, fellowshipping and talking about what God is (or isn’t) doing with us? What if Sunday afternoons became time given to God and fellowship?
  3. Sundays: I’m going to keep inviting you to share more of your life and heart on Sundays with simple interaction questions. Home Groups
  4. Growing in Ministry to others—This is probably the one area we need to make some of the biggest strides. I say that for a couple of reasons. First, God wants his house where he loves to feast and fellowship with people to be full (Luke 14:15-24, esp. vs. 23). Secondly, a healthy flock is a reproducing flock. I don’t think we’ve experienced nearly the number of public professions and baptisms as a part of God’s body like Mosaic can. I personally take a lot of the responsibility for that. I’m not nearly as good at calling people to public faith as I should be. So please pray that I’ll “do the work of an evangelist” better (as Paul exhorted Timothy to do in 2 Tim. 4:5).

So, how about we take this ministry-to-the-world journey together?

  • Here’s something you can do every WEEK. Make it a habit to hit the “I’M IN!” sign as you leave every week…just to remind yourself that you are heading out onto the ballfield of life to leave it all out there for the glory of Jesus and the sake of His kingdom.  
  • Starting in 2 weeks, I’ll be leading in just a couple of weeks an 8-week group called “The Tangible Kingdom.” It’s designed for those of us who need to learn/relearn how to engage people around us in friendships and kingdom relationships. We will have a daily journal that will help us tackle some of the inner-life challenges to living missional lives as well as engage us in some intentional activities, reflections and group experiences. If it proves to be successful for the pilot community, we’ll be offering it regularly. (Ask people to pray about this and join in on Monday nights during Conduit.)
  • City-serve opportunities: too many of us haven’t caught the vision, joy and heart of God in serving some of the neediest part of our surrounding community at things like Cup or City Gate or Big Table. I honestly think if Jesus was here in Spokane and had asked us to be one of his disciples, I think he’d be asking us to follow him into feeding hungry people, helping exhausted restaurant and hotel industry workers, being kind to street youth and many other things that just speak the love of Christ to our culture.
  • We’ve talked about hosting an Alpha for the Washington Apts sometime. That will require servers, cooks, etc.
  • Starting DBS groups in these 3 apartment buildings.
  • Having an international student live with you???
  • BUILDING—ever since we started here, we’ve had a vision to develop some sort of business or ministry space that enables us to engage in repeated personal contacts with people downtown. The ideas we’ve consistently held onto are something like a coffee shop or breakfast/lunch restaurant, a smaller concert venue for up to 200, a possible youth center where teens can spend the afternoons hanging out or getting homework help or playing games (possibly in conjunction with YFC or Cup). We’re not interested in moving into one of the empty church buildings downtown; we’re intent upon moving into the community in a people-friendly space that will allow us to add value to this community, employ people, and give God’s people opportunity to interact with spiritual sojourners in natural settings around food or music or movies.
  • We’re starting a Ministry & Building Expansion Project/Fund this year. When God opens this door, we need to be ready to jump through it!

Let me share with you two encounters I’ve had in the past month alone that have made me begin to wonder if God isn’t going to start answering this prayer this year.

1.)    Coffee with a family friend who isn’t attending church anywhere but is looking to purchase a building downtown…and was wondering if we might share space.

2.)    Call from a Christian businessman in this city a couple of weeks ago offering $20-25,000 when we are ready to move into a new space.


  • Take a moment to complete the insert. We’d like to collect them before you leave today.
  • Take a moment to listen to God. What area of these 5 here we’ve talked about today is He prompting you to do something that will bring new growth into your soul and new opportunities to experience God in your life?


PRAY for Mosaic, leaders, ministry….