Yesterday in gathering, Tommy Novak led our teaching time through Acts 20:17-38. It was an encouraging and challenging time, encouraging in the sense that we all have a valuable part in serving together as His church and challenging in the sense that we all have a valuable part in serving together as His church.
The Sunday before, we were in verses 8 to 10 of Acts 19, and I shared with our church family the desire of our pastoral team and vision team as a whole to see us commit to some very practical next steps together as a church family. We shared the WESTPOINT acronym that we had come up with that is intended to be nothing more than a reminder of who we are as a church family together. May we:
POINT neighbors and nations to Jesus
Two verses stood out to me these last two Sundays. One from Acts 19 and one from Acts 20.
10 And this went on for two years, so that all the inhabitants of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the message about the Lord.
(Acts 19:10, HCSB)
24 But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.
(Acts 20:24, the Message)
It seems to me that if we desire to see the first we must be committed to the second.
Remember, Paul did not say in verse 24 of Acts 20 that there was one specific way that he let everyone he met “know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” And why? Because there are many different ways, but all of them are compelled by the Gospel of a God who came near because He so loved the world. The “how” may be via long-term, loving relationship or via immediate-prompted, loving conversation, and in either case notice the central modifier to be love.
Do you want to see all the inhabitants of West Orange County hear the message of the Lord? Are you willing to let everyone you meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God? The former won’t happen without the latter. And none of it will happen, at least as I would suggest to you, without two very, very important factors.
One, a love relationship with Jesus lived out in surrender and obedience as we listen and respond to the living presence of the Holy Spirit in the everyday rhythms of our lives. And two, loving relationship with one another as a church family. We cannot live sent apart from the One sent to us. And we cannot live on “mission TO” without living on “mission TOGETHER.”
So, how does your pastoral team and vision team propose that we do that? It’s actually very simple, but it actually may cause a bit of re-prioritizing and reorienting for all of us. Much like Acts 2:42 declares, we must take seriously our communication with God (prayer), our immersion into and obedience to the Scriptures (the Apostles’ teachings), our love for one another through thick and thin (fellowship), and our life together unified around the Gospel message and Gospel mission (the breaking of bread together). Here’s specifically how we propose to live this out together:
:: take the initiative to connect with 3 to 5 families within the Westpoint family to be family with, committing to passionately pray for one another and to deeply love each other through thick and thin.[you may already be walking closely with several families. that’s great! if you are but you are not walking with a “sent” purpose, would you be willing to be more purposeful and intentional in your friendships?]
:: study the Scriptures together as a group of families for more than just greater Biblical knowledge, but rather in order to simply ask the question, “If this is true, how must we individually and together surrender to the Holy Spirit that adjustments might be made in our lives based upon the teachings of this Scripture?”
:: encourage each other and hold each other accountable to engage the lost in the pathways of our lives, praying for the lost together, being patient in the long-term of the friendship and journey, and proactively loving them first and caring for them in specific ways, welcoming them into relationship with us like they are family, too.
:: then, let’s come together as a “BIG Family” frequently to celebrate what God is doing and to learn from each other as we gather on Sundays, as we connect during “together” events, and as several SENT Groups connect for meals and celebrations and to serve together.
This is not “in addition” to all the other church stuff we are doing. This is it. This is being the church together and living sent daily. This is loving each other walking in deep fellowship together through thick and thin. Is this what Jesus intended? Will we see “on earth as it is in heaven” if we reorient our understanding of church and our lives on mission to this simple of a commitment? Will every inhabitant of West Orange County hear the message of the Lord as a result?
Let’s try it and see.
Meantime, be praying and PLEASE COME NEXT SUNDAY MORNING IF YOU WANT TO Q & A ABOUT THIS. We will take the teaching time to dialogue further about this, to pray together, and to leave together to live sent.
Jen and I love you all so much and are so grateful for this very sobering but exciting journey together as His church.