Hey there disciple!
This past week we finished up the last chapter in our Bible study series covering the book of Acts called “Fathom.” This week we heard about “Who will lead them” from the story of the early Church’s leadership transition described in Acts 20. Without leaders who sacrificially serve their communities the Church will not have the impact God desires. That was true 2000 years ago, and it is true today. Each day will not likely take more than 15 minutes. Stay faithful, for God Who blesses you is faithful.
Looking forward to connecting with you again on Wed January 27, 7pm (see text for conference call info).
God bless you little brothers and sisters.
BCAN Theme 2021: Jesus Our Savior, LORD, and Example
Paul calls Church leaders from Ephesus together to receive final words of encouragement. Paul advises that he is unmoved by threats and opposition to his ministry. Hearing from a leader who is facing trials and yet is unwavering can be inspirational. Yet Paul also wants to instruct the leaders of the early Church to be ready to take on the challenges of further spreading and growing the Body of Christ.
Read Acts 20:17-24as background on how Paul continued the process of leadership transition from himself to the future servant-leading shepherds.
Note: From the perspective of those Ephesian Church leaders these words were like Paul’s bidding them farewell before his eventual death. We treat a person’s last words as precious. We listen carefully. If we love them, then we try to follow their guidance.
What is the first time you recall being really left on your own (e.g., parents went out for a date and left you alone in the house)? What made your parents comfortable leaving you alone? What were some emotions you had while you were alone?
How do you think the early Church leaders of Ephesus were chosen? How do you think these leaders felt as they were listening to Paul say these parting words to them?
Paul continues sharing his final words with some depressing news. Yet, Paul is confident that he has planted seeds of grace in the lives of the early Church disciples.
Read Acts 20:25-27as a description of Paul “keeping it real” with the early Church leaders. He acknowledges the challenges he will face in the future, while also stating he has held nothing back from them. Paul has given his all for the gospel!
What do you think Paul means by “I am innocent of the blood of any of you” in verse 26?
What do you think it will feel like when your parents start relying on you more than you rely upon them?
What do you think it will feel like when the older folks in Church start relying on your more than you rely upon them?
Many faithful leaders would be needed to watch over the “flock” (i.e., disciples in the Church). Wolves would indeed come into the Church to attempt to break up the Church, but God would build the Church up through His mighty power and grace.
Read Acts 20:28-32as background on Paul’s words of caution to the Church. He was concerned at this point not so much about the forces of society or “the culture” as much as those who would appear on the surface to be taking God’s side, but in reality were just prideful and power hungry.
Note: We have nearly 2000 years of history to see the warnings Paul gave to the early Church come to pass. Time and again prideful wolves have invaded the Church for selfish gain. They have led some Christians away with promises of quick blessings or greater access to those in power. They have twisted the words of Scripture to spark division and a focus on material things. Despite the danger, disciples still needed to get out and risk their own well being. If disciples did not face the challenge of wolves (and other threats) then the Church would not grow – it would fade away.
What are some problems you have seen in the Church today (in general or in BCAN in particular)?
What are one or two possible solutions to these problems?
What are some things you really find enjoyable or uplifting about BCAN that you hope do not change in the future?
Oh Lord, God of all nations, thank You for the early Church and those leaders who kept others from going astray and following after wolves. Thank You for the faithful now who follow You even when it is dangerous to do so. Forgive us for the divisions we have caused in the Church. Please help me understand my role in the Church today. Help me understand how you want me to help the next generation get to be more like Jesus Christ and not be led astray. I pray you would reveal to me those in my life right now who I need to show the love of Jesus Christ – especially those who I have strong disagreements with. Help me find common ground with them in some way so a bridge can be built and we can see from each other’s perspective. Lord, help us be ministers of reconciliation in our Church and in our community. Your kingdom come, Your will be done. In Jesus’ name. Amen.