Gospel Shaped Core Values (Overview of Acts 1-2 developing some key core implicit values)

I.     INTRO – Sermon notes from May 8, 2011

A.  Diagnostic weekend – June 9th-12th.

B.  A team of about 7 people will be here to interview as many people from Southside as they can

C.  There will be an all-church meeting on Sun, June 12th where an initial oral report will be presented.

D.  We’ll be asking a lot of you that weekend to come in for an interview and then attend the all-church meeting to participate in the report.

E.  Why study Acts?

  1. Intro Acts Series: The Gospel Chronicles: How God Shapes and Builds the Church.  A Study in the Book of Acts Part 1 – Part 1 (Acts 1-9).
  2. We will be in Acts 1&2 for the next 3 weeks.
  3. In addition to the themes covered in the first few chapters of Acts (that Dana spoke about last week), I can think of at least 3 similarities between Acts 1 and SBF…
  • The Christ followers were a people in transition…as we’ll see, things didn’t turn out the way they expected.
  • In the midst of some anxiety and disappointment, they began to connect the dots and run with a vision they never expected.
  • A relatively few people (120) blossomed into a church that reached its full redemptive purpose.

F.    7 Refocusing questions that we will address here at Southside during this transition season:

  1. Who has God shaped us to be? (Core Values)
  2. Why do we exist as a church? (Biblical Mission)
  3. Where is God leading us in the future? (Fresh Vision)
  4. Whom has God called us to reach? (Ministry Focus)
  5. Which ministry model best facilitates our vision? (Building authentic community)
  6. What ministry goals can we believe God for?
  7. What is our plan for ministry for the next 2-3 years? (Strategic map)

G.    What’s a Core Value?  An enduring belief, a preferred choice.  Core values are the essence of a church’s identity.

  1. Those few, select distinctives that are non-negotiable.
  2. Where is Southside’s God-given potential for greatness?
  3. There is a difference between stated values and practiced values.  Stated values are often religious values that people/churches think they should
    have.  Practiced values are the unique distinctives that a church is actually doing.  Practiced values ask the question, “What are we currently doing that has the potential for greatness?”
  4. There is a difference between implicit values and explicit values.  Implicit values are implied values – while they may be clearly formed or articulated, they are not stated.  Explicit values are definitive and clearly stated.  Churches, with explicit, practiced values know who they are and who they aren’t.  All opportunities for ministry are evaluated in the light of God given values, mission, and vision.

H.   Today we will look at some of the practiced, implicit values that launched the church in Acts.  These implicit values are salted through the first 2 chapters.

I.   We can think of it like a football game – we don’t know what play they called in the huddle, but when they run the play we find out what play was called.

II.   BODY

A.    Implicit Values of Acts (Alternatively known as The Church I Would Join)

1.     They were Kingdom Focused — Acts 1:3 (NAS) “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”  

a.     The Kingdom of God – Quite simply is: The rule and reign of God.

  • The KOG is our destination.
  • Jesus established the Kingdom at his first coming and will consummate the Kingdom at his second coming. Jesus reaches into eternity and pulls it into the present – and stakes it into the ground with the Cross.  “We live in the presence of the future.”  “The already and the not yet.” 
  • As we live in the presence of the future there is paradox (seeming contradiction).  We are saved, but working out our salvation; we are sanctified, yet being sanctified; we are healed yet being healed. It’s both present and future
  • One of the most dynamic aspects of the present reality of the KOG, is that within it is the power that raised Jesus from the dead is made available to us.  The Greek word is dunamis – the same word we get “dynamite” from – and which we find in Acts 1:8. 
  • The Church is the fruit of kingdom activity.
  • The demands of the Kingdom are that we repent; we are to place God first, and follow him at any cost.

b.  Kingdom is a gospel word – along with the Cross and Grace that form a theological construct to help us see the under-girding of the gospel throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation:

  • The Cross – Speaks of the Atoning Work of Jesus Christ
    • This is shorthand for the “5-Fold Christ Event”: 1) Virgin Birth, 2) Miraculous Ministry, 3) Degrading Death, 4) Victorious Resurrection, 5) Missional Ascension of Jesus Christ. 
    • Apart from the atoning work of Christ, we would be forever guilty, ashamed, and condemned before God.
    • The way of God is suffering/humility – and then glory.  This is what baptism is supposed to be about – I will die to my previous life and come alive to God – and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Grace – The unmerited favor of God.  Acceptance is given to us freely at God’s expense.  Martin Luther calls it, “the great exchange.”
    • It’s important that we understand there is common grace and saving grace happens when we take up residence within the KOG.  
    • Definition: All that God is, lavishly poured into you. 
    • Jonathan Edwards speaks of grace as, “the very Holy Ghost dwelling in the soul and acting there as a vital principle.”[1]

2.     They were Humble, Prayerful, & Unified“And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying…14These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”   Acts 1:13, 14 (NAS)

a.     Humble prayers of confession and repentance before/with God and one another.

b.     Corporate prayer leading to intercession – reminding the Lord of His word/promises.

c.     Unity is a fruit, not a goal

3.     They were Holy Spirit Empowered

1:4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5forJohn baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

2:1,4And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

a.     John 4:24 — God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

b.     Eph 5:17-21 –  17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, [we apparently need to be continually, or regularly, filled with the HS – Why?  Because we leak!]

