The early church did not descend from Heaven on a golden string. Nor did it spring full-grown from the mind of Jesus or the Apostles. The church emerged as the result of God's decisive action within a particular people, Israel, their story and their historical context. The focal point of this action was Jesus-his ministry, death and resurrection. But there were challenges, setbacks, and conflicts, as well as bursts of understanding, expansion and growth. While the main lines of this story display a remarkable unity, a close examination also reveals a living diversity of cultures, perspectives and practices. This book explores the story, weighs the issues and traces the contours of the early church's expansion and growth, life and practices, leadership and worship. Here is a panoramic introduction to the church as it was in the first century and a foundation for considering how it should be in the twenty-first century.