Week 3 of The Way: a new series on the Book of Acts
Go Deeper Passages:
John 13:34-35, 17:21-23
On Sunday, Pastor Tyler forgot to share a key visual from his sermon. The Barna and Q Research Group discovered that thriving American churches in 2017 pursued both internal depth and external impact in the following ways:
Teaching the Bible thoroughly
Fostering close Christian community
Developing new leaders
Leading with a team that has diverse skills and spiritual gifts
Prioritizing outreach by serving the poor and sharing faith
Partnering with other churches and causes
Being innovative for the sake of the Gospel
Focussing on receptive teens and young adults
BOTH AN INTERNAL + EXTERNAL PURSUIT:
Prayed for those within and outside of their walls.
The early church didn't just believe. It is a common mistake we make to think that God was only interested in converting people from hell to heaven. Jesus was making a resurrection people to help Him "make all things new" on "earth as it is in heaven". To prepare hearts for His return by living as a counter-cultural hope in a world pining for it.
In Acts 2:42-47, we see a group of people living fully alive in the power of the Spirit of Jesus. They were a radical alternative to the growing secondary culture around them. Pastor and Theologian Soong-Chan Rah describes a secondary culture as one that is focused on productivity, efficiency, and results over relationship. In the 1st century, the Roman empire was the greatest force the world had known. It multiplied via strength and force contrary to the loving, humble, and gracious way of Jesus. It's metrics were success, dominance, and usury. It was more interested in people knowing the "gospel of Caesar", than in being good news for its people. It treasured advancement more than love.
Into this world came a new community of people. With primary cultural values, they shared all they had as anyone had need. They did life together in the holy places and their homes. They eat, prayed, celebrated, and performed signs and wonders together among the secondary culture. They weren't segregated from their neighbors, but were a new reality of hope within their lives. They devoted themselves to the teachings of Jesus as they were passed one to another through the apostles. They utilized the secondary cultural technology of new roads and travel methods to share the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Seattle is emblematic of a secondary cultural reality. It is an incredible accomplishment of innovation, technological advancement, and automation. It is to be celebrated as a city who is grasping and fulfilling the second part of the cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28 by "multiplying". Yet, is the isolation, loneliness, and individualism that are part of secondary culture all there is? Do we have to squeeze Christian community in to a system built by machines? Can faith multiply without first being "fruitful"? It appears that the devastating wake of the American church growth movement in the 20th century is that prioritizing program over people doesn't work. That faith without the foundation of relational practice is a recipe for a separation of the word and flesh that Jesus combined in Himself. The church is picking up the pieces of the fruitlessness of this endeavor.
Acts 2:41-47 tells us a story about a primary culture loving within a secondary culture. Of people who knew one another deeply, and truly loved each other. The people in their community were never a means to the end. They were always the end to be loved. Out of their fruitful care, they multiplied rapidly as "many were added to their number daily". They were a powerful presence by being inwardly outward. They didn't stop at their own devotion but lived lives that shared their hope with their neighbors in all the places they intersected with them.
Does your life reflect more of a secondary cultural or primary cultural heart? Are you driven more by success or relationships? Why?
What would it look like for our community to embody an intersection of primary and secondary culture? Like the church in Acts 2:41-47, how could we be deeply rooted, yet actively pursuing our neighbors thriving?
Which of the internal or external pursuits above is God putting on your heart for our community's growth? For your own growth in love for God and others?
Jesus: Ask the Spirit to guide you in to deeper relationship with others at ASC. Use God's grace as your strength to push past any desire not to.
People: Learn more about our Awaken Leadership Experience and Sign up Here to pursue being known and needed on a deeper level at ASC. Your impact will be significant both internally in community at A Seattle Church and in the lives of our neighbors.
City: Pray for Seattle in specific ways. Pray for hearts to be softened to God's love and grace. For the church (and our community) to be salt and light to our neighbors. Pray against systems that discourage lives being transformed in Jesus. Practically take a step to answering your prayers in some way. If you don't know how. Reach out to Tyler and he'd love to help you find a way.
Please share what you experienced going through this/how God is moving in your life by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org