For the past year, the adult education ministry at Crestview trained its focus on the Gospel. Through the lens of the Gospel According to John, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Sermon on the Mount, and James’ Christian Wisdom sermon, we sought to comprehend God’s “Good News” to the cosmos through Jesus Christ. Now, having grasped, in large measure (hopefully), the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the universal impact of Jesus, and the calling Jesus’ gospel makes on us, we turn our attention to the question of what it means to be Gospel people in and for the world.
Luke tackles this question in his second volume about God’s impact on the world in Jesus Christ: the Acts of the Apostles. Our series title, “Inside/Out: The Church on Mission” expresses the central theme of Acts as we watch God by the leading of the Holy Spirit develop and nurture Christian communities and scatter them from “Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” What we see unfolding in Acts is not merely stories of the courage of the earliest Christians, but a perennial calling to contemporary Christians to direct their vision not ever-inward, but always-outward, taking up the calling they will then hear to follow out the mission of God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit for the world.
Along the way, the nature, character and quality of this mission is explored, addressing deeply important contemporary concerns. Luke highlights through Acts the diversity of the Christian community: Jews and Gentiles being bound together, living beyond their ethnic differences; women playing substantial roles in the ministry and growth of the Christian movement; the poor being enfranchised in a way that disrupts ancient, secular ideas about power; and much more. Luke also speaks to the intended unity of the Christian community, reflected in the assumption that churches across the Mediterranean should support the Christians in Jerusalem. And, of course, Acts paints a picture of the Church “on mission” bringing their encounter with Jesus to others so that they take up the commission to follow Jesus Christ.
Our study of Acts will follow another, excellent study guide written by N.T. Wright in concert with frequent writing partner Dale Larsen and his wife, Sandy Larsen. Interspersed throughout our study of Acts, we will break away from the narrative to hear from other voices from the early Church on mission. Pausing along the way to hear from Peter, Paul and John will take us deeper into the story and enrich our perspective on the calling and task of the Christian community. Classes that engage these missionary writings of the apostles will not be “deep dives” into the texts, but readings of these letters with the explication of key themes that tie into Luke’s narrative in Acts.
As with every plan for a year-long study, the following schedule is subject to change based on things that may come up in the life of our Christian community as we are on mission. However, this schedule has been constructed with at least our most common events in mind.
Click here for the complete syllabus that includes the schedule for our study (PDF)