The headline in Christianity Today is shocking: Gallup: Fewer Than Half of Americans Belong to a Church. How can that be when somewhere between 70-80% of the population claims to have some religious affiliation? Ultimately, what does istsay when fewer than 50% of the people in America belong to a church?
The book of Acts is really part two of the Gospel of Luke. It is written by the same author, and tells us what happened in the early years of the church.
Although the book is called the ‘Acts of the Apostles’, Luke tells us only of some apostles—mainly Peter and Paul. He begins by describing the life of the church in Jerusalem, where Peter is the leading character. Then he tells us how persecution drives the followers of Jesus out of Jerusalem, so that the good news is spread to other places. Finally, he tells us about the conversion of Paul and his missionary journeys.
By the end of his book, Luke has shown us how the gospel of Jesus Christ has travelled from Jerusalem to Rome—from the religious capital of the Jews to the secular capital of the Roman empire. Jesus promises his followers that they will spread the good news about him ‘in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (1:8).
Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., p. 533). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.