A Pastor’s Perspective, The Church Today


By: Mike Upchurch

The Church Today

Looking back at the ‘Early Church’ described in the book of Acts in the New Testament, it’s easy to contrast it with the Church of today. There are similarities, but there are striking differences too. The humble beginnings of the Protestant Church we are referring to came about of course with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit…..

“But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
‭‭ACTS‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭AMP

…..and when that promised day came on the Day of Pentecost in that Upper Room in Jerusalem, the Church was born! Over 3,000 were added that first day when Peter stood up to explain the outpouring, and that repentance was in order.

When speaking of the Early Church, I love quoting a former Pastor of mine, the late Herbert Yandell, founder of Ellendale Assembly of God. He often stated it shouldn’t be called the “Early Church”; more appropriately it should be called “the early days of the Church.” Jesus Christ, the head, is the same yesterday, today and forever, and His Church should be no different. So moving forward, let’s just call it the Church.

Over the next few weeks following that outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Church grew rapidly in number with the disciples performing signs and wonders through the power endowed them by the Holy Spirit. Bound together by a heartfelt love for other, these new converts, along with Jesus’ faithful disciples and followers, began meeting in each other’s homes. They were having their meals together, assembling to hear the teaching of the Disciples, and spending time in prayer. And to our credit, we do much the same today in most churches.

Examining the Church in those early days though, one of the notable differences between then and the now is found in verse 47 of the second chapter of Acts…..

“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.”

Did you see it? “And having favor with all the people.” That doesn’t accurately describe the appearance of the Church today. We in the church today are seemingly hated by the world, and scorned for our very existence. But are we being persecuted because we are representing Christ? Or are we hated because we seem hypocritical to those outside the Church? I suppose it could be the latter in some instances.

But to me, the most striking difference between then and now is discovered when we look back a few verses in that same chapter…..

43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:43-44‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

What is described in verse 44 is the fact they were in unity. That unity is why they were seeing the signs and wonders mentioned in verse 43. That is my humble opinion of course. But unity is a powerful thing. If we were in unity in the Church today, and were not divided so drastically as we are, then is it possible we could see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in waves such as they saw back then, and would we see signs and wonders they experienced as well? I for one believe it to be so.

Granted there are churches who do experience signs and wonders, and there are churches who do have unity, but that does not describe the Church in whole. In some churches, there is a ‘sign’ out front and people ‘wonder’ what’s going on inside! I shudder at the thought of giving the devil credit for anything, but he has played a big part in destroying unity and in taking the wind out of our corporate sails. But he has had a lot of help too. He has employed Jesus’ followers in many cases. I have witnessed church ‘splits’ in almost every church of which I have been a part. Even participated in a couple of those splits, as I found myself at odds with the leadership. But I left confident I had heard from the Lord, and that it was time for me to move on, lest I become a sour apple affecting the rest of the basket.

That said, this column isn’t meant to lay blame at the feet of the corporate Church. Rather, it rests at our feet. We need to make sure we are individually behaving in ways our spiritual ancestors did. It lies within us to be as they were, rather than laying blame on an Organization. If we want to see churches grow in number, and if we want to see signs and wonders the Church saw in the early days, and if we want to “have favor with all the people”, then we’re going to have to come together in one accord and love each other and mean it. But it starts with us individually. It starts within! It’s up to us, not an Organization.

There are no shortcuts to the Church being what it once was, and there is certainly no reward in being divided. We need to be at peace and we need to walk in love and we need to pursue having all things together and having all things in common, or we are a counterfeit of our heritage. We may not be able to bring healing to entire churches, but we can start with seeking the Lord ourselves. We need to personally strive to be in unity regardless of positions others may take. And we need to individually try to look like our forefathers in the early days of the Church, regardless of how the corporate Church appears to the world. It is up to us individually, as we will be judged individually, not corporately. If you’re doing everything right, then those who are doing wrong will answer for themselves, and will not be able to point fingers at you.
Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:9

Be a peacemaker. Walk in peace. Walk in unity. Walk uprightly. Fellowship with like minded saints. Study the word. Pray. You’ll look like the good old days of the Church when you do.

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike