By: Mark Wilson
The book of Acts is full of stories about how Jesus’ disciples and Paul built and grew the early church. The best practices that were employed in the first century can still be effective as we continue to share the gospel today. Here are four “hacks” from the book of Acts.
- Don’t neglect your base. After the Apostles were anointed with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they shared Jesus with their Jewish neighbors in the synagogues and at The Temple. When Paul and his fellow missionaries traveled to a new city, they would go to the synagogue first to share the Gospel with their fellow Jews first. These were their people who shared the same customs, traditions, and beliefs. Who are the people in your community? What are their customs and beliefs? Get to know your neighbors, it’s always smart to start with your base.
- There are more Gentiles out there. The Apostles and Paul quickly learned that their teachings about Jesus weren’t popular with the majority of their Jewish neighbors. After several imprisonments, beatings, and near-death experiences, the early church leaders came to the conclusion that Jesus really meant to share His story with everyone. Unfortunately, they started the tradition that it takes a huge church conference to do the right thing in the church, but they did figure out how the Gentiles could follow Jesus. What is the culture in your congregation for accepting unchurched folks? How guest friendly is your church experience? Are your people willing to really be open to broken folks in your church?
- Go where “they” are and stay awhile. Paul traveled all over Asia sharing Jesus and starting churches in the major cities. He wasn’t like a church consultant that comes in and spends a day with your staff 3x a year, he planted himself in the community. He preached in Corinth for a year and half (Acts 18:11) and he mentored the leaders in Ephesus for two years (Acts 19:10). He invested time to build relationships and a strong foundation in these two churches and others as well. Is your church capable of investing long-term in reaching people in your city? Can you be consistent, persistent, and effective like Paul and his team?
- Teach them and send them out. Paul was brought up in the rabbinical system that was designed to teach the next generation of teachers. He used this experience and skill set to teach and encourage the leaders of the new churches he was starting all over Asia. A great example of his students taking the mantle and teaching was Priscilla and Aquila mentoring a young Apollos in Acts 18:24-26. Is your church equipped to develop disciples and mentor new teachers? Do you have a process to identify, train, and deploy leaders throughout your church?
Most church people lament the lack of resources to be vital congregations or they lay all the responsibility for outreach and discipleship on the staff. Our job as leaders is help our people embrace their responsibility to find their place in the Acts model for the church. Jesus is ready to unleash the Spirit in your community, are you?