This is one of those “What if? Thought exercises” so disclaimers include that it doesnt come with tight exegesis, I am not saying this is how to apply Acts 8-15 and I am not proposing this as a definite strategy. However, our Union Learning Community were discussing how the Gentiles were included in the church and it got me thinking about what this might look like in terms of contemporary urban mission.
Acts 8-15 describes the way in which the church moved from being a Jewish movement to something that crossed cultures. Here are some things that happened.
1. Circumstances- specifically persecution meant that Christians were moved out from Neural to new areas.
2. The Holy Spirit was at work in people’s lives. These were Samartians and godfearers who had some cultural connections with Jewish believers. There wasn’t a strategic move to reach them but rather a response to their cry for the Gospel.
3. Peter, whose primary mission would remain to the Jews is brought into contact with Gentiles, preaches and witnesses their conversion. He still has lots to learn, wil make mistakes but is humble and willing to listen to the correction of passionate advocates of Gentile mission. He becomes an advocate for the mission.
4. Paul becomes a follower of Jesus. He is not himself a Gentiles, far from it but has a clear calling from God to reach them with the Gospel.
5. The church in Antioch recognises a strategic need to see the Gentiles reached. Antioch is willing to receive people to work with tbem for the Gospel but also to send them on for the mission.
So what about reaching urban Britain.
1. It is God’s work and it may be that the big catalyst will come as he works on our circumstances to move believers and churches into a missional mindset.
2. God is clearly at work bringing people in our estates and inner cities to saving faith. The call for help is already there. Will some hear?
3. What if some pastors were to become like Peter. We are not asking for the to give up on their calling to reach students, graduates, city workers etc but what if they were to become strong advocates for urban mission?
4. I think God is calling people to be like Paul and Barnabas to our estates and inner cities but we need many more.
5. Are some of our churches ready to think in Antioch terms, to have a concern beyond their own immediate context. This isn’t about being large churches. You will have seen my views already on the ” Resource Church” concept. Rather these churches will be willing to accept outside help as Gospel workers come alongside them for a period of time. Those workers will be a encouragement and a help but will also be encouraged, trained, mentored etc. Then the “Antioch” church will be ready to send on and send out, not holding tightly onto people. I think this is really what we are talking about with ActBC
What do you think?