Are You an Acts 2 Church?

Are You an Acts 2 Church? May 11, 2011

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: some erstwhile young church planter says to me, “I’m really looking to plant an Acts 2 church.”  Usually, they’re moving to Seattle-the-most-unchurched-city-in-America-actually-closer-to-Europe-than-to-anywhere-in-the-U.S.  My retort is always the same: “Yeah, that lasted about five verses; then God started killing the liars.”

Well, that wonderful little passage at the end of Acts 2 comes up in the lectionary this week.  Russell Rathbun, curator of The Hardest Question, a lectionary blog, has a great post on this passage, in which he questions our assumptions about the Utopian Church:

Sixty seven million hits on a Google search for “Acts 2 Church” can’t be wrong—that’s over a million entries for every verse. There are Baptist, United Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Pietiest, Mennonite and no end of independent and evangelical congregations that go by the name Acts 2 Church. There are the “Acts 2 Network,” “How to Be an Acts 2 Church,” “Building an Acts 2 Church,” the “Acts 2 Process”—plus, like a million other attempts at incarnating, reviving or re-establishing the original.

The curious thing is, the author of the Acts of the Apostles never mentions it again. The Utopian Church does not seem to serve as a model as the faith is expanded. Acts famously begins in Jerusalem and ends in Rome, where according to Eusebius it builds structures and hierarchies until it becomes something that fits in nicely with the Roman Empire.

via The Hardest Question: The Utopian Church

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • wackywilliams

    It’s funny that you posted this today, as I was just talking about this at out bible study lat night. about 5yrs ago I went to a church that called themselves a acts2 church & I never could really figure out what the blazes that ment! I tryed asking the pastor but he never did really exslane it to me. he only had a congergation of 10 & after 6 months, one couple moved to another state, I left & that left only his family so the church folded & he never has got another one up, so I guess what the heck he was trying to acomplish wasn’t that inportent. anyway if you ever get a moment Tony, I would like to know what the heck that means just out of curiosty sake. thanks -PD

  • Tony, next week when you’re at Rochester College, ask this question. As Church of Christ folk, they should answer yes, we are. They are deeply committed to being a restoration movement church that seeks to restore the church of Acts (minus the speaking in tongues).

    See you then!

  • Jay

    I would be interested to understand just what people understand an Acts 2 church to be. What are the guiding principles of that model vs for example the later hierarchal church model that followed. What is being suggested by this juxtaposition of these to models. It is difficult for me to accept any system that lacks principles of equality and democracy. While I am not particularly interested to defend any historic model as Utopian, I do believe there are some universal principles that might transcend all culture.

  • I’ve actually seen the Acts 2 Church; common purse, speaking in tongues, and many wonderful mature Christians. Not that it is perfect, they do have people who are selfish and immature, just like all churches. However, their 50+ years of sharing their incomes and property in close quarters has produced some massively beautiful human beings.

    I left them 13 years ago when my supernatural faith was replaced by religious naturalism. Hardest decision I ever made. Don’t believe me?

    Well, here they are:

    Specifically, see this video from 2005:

  • I am so guilty of using the early church as a model for how it should be, for what we should return to. You raise a great point that I don’t have a response to.

  • Vox Impopuli

    Yeah, i’ve heard this one way too many times… ‘Is this the church we read about in acts?’ I always agree with these people. and tell them it’s more like the church we read about in Corinthians…. which ‘probably’ was comparable tot he ‘one’ in acts… I think Acts tells us a lot about the heart and virtue of the first christians, and how the teachings of Jesus were practically applied in their communities. but it doesn’t give a blue print. People think this way because they keep reading these naratives as moral and practical ‘laws’…