Have you ever asked what type of leadership for our generation will be needed to be a witness in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)? That is what Jesus told the apostles just before he ascended right?
I think about this conversation often. What does it mean to be a witness to be his witness? What is being done to be a witness to Christ? I am certain that the world will never know the real Jesus if we continue to meet within the four walls of our corner churches waiting and hoping people will come to hear the message. I’ve attended a lot of churches over my lifetime. They all claim some form of witnessing to Christ and making him known.
Unfortunately, most sit quietly in their church buildings with no activity to make him known. Attending a quiet service on Sunday mornings and perhaps on Wed nights is about the extent of it. Occasionally, a nice family will take up membership and everyone welcomes them with warm greetings and a potluck. Then it is back to business as usual.
In order to reach the world, aka “the ends of the earth”, it will require an effort greater than most have seen in their local congregations. It will take leadership and vision to ensure that the four corners are reached. It will take massive effort and sacrifice beyond what is commonly acceptable in our western churches.
Every generation faces the same challenges. Who is Jesus? What is the real gospel message and the resurrection story that the apostles and first century disciples died to share with the world? What type of leadership was required?
In the first century, the Jewish and Roman people wanted to kill the disciples of Christ for their audacious style of preaching about the resurrection. Without a bold faith to continue proclaiming the Gospel when warned to stop, you and I would not be here today. The disciples were warned to stop and yet they prayed all the more earnestly, “Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your world with great boldness.” (Acts 4:29) As they finished, the Holy Spirit filled them and they “spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31)
When the disciples were together, they were “one in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32). If the effort to reach the world in our generation is to be accomplished, it must be done with a unified spirit. The idea that churches in cities around the world are divided in their own little missions is an un-biblical approach to the mission. How many churches are right across the street from one another and don’t know each other? How many churches share the same building on Sundays? How many “christians” work together and play together yet have nothing to do with one another outside of worldly affairs? Jesus prayed that the disciples would be one as he and the father were one (Jn 17), and yet, 21st Century Christianity is splintered and divided.
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…For from time to time, those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need” (Acts 4:33-35). The disciples in the first century sacrificed their own kingdoms to build the kingdom of God making sure there were no needy people among them. That took massive amounts of sacrifice.
What would you say today? Would you say that your leadership is Bold? Is your leadership unified or splintered? Is your leadership sacrificial? Without these three qualities, it will be difficult if not impossible to spread the Gospel of Christ as His witness to this lost and hurting world.