This looks like an excellent book by Joseph H. Hellerman. You can find it here
I looked at the excerpts on Amazon and I was thoroughly inspired. The author shared a most powerful quotes that proved why the early Christians were so successful in spreading the gospel and growing in numbers. This was written by the pagan emperor, Julian who wrote:
“Why do we not observe that it is their (the Christian’s) benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead and the pretended holiness of their lives that have done the most to increase atheist? …when…impious Galileans support not only their own poor, but our s as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us.” Works of Julian 69
The fact that Julian calls Christians impious and atheists is pretty funny I think. He must have been tearing his hair out as well as doing mental somersaults and back flips to try to figure these guys out.
I loved the way that Hellerman concludes the book by saying that he hopes that his church would be described as Luke described the early Christians in Acts 4:32-35, particularly in verse 4:33 which i have italicized.
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
I find it interesting that the author did not want his church to be described as the verses before and after–where it describes how they shared their material possessions. I did not read the whole book, so I do not know if he addressed this very important part of the power of the early church. But I look forward to reading this book in whole as inspiration for the community that I hope to start one day soon.