4 Ways for the Church to be Worldchangers
This is a guest post by my friend Vance Pitman. Vance is Senior Pastor of Hope Church, Las Vegas and a National Mobilizer with the North America Mission Board. I heard Vance give this message at a church planting conference and asked him to share it as a post here.
4 Ways for the Church to be Worldchangers
William James once said, "The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it." Never has a group of people more embodied that statement than in the opening pages of the book of Acts. A small group of untalented, uneducated, unqualified people literally turned the world upside down and, now, 2000 years later, there are hundreds of millions of people following the movement which they were used by God to begin. It begs a very important question: what was it about them that enabled them to be so mightily used of God?
As the story unfolds in Acts 1-2, we uncover some characteristics that I believe answer that question. And what's most encouraging is that these characteristics all have the possibility of being assimilated into our lives today.
First, they had a faith that produced obedience. Let me say it another way-they simply trusted God and did what God said. Remember what Jesus told them to do in Acts 1:4, "He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem."
If you'd taken an opinion poll among this group of people about where they wanted to be, Jerusalem would not have been on anyone's list. I can hear the conversation now, "Jerusalem...are you kidding? They hate us there. They'll kill us there." As a matter of fact, if you'd asked them to list their top three cities to go begin the movement, some spiritual saint would have said, "Lord I don't care where we go...I'll go anywhere just as long as it's NOT Jerusalem." You see, Jerusalem was the scene of the crime. They had just witnessed Jesus being brutally beaten and crucified in Jerusalem. They wanted no part of Jerusalem. And yet Acts 1:12 says they went to...yep, you guessed it...Jerusalem.
Why in the world did they go to Jerusalem? Because it's what Jesus said. If we are going to join in God's world-changing mission, we must listen for His voice and simply do what He says. Unfortunately, today, we are too busy developing strategies and planning agendas to listen for the voice of God. Maybe that's why we are not seeing God move like they did.
Second, they had a passion that produced unity. Acts 1:14 tells us something extremely unique about this group of people. It says of them, "these all with one mind." I must be honest, I don't know that I've ever been in a church about which you could say that. "One mind" literally means that these people had all wrapped their hearts around the same thing. What was it? The key is in Acts 1:3...
To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
For forty days, His last forty days on planet earth, Jesus only talked to His followers about one thing-the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is God's sovereign activity in the world resulting in people being in right relationship with Himself. It's the big picture of what God is doing in the world. It's God's global mission of redeeming a people unto Himself from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. And these followers wrapped their hearts around it. Nothing else mattered but the mission.
Third, they had a desperation that produced prayer. Have you ever noticed the strange scene in Acts 1:8-11? In verse 8, Jesus, in essence, says, "Okay here's the plan...you're gonna start where they hate you, Jerusalem...then you're gonna go where you hate them, Samaria...then you're gonna go where you don't know what exists and don't know how to get there, the remotest parts of the earth." And then if they weren't blown away enough with the plan, Jesus begins to float! That's right, float! And not just a little bit...He floats all the way up into the sky, through the clouds, and disappears. And the Bible tells us they just stood there "gazing into the sky." And I believe they would have died right there, but then something even more amazing happens. God sends two angels to tell the disciples to get busy. Just in case you think I'm making this up, read what the angels said for yourself:
They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."-Acts 1:11
And everything changed with those words-"This Jesus...will come"! They ran back to Jerusalem, gathered in the upper room, fell on their faces and cried out to God in desperation. They knew they were hopeless unless God showed up in a big way. So they grabbed a hold of the altar of God and they did not let go until God did what He said He would do. There's some insight into why we aren't seeing God move today like He did in the book of Acts. We have time for everything but prayer!
Finally, they had the Spirit that produced power. There's much debate about what took place in Acts 2. And to be totally honest, no one can explain it completely. All we know for sure is that the Spirit of God empowered His church like He had never done before. What we need today is a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God that can only be explained by the statement, "God showed up in a big way!"
So there you have it: ordinary people used by God in an extraordinary way.
Hear me carefully. I'm not saying this is a formula by which we can manipulate a move of God. What I am saying is that, should the wind of the Spirit of God in His sovereignty choose to move, we must make sure that we have our sails raised to join in His activity.
Lord, do it again!
originally posted at Ron Edmondson thoughts on leadership, church and culture
used by permission: ©2015 Ron Edmondson