The author of Acts introduces the narrative by pointing back to his first volume: ‘In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach’ (Acts 1:1). Acts, in contrast, tells us some of what Jesus continued to do and teach through His disciples. This present participle is vital, because the tacit assumption is that the ministry of the disciples, in the power of the Spirit, is a continuation of the ministry of Jesus. And His ministry continues today through us, as we are work in collaboration with the Spirit.
I am beginning a series of blog posts on Acts of the Apostles. They will be a series of reflections as I seek to draw some lessons from the biblical text and apply them to the contemporary ‘mission scene.’ You may agree with the points I make – but equally you may want to question some of the things I write. This is healthy and I welcome your comments and feedback.
Other better scholars will (no doubt) offer different perspectives, but I am approaching the text primarily as a missiological narrative rather than as doctrinal or historical accounts. Acts is an account of the spread and growth of the early church, from ‘Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). There are four main actors throughout the text: Jesus (1:1) and the Holy Spirit (1:8), the ‘Word of God’ and the Christian community. Off stage – in the wings directing everything – is the Father. The director and actors work in collaboration throughout the text as the story unfolds.
This was a question I was asked recently and it came up again just this week as I was participating in discussions about how to start new things. There are many possible answers and you can read many good books – and a number of not so good books – on this topic.
I think that there are three very basic foundations to effective ministry. In my opinion each of which MUST be in place if the project is to have any chance of getting started and thriving and you might be surprised to see that strategy and money aren’t included.
If I said the words “extreme faith” to you, what would spring to mind?
A missionary leaving behind their home to go to an unreached part of the world? A terrorist bomber? The title of a Christian conference?
In our wider culture, faith to the extreme has become a no-go zone. Radical religion is socially awkward at best and dangerous at worst.
Last week, I was asked to lead a seminar on the subject of humble mission with the following strapline:
Humble mission: what is the role of the European church in Mission? Can we overcome barriers from our
So what is “ISM in reverse?”
We know of “ministry to international students.” But what if international students themselves were the ones sharing with their fellow students, many from unreached cultures? This is “ISM in reverse” – international students doing this ministry to reach the nations.
Meet “Sam,” an American international student in China. He’s doing a two-year master’s in international business under a full Chinese government scholarship at a top-ranked university.
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11
Some days, the news makes me want to hide under my duvet. I don’t need to tell you that global events over the last year or so have left many of us feeling uncertain about the future, unsure if we really know our neighbours and perhaps paralysed in the face of unfathomable suffering.
When I was invited to contribute to the GC blog my mind wandered far and wide. What would be interesting? What would be helpful? What would enable people to engage in the mission of God? What are the ‘buzzwords’ of the day? Partnership, diaspora, discipleship, post-christendom. Or, what are the questions I get asked regularly? Does God really have a plan for my life? How can I be sure what God is calling me to? How does faith work? Why is prayer so important? What does mission mean? Who are the unreached? So my mind wandered.
“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22
After 10 years of working in the civil service, as I was watching a James Dobson film, God gave me a strong desire to be a teacher. I had no A levels, never mind a degree, and a wife and young family to support so it seemed a crazy idea. However, when God speaks into your heart it is simply a question of whether you will obey or not. I did obey that call and became a Primary school teacher and then was involved in Initial Teacher Education for 16 years.
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy 4:6-7
Do Paul’s words inspire you with a vision for your life? Are they a source of motivation? Or do they fill you with a sense of inadequacy, or maybe even guilt?
If I’m honest, over the years I’ve experienced all of these feelings as I’ve contemplated Paul’s no-holds-barred faithfulness. Could I EVER live a life like that? What would it look like for me to be faithful for a lifetime?