19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

21and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

    c.  Two points

  • (Jn) We are to seek to live in the healthy tension of spirit and truth.
  • (Eph) HS infilling occurs when our hearts are worshipful, when we are grateful, and we walk in mutual submission.

d.  John Piper: “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” (Supremacy of God In Missions)

4.  They delivered Contextualized Gospel Presentations16No! What you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel”   Acts 2:15,16 (TLB)

5.  They engaged in Honest/Straightforward Gospel Presentations – Acts 2:23, 36…

23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.”

6.  They were Outward Focused (Missional)“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”   Acts 2:41 (NIV)

a.     There is a missional refocusing going on in the Church today.
b.     We are all called to be missionaries.  The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit send us.
c.     Changing metrics…

7.     They were Intentional About Discipleship and Authentic Community (They lived Community in the context of Discipleship) – Acts 2:42-47

And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  44And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common;  45and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  46And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

8.     As a result of living out these values – they were Fruitful

a.     “A sense of awe,” or a healthy fear of the Lord (v.43)

b.     Wonders & signs (v.43)

c.     Community (vs.44-47)

  • Identification
  • Equality
  • Unity
  • Enthusiastic joy
  • Praise
  • Favor with all the people
  • Salvation’s (v.47)

III. CONCLUSION

A.   What does it mean to be Gospel centered? (Or, Christ centered?)

B.    My experience is that the North American Church has lost, or squandered, much of the power – and the breadth of the Gospel.

  1. I have been reminded recently that the Gospel is not advice – it is news.  It is, in fact, the ultimate Good News. Sunday mornings are not the place to give advice.
  2. Gospel-centered ministry is rooted in remembrance.  On Sunday mornings we are to remind one another primarily of what Jesus Christ has done, not what we must do.

C.    Many of us have tended to view the Gospel a message that we responded to many years ago – and then moved on from.  Yet the Gospel is more like an ocean.  It is deep, and wide, and vast.

  1. We are called to view, and engage, and respond to the gospel with every passage of Scripture we read, or study.
  2. I would suggest that the essence of Christian maturity is when the Gospel itself gets worked in – and through our lives.
  3. Here is my goal for you – and for Southside: My aim is that you would experience Jesus (my goal for you is experiential) as the sovereign, risen, living, Lord of the universe – and as the source and the content of your real hope and joy. Two things are necessary:
  • God’s liberating truth
  • God’s liberating grace.

4.  What is the evidence of salvation?

  • Fruitfulness
  • What is your deepest desire?
  • True Christians have conflicted desires to be sure.  True Christians struggle, and sin, and mess up – to be sure. Yet, the deepest desire of the true Christian is for Jesus and the unfolding of the gospel.
  • Non-Christians – and you could say false Christians also have conflicted desires, yet their deepest desire is for themselves, or for ease, or comfort – something other than the person of Jesus Christ.  (The simplest definition of idolatry is making a good thing an ultimate thing.)

Next week: Persistent and Passionate Prayer (Acts 1: 13-14).


[1] Jonathan Edwards, TREATISE ON GRACE.

The Missional Reorientation of the Church

I was recently a part of a diagnostic team that conducted an in-depth analysis of a church on the east coast. One of the important recommendations is for them to turn outward in some fresh new ways. The following article will be included in the final report as an appendix resource…

Missional means adopting the posture of a missionary, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound. (from Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer)

For the church, the concept of maintenance is the one-word summary of the Christendom church paradigm that has been in place for some 1,710 years since Constantine became Roman emperor[1]and made Christianity the “state religion.” In Western Christendom, the church existed in a friendly environment and occupied the seat of influence, if not power. Today the church has been marginalized, pushed to the edge of western society.[2] The good news for us as 21st century followers of Christ is that God inspired marginalized people to write the Bible to other marginalized people. This is key, and holds great promise and adventure for us in these days ahead.

