Bill Hybels articulates two great sentiments when it comes to church life. He says, "The local church is the hope of the world," and, "There's nothing like the local church when it's functioning right." There is no other cause which merits our heart's affection, our physical strength and our mental energy as the church of Jesus Christ.

Most of us have such high hopes for our churches and such ideals of what the church should be, but too often we run into the realities of an impotent, ineffective church. In Acts 2:42-47, we see the early church and how it got off to such a good start.

An Effective Church Is a Learning Church
Have you ever wished you could ask Peter how it was for him to be with Jesus? Do you wish he could describe the scene on the Mount of Transfiguration? Would you like to ask him when it really became clear to him that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God?

The 3,000 who came to Christ on Pentecost Sunday not only had the privilege of hearing the single most effective sermon ever preached, but had the privilege of going on a regular basis and learning from those who had walked with Jesus on this earth. Their experience with Christ and indwelling of the Holy Spirit filled them with an insatiable hunger to learn all they could. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.

An Effective Church Is a Loving Church
The greatest joys of church life come from those times when we have felt God's love through our brothers and sisters in Christ. The greatest disappointments come when we have not received God's love through brothers and sisters at a time when we were in need.

Acts 2:44-45 says, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." This wasn't enforced socialism. It was simply the impulse in the hearts of the people to see a need and do what they could to meet that need. Who wouldn't want to be a part of a church where they knew they'd be loved that way?

An Effective Church Is a Worshiping Church
There is great concern for worship in our day. We all have our preferences, whether traditional, contemporary or blended. I believe the early church experienced authentic worship. It had a real and dynamic encounter with the Holy Spirit. It came to know the risen Christ and found in Him the fulfillment of the promise of the ages.

Scripture says, "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." They remembered the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as they came together and did life together.

An Effective Church Is a Witnessing Church
There can be no doubt God was doing something in the midst of these people who would change the lives of millions of people in successive centuries. Before anything else, they had to have an effective witness in their context. Many people seem to have the idea that the more they stand up for Jesus, the more people will hate them. Our witness may arouse opposition at times, but I find it striking that the words that were written about this church are that they were "praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

The need of our hearts, of our lives and of our hours is for a church that is functioning as God intends in learning, loving, worshiping and witnessing.