Posted by: whereintheworldismike | November 19, 2012

The Book of Acts and Today

In the Book of Acts there is no specific form of church espoused. The overall focus of Acts is on the unstoppable Spirit-led expansion of the reign of Christ. Antioch was a large center for sending out cross-cultural teams. However very little is said of church polity or structure.  It seems wherever the gospel took root, a community of faith indigenous to the locale sprang up spontaneously as the Spirit had his way. The essence of the simple church is fundamentally different than the modern program based, professional pastor led church. Simple leadership is flat and appropriate to the specific situation. It’s natural for believers to “gossip the gospel” wherever they find themselves. Living as salt and light in their individual vocations–where they have maximum credibility and empathy–is outreach that ebbs and flows  as the Spirit moves those encountered to ask searching questions prompted by the fruit of the Spirit displayed in the lives of the saints growing in holiness even as they humbly work out their salvation with fear and trembling. The unnatural and often complicated evangelistic programs favored by the program-based church of Western industrialized countries never appear in Acts. The flow of the gospel in Acts is organic and grassroots as the indwelling Spirit alerts believers to specific opportunities to join God in his redemptive work in their local context. This dynamic becomes a display case of God’s redemptive grace to those still on the periphery as the uninitiated see the mighty power of God working through his yielded cooperators in their close proximity. No longer do they see only what a dedicated group of people can accomplish but they are increasingly convicted as they see God working around them compassionately and powerfully to redeem any who will taste the Lord’s goodness as the gospel comes to them in relevant and winsome tones from those they have lived and worked with long enough to have developed a relationship of trust and  mutual respect.

This is the dynamic God is developing among fashion workers in Tokyo. New believers are privileged to discover a God who not only loves them, but desires an intimate relationship with them. Salvation occurs as onlookers gradually decide to imbibe of this “God intoxication” that they have seen in their friends sustains even when material success remains elusive (Matt 6:33). As they “take the plunge” and bask in the Lord’s goodness, it is natural to recommend this life with a solid core of peace to other colleagues and friends–some of whom are floundering in the cutthroat sophistication of metropolitan fashion.

Still another example of simple church reveals the traditional program-based conditioning of the leader. The form is a friendly Bible study over tea in the inviting home of the hostess who hosts us every time we come to Okinawa. She has learned that the dysfunction of the local programmatic church  she still attends does not appeal to most of the ladies who come to her hungry to know her God who makes her an island of calm in an environment characterized by increasing stress and uncertainty. This warm and growing community is drawing K’s daughter in law (pictured) in answer to the prayers of her son (also pictured)

Numbers continually increase as lost and hungry souls are drawn to the warm and inviting fellowship where the Word of Life is incarnated in those who came before.

and a growing number of ladies who have resisted the traditional church culture for years but are increasingly anxious as governmental foibles and natural disasters continue to increase their personal stress–and resultant openness to the gospel. The development of new wine skins are continually needed to enfold the harvest God is raising up in each generation. Old wineskins can still reach many who will look for solace in familiar traditional church culture. But provision must be made for those who are hungering and thirsting for living water but are turned off by existing church culture–much of which is not biblical but merely cultural.


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