Alright, show of hands here.  How many of you actually enjoyed taking history classes in High School?  Yup, that’s probably about right.  History is not the most popular subject with a lot of folks and that’s ok.  On the other hand, I’m one of those wired guys who actually enjoyed the study.  Don’t know, but maybe it’s just because I liked blowing an hour going to the film room at Tascosa High to watch a WWII documentary instead of sitting through Geometry.  But history does have important lessons to teach us in creating a more successful future.  If we take time to examine the good and bad decisions and the lives of those who have gone before us, we can learn from their victories and mistakes.  So it is with the CHURCH.  The first followers of Christ were so much like Jesus that they were actually called “Christians” for the first time in Antioch (Acts 11:26).  But how can that kind of “church” be realized today?  By that I don’t mean the wearing of a term, but actually being and living in such a way that others will see the real Christ and His Kingdom in us.  One of the ways to realize this is to rediscover the ancient church before man made traditions set in.  With that in mind, we’re going to take a few months to periodically examine what the early church looked like from the book of Acts and extra biblical sources written prior to the second or third century.  This was a period prior to the institutionalization of the church.  Writing about this era, Eberhard Arnold remarks that “The original witness of the church must lead us all, though still in very different camps, into the unity and purity of the clear light.”  Yes I know that there are some folks who would chuck this pursuit as being just too impractical for the modern Western thinker.  But I tend to agree with Roland Allen who rightly summed up the issue well in stating that, “In no other work do we set the great masters wholly on one side, and teach the students of today that whatever they may copy, they may not copy them, because they lived in a different age under exceptional circumstances and were endowed with exceptional genius.”  In every other pursuit, we take into consideration what past and ancient leaders have exemplified, so it would stand to reason that we can do so in living out the Kingdom and Church life as well.  Let’s take some time to rethink CHURCH in light of the ancient order of things.  What about you, have there been examples in your Church experience that more resembled western American culture or some other custom above simple Christian spirituality?