I realized that we are just 7 weeks away from the official launch of our church (now about 47 days and counting). I briefly mentioned to the whole group the similarities between giving birth to a church and giving birth to a child. As the days get closer to the actual “delivery” date, there is greater excitement, anticipation and expectation. As we were driving home, Christina said, “That was a good illustration.” As I was about to pat myself on the back, she then continued, “Well, don’t forget that the labor is difficult and the first few months are hard.” I was going to respond by saying, “I heard that the labor pains were not that bad”… j/k… I am totally joking. I have personally witnessed 3 of them (Christina decided to go natural with all 3) and I can confidently say, “Thank God for the Y chromosome.”
This week we went over Acts 15:36-17:15. After breaking up into smaller groups to discuss this passage, we got together to share our various insights. It was encouraging to hear people’s observations. As I was looking over this section, I could not help but notice some of the key DNA that I would love to see in this new church plant:
1) Being culturally relevant (15:1-5) – It was pretty incredible to see that Paul had Timothy circumcised in order to minister unto the Jews in Derbe and Lystra. So often we go to the two extremes when it comes to engaging our culture – isolation or integration. When we isolate ourselves from the world, we are not able to live out our calling as “the salt and light” of the world. But if we integrate everything that the secular world does then people will wonder, “what is the difference?” If we are serious about transforming the world, then we have to engage the culture by being relevant yet distinct. It is always easier said than done.
2) Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit (15:6-10) – As Paul was about to enter into Troas, he received a vision of a man begging him to come to Macedonia. Then in v. 10, it says, “we got ready at once.” In 2 Co 2:12-13, Paul writing to the people of Corinth gives us a further insight to the situation. He mentions, “I still had no peace of mind” (2 Co 2:13). Even though the door was opened, Paul was sensitive to what the Holy Spirit was saying to him. Too often, we find ourselves listening to our flesh or human wisdom. What would happen if the Holy Spirit was leading and directing us? Maybe we would stop doing some things… maybe we would start doing some things.
3) Evangelizing to all types of people (16:13-15) – In this section we see various types of people coming to know the Lord. They all had different backgrounds and even socio-economic status, but they all experienced the power of the Gospel. Lydia, a businesswoman (16:14); slave girl (16:16-18); jailer (16:30-34); and aristocrats (17:4). The Gospel knows no bounds – it encompasses very person on this planet. Then, why is it that churches usually attract a homogenous group of people?
4) The experience of the miraculous (16:16-34) – Time and time again, the apostles performed miraculous signs – whether it was casting out demons, healing the sick, raising people from the dead or open up prison doors. The power of God was always displayed. The greatest miracle will always be a transformed heart, but we are still hungering for a day when God’s power is manifested to all peoples.
5) The power of prayer and worship (16:25-26) – Just like Acts 12, when the people were praying for Peter’s release from prison, we see God doing something miraculous. There is power in prayer and in worship. We want to bring that kind of anointing in our worship and praise as well as in our prayer lives. No matter how conscious and sensitive a person wants to be towards seekers and pre-Christians, what they need to see is the demonstration of God’s power in their lives – and often times the only way they can experience it is through prayer and worship.
6) The truth of Scripture (17:10-15) – The Bereans “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day” (Acts 17:11). Jesus said in Jn 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” If the Word of God is the truth, then there is something that must happen when God’s people study and receive God’s Word. The Body of Christ must be prepared and equipped with God’s truth to carry out its mission.
Then, we closed out our time by spending some time in prayer. God is continuing to do a good work in our hearts and we give God all the glory.