The Importance of Group
"Church" is the English word in religious context translated from a Greek word with a more general meaning. "Ecclesia," refers to an assembly - a group of people. Twice in Acts 2, Luke says that as people accepted the message, were baptized and were saved, they were "added to their number" by the Lord. "Ecclesia" is not found in Acts 2, though the idea of a group is obvious. We will find ecclesia and its English religious equivalent "church" for the first time in Acts in chapter 5.
From the beginning of the assembly of the saved, God intended that "group" should be a significant part of the Christians life. Our use of the accepted English words has played a part in our failure to understand the importance of group. For us, the assembly is the Sunday morning gathering. For us, the church is the building where we assemble.
These Christians were numbered together, as opposed to being numbered with the rejecters of the word, the unbaptized and the unsaved. These Christians who were numbered together experienced things together. They met, ate, learned, saw miracles occur, praised, grew, and gave their possessions together. Together, they enjoyed the favor of all the people. These Christians were afraid together, raised their voices in courage and thanks together, prayed together, were filled with the Spirit and spoke the Word boldly together.
Next year, Alcoholics Anonymous will celebrate 70 years of helping alcoholics stay sober. Their strength, above everything else that may be taught and emphasized, is their group. The greatest benefit of joining Alcoholics Anonymous is that the alcoholic becomes a part of a group whose purpose is to keep its members away from alcohol and its destructive consequences.
Research indicates that individual education and personal growth through individualized counseling may help an alcoholic stay away from his poison, but its not likely. For a real chance, you’ve got to have a group whose sole purpose is to help you quit drinking.
The church, the assembly, the group of the saved has a soul purpose. From the beginning of the group God has said, "This is not an ‘alone’ thing." You’ve been added to the number.