Intentionally moving from maintenance mode to missional mode involves a theological reorientation that proactively shifts from an ecclesiocentric[3] understanding of mission to a theocentric[4] reconceptualization of Christian mission.[5] In other words, the church becomes the fruit of missional activity, not the goal. As this new paradigm forms, a radical shift begins as missional praxis (practice) takes on fresh perspective. In this sense missional praxis includes missions–and much more. It brings together evangelism and social action and invites every member of the church to contextualize the gospel of Jesus Christ into the subcultures where our lives are spent beyond the church property – neighborhoods, extended family, the workplace, clubs, and other social groupings. Every member becomes a missionary.

The mission of the church, according to the late missiologist Lesslie Newbigin, is not merely an interpretation of history; it is a history making force.[6] Newbigin also noted, that the real challenge for Christianity is the conversion of a culture. During the Enlightenment there was a shift in the location of reliable truth from the story told in the Bible to the “eternal truths of reason,”[7] of which the mathematical physics of Newton offered the supreme model. These “eternal truths of reason,” required no faith and doubted everything except what could be measured and proved.

This emerging missional perspective is further enhanced by author and professor Charles Van Engen’s definition of mission, “God’s mission works primarily through the people of God as they intentionally cross barriers from Church to non-church, faith to non-faith, to proclaim by word and deed the coming of God in Jesus Christ.”[8]

Each local church becomes a missional community described as the pilgrim people of God who are on a journey towards the fullness of the reign of God.[9] Missional communities of faith no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point with those outside the community (of faith). Connecting with those outside happens during the week with those whom God has sovereignly placed in our lives within the various sub-cultures of our own local community. As we personally and authentically engage Christ – and then listen to, serve, love, and share the gospel with those around us, we act as missionaries to our culture.

As churches see their present community as a mission field. Leadership of a mission outpost is practiced with faithfulness and on-going compassion, knowing that for many years to come it will remain a mission outpost. It does not have the goal of becoming a churched-culture local church. The spirit of a mission outpost is one of mission, whereas the spirit of a churched-culture local church is one of maintenance focused on membership vs. salvation, maintenance vs. societal outreach, and dollars vs. meeting specific human hurts and hopes.[10]

Most traditional mission sending agencies in North America and Europe have, in general, failed to recognize that the most urgent contemporary mission field can now be found in our own back yards, and that the most aggressive paganism with which we have to engage is the ideology that now controls the “developed” world.[11]

The entire Bible is to be viewed as a “manual in mission,” or as one missiologist has said, “There is only one scriptural symbol that corresponds to the question of the dynamic and functional relation of the Church to the world. That symbol is mission.”[12] Finally, Van Engen also suggests that leadership effectiveness, as we move toward a missional praxis mindset, need not be measured by accomplishments, but how God’s people are equipped, empowered, inspired, and organized to participate with God’s mission.[13]

Congregations should no longer expect the community to exclusively come to us.  The Great Commission (Mat. 28:18-20) calls us to go.  There is a difference between a go ye church and a come ye church. Local missional praxis ministry involves the people of God crossing barriers to serve the other.  For congregations with well cared for facilities, mix missional outreach with ministries that go off-campus as well as workshops and classes that showcase the campus.

In measuring its effectiveness, the maintenance congregation asks, “How many visitors have we attracted?” The missional praxis congregation asks, “How many members have we sent?”

Unchurched adults interested in finding a congregation aren’t nearly as likely to visit one in person as a churched person who is shopping for a new congregation. This means effective evangelism must begin outside the church building in relationships between Christians and unbelievers, according to research the attractional model of Church (come ye) generally attracts transfer growth, while a missional model of Church (go ye) generally attracts a higher conversion growth percentage. It’s not either-or, but both-and.


[1] Ogden, Greg. Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry To the People of God. Zondervan, Rev. 2003.

[2] A primary reason for this is that the church has lost much of its moral authority due to imposing a “Christian” moralism without gospel-changed hearts, which often led to cruelty, hypocrisy, and the abuse of power and authority.

[3] Or, church-centered.

[4] To God-centered.

[5] Guder, Darrell L., and Lois Barrett. Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1998:4.

[6] Newbigin, Lesslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1989: 131.

[7] Newbigin, Lesslie. Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship, Eerdmans 1995:73.

[8] Fuller Theological Seminary: MP502, Lecture 1.

[9] Guder: 204

[10] Freeman, Robert E., Fuller Theological Seminary: ML525 Leadership Selection and Training in the Info-Tech Age. Lesson 1 — PARADIGMS OF ADULT TRAINING IN MISSION.

[11] Newbigin, Lesslie. The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission (Revised). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995:10.

[12] Bosch, David J. The Why and How of a True Biblical Foundation for Mission. Reprinted as Hermeneutical Principles in the Biblical Foundation for Mission, Evangelical Review of Theology 17(4): 437-451, Oct. 1993.

[13] Van Engen, Charles. God’s Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1991: 176.