“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Welcome to 2020: The Year of Mission. Our focus this year will be on the Mission of God. God has a mission, and God’s mission has a church. In Scripture, we encounter the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) working to restore and renew all things. The Bible begins with creation and ends with the promise of a new creation. The Triune God is working to renew everyone and everything and invites us to participate. The mission of the Northwestern Ohio Synod is a participatory mission: Sent by the Crucified and Risen Jesus to Make Disciples, Equip Leaders, Strengthen Parishes, and Launch New Communities for the Renewal of Northwestern Ohio and the World.
The faith community that formed out of the Jesus Movement was formed to be a “Sent Church”. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). No sitting still for those early followers of Jesus. They had the power of the Holy Spirit and a commission for mission.
On Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit arrives in spectacular fashion, and descends on the gathered community of Jesus followers. The Holy Spirit empowers this community to boldly and courageously proclaim the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, these “witnesses” are led to share the Gospel in sequential and ever widening circles. This spread of the Gospel is both geographic (from Jerusalem to Rome), and ethnic (from Jews to Gentiles).
As Jesus stated in Acts 1:8, the Gospel will first be shared in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7), through the witness of Peter, John, and Stephen, the first Christian martyr. From Jerusalem, the Gospel will spread into all Judea and Samaria (Acts 8-12), through the witness of Philip, Peter, and a newly converted Saul. The third and final phase of the Book of Acts will trace the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 13-28), through three “witness trips” (mission trips) of the Apostle Paul and his traveling companions. The Book of Acts concludes in the capital city of the Roman Empire, with the Apostle Paul preaching and teaching “…with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31b).
The Book of Acts highlights the characteristics of a “Sent Church”, which is why I have selected Acts to be to our Bible “Book of the Year”. I have written a Bible study on the Book of Acts to help you learn more about the early Church and its commitment to the mission of Jesus.
Please click on the links below to access a 6-session Bible study on the Book of Acts. We have produced both a Leader’s Guide and a Student’s Guide. This Bible study is a great resource to use through the forty days of Lent or during the fifty-day Season of Easter. But as I’ve shared before, be careful. Be very, very careful, because God’s Word has the power to transform people and communities from who we are into the people and communities that God longs for us to be.
During 2020: The Year of Mission, we will aspire to fully participate in God’s Mission through three distinct practices:
- To discern the Mission of God through prayer, Scripture, and conversation with the community;
- To align the identity and work of God’s people and parishes with the Mission of God;
- To participate in the Mission of God for the renewal of Northwestern Ohio and the world.
Monthly Leadership Devotionals
As we will learn through this year, it takes brave and courageous leaders to understand, respond to and join God’s mission of loving and serving God, our communities, our co-workers in the faith, and ourselves.
Twelve spiritual leaders of this synod have written a devotion that can be used to begin meetings, Church Council or other gatherings, conversations with co-workers, teams and/or bible study groups. Each Devotion is based upon a story or verse found in this year’s Bible Book of the Year, Acts AND each devotion highlights a C-Characteristic which has been identified as essential for strong, responsive and effective leadership.