it just got me thinking.

I drive past 5 different churches on the way to my own church just a few miles from my house. And my own church meets at ten different times and places in our city for worship services. So when I read this description of the growth of the Christian church in the second century, it made me think:

A consequence of the growth of congregations was that it soon became impossible for all Christians in a particular city to gather together for worship. The unity of the body of Christ was so important that they felt like something was lost when in a single city there were several congregations. In order to preserve and symbolize the bond of unity, the custom arose in some places to send a piece of bread from the communion service in the bishop’s church to be added to the bread to be used in other churches in the same city.

The Story of Christianity, Justo Gonzalez, p 95.

Of course, we are in a new era. Lots of history has happened since that time.  We’ve got 3rd Baptists and 2nd Presbyterians and Redeemer Lutherans and multi-site and it’s all great. Plus, passing a loaf of bread might be a little weird. I hear all that.

But still…

“The unity of the body of Christ was so important that they felt like something was lost when in a single city there were several congregations.”

They knew they were losing something as they grew, so they did something about it. They knew they couldn’t cram everyone in one place, so they passed a chunk of bread between churches to remind them of one another. And then they prayed for the other churches in their city.

Prayer. What a crazy, crazy thought…It just got me thinking. Back to my reading now.


~ by bradherndon on January 18, 2010.

5 Responses to “it just got me thinking.”

  1. LOVE this post, ‘Rad! the unity of the global church body is one of my favorite things about being catholic. well, Anglican. anyway…love it. :)

  2. Great post, Brad. I think there’s something to this, even within the multi-site model of FBCLR. What efforts are made to unify and to demonstrate that unity throughout the body, and then how can this be demonstrated in a city/regional way?
    ShareFest was a yearly attempt at that, but maybe much more could be done.
    Thanks for the stimulating post!

  3. Love, love, love this. Do you remember when we had church down by the river? It was part of ShareFest I think. It would be so cool to do that once every year or so with all churches in town that wanted to participate.

  4. Dude, great post! The reading is having the same impact on me. It’s texts like this that challenge me and ask me to reconsider continuously how and why we do church! I also liked this part on Constantine… makes me go hhmmmm,

    “The Impact of Constantine – …people were flocking into the church in such numbers (via imperial edict) that there was littel time to prepare them for baptism, and even less to guidee them in the Christian life once they had been baptized”

    The Story of Christianity, Justo Gonzalez, Pg 126

    WOW! Is this also true of today’s churches that experience growth beyond measure in short periods of time? Are we seeing new converts or recylced believers moving to the next best church and thus discipleship is optional and not a requirement? This reading has me thinking through a lot right now!

  5. right on Tony!

    Gonzalez also describes the role of bishop as a guide and shepherd for new Christians “as they sought to discover the implications of their faith in various situations in life” (121). that’s a great job description for pastors — helping followers of Christ understand how much their faith will/should influence the other parts of their life.

    michael/heidi/charla – i remember visiting a large church here in town that took a part of their service to pray for another church in the city. they basically flip through the phone book each week, call churches and ask what they can specifically be praying for that church. what a great way to remind your church that the body of Christ reaches far beyond our own walls and relationships.

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