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View Lessons in Church Planting from the Book of Acts

Lessons in Church Planting from the Book of Acts

Mike Brown, Director of Church Planting
Northwest Conference ECC

This simple study of the book of Acts doesn’t require you to purchase any study guides, it simply requires a Bible for everyone.  Each week as you approach the text, the key question to answer is: What lessons are there in this passage about growing a healthy church and being the church? 

An effective way to structure this study is to break the large group up into groups of 3-4 people and have them read the text out loud in their group.  Assign one in each group to write down the observations of the group.  Assign another individual to be the spokesperson for each small group.  After the group has spent time with the text bring the whole group back together and have each group share their insights with the whole group, allowing time to discuss each one as it’s shared. 

     
Week 1: Acts 2:1-4, 42-47, The Beginning of the Church

Insights:

  • They all met together in one place.
  • They waited on God.
  • They operated under the power of the H.S.
  • The church trained and educated its members (v42)
  • The church brought its members together constantly (46)
  • The church moved members into relationships of mutual support and fellowship (44a, and 42b)
  • The church practiced the sacrament of communion constantly.  (42 & 46)
  • The church spent a great deal of time in group prayer (42d)
  • The church practiced radical stewardship, economic sharing, and “compassion and justice ministry” within the community (45)
  • There were works of power which accompanied the preaching of the truth. (43)
  • There was a general spirit of joy (46) and praise (47a) that permeated every level of the community.
  • The church was evangelistically focused and effective.  (47)
  • Conversions were not seen as an individual thing.  “People were added to the number of those being saved.”  (47)
  • They focused on ministries of learning, “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching”, there was a ministry of fellowship, “they devoted themselves to the fellowship”; there was a ministry of worship, “They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”  And they had a ministry of witness through works and words, “daily conversions, everyone’s needs were met, etc.”
  • The early church, through those ministries developed disciples with theological depth, intimate relationships, who were joyful worshippers, persistent and consistent evangelists, and who served sacrificially.

Questions:

  1. How can we create a greater sense of community?
  2. The passage says that they waited on God.  What does that mean for this church family?
  3. What can we do to insure that teaching, worship, fellowship, service, and evangelism all happen in our church?
  4. How will evangelism become a normal, natural part of our new church?
  5. What are we doing or putting in place to make prayer a part of everything we do?
  6. How can we balance the need for small group gatherings and the need to gather in a large group for worship?
  7. What does a conscious dependence on the H.S. look like for a church family?
  8. When do you think ministries of compassion, mercy and justice should begin in this new church?
  9. Whose responsibility is it for these things to happen?
  10. What does radical stewardship look like for us?


Week 2:  Acts 4:8-15, 27-30, Proclaiming the Gospel

Insights:

  • The disciples spoke the truth with respect.
  • The message was contextualized so the listeners would be able to understand.
  • They preached and spoke with boldness.
  • They were ordinary men.
  • They used God’s Word to explain the truth.
  • People were amazed at the boldness and the H.S. ability they exhibited.
  • When threatened, they didn’t cower, but prayed for more boldness.
  • They were not afraid to speak out for Christ.
  • They asked God for miracles to be done, for signs and wonders to happen, and for the Word to be preached with confidence.
  • God answered their prayer with a show of His power.

Questions:

  1. What do we need to do to contextualize the message?
  2. Where would we need to go in our community to bring the truth of God’s word to people who haven’t heard it?
  3. How would we specifically behave if we had that same boldness?  What would we do differently than we’re doing now?
  4. What miracles have we specifically been asking God to do in our midst?
  5. What does it mean to live with that kind of expectancy?
  6. What evidence is there in our lives that, “these people have been with Jesus?” 


Week 3: Acts 6:1-7, Chosen to Serve

Insights:

  • Even the early church had its problems.  There was “conflict and grumbling.”
  • There were cultural and ethnic disconnects and issues.
  • Growth brought structural issues and leadership issues.
  • They recognized the need to delegate.
  • They expressed leadership.
  • Those leaders knew their priorities.  (Word/Prayer)
  • They led by calling a meeting and getting a consensus.
  • They organized around their gifting.
  • Leaders led.
  • They appointed those who were Spirit filled and faithful.
  • There was a radical minimum standard, “those who were full of the Spirit and wisdom.” 
  • They prayerfully chose those who would lead, empowered them and released them.
  • God’s Word continued to spread because of good polity.

Questions:

  1. What cultural or ethnic disconnects and issues are we facing?
  2. Is there anything in the way we’re structured that could lead to leadership issues?
  3. How are we going to empower people for ministry?
  4. What role will prayer play in how we release people to serve?
  5. What should we be doing to better meet needs and reach people for Jesus?
  6. Are there any problems at this point that we need to discuss and pray about?


Week 4:  Acts 11: 19-26, Sending Out

Insights:

  • The church went out to all the nearby communities.
  • They experienced persecution.
  • They preached wherever they went.
  • They brought God’s Word to everyone they encountered.
  • God’s power and presence were behind everything they did.
  • The were given a new name and a new identity.
  • Their boldness was rewarded with people coming to know Christ.
  • The church sent its best out to help as a missionary—“filled with the Holy Spirit and strength in his faith.” 
  • They released apostolic leadership.
  • They invested in the church through a year of teaching and preaching.
  • Crowds gathered to hear faithful teaching.

Questions:

  1. Where is God calling us to go?
  2. How can we faithfully communicate Christ at all times?
  3. What would it mean for us to be bold in bringing Christ to this community?
  4. Who among us is God preparing so that we can send them out to start another new church?  How can we help the church prepare for that?
  5. What would it mean to release the most gifted among us?  What anxieties does that cause when you think about it? 
  6. If we’re not impacting our community what do we need to do to see people coming to know Jesus and growing in relationship?
  7. What does “apostolic leadership” look like?
  8. What barriers does this church need to break down so that everyone hears the Good News?


Week 5:  13: 1-5, The Holy Spirit

Insights:

  • The early church was ethnically diverse.
  • They were culturally, economically, and sociologically diverse.
  • The church worshiped the Lord daily.
  • The church took time to fast regularly.
  • The H.S. spoke to the church and they heard.
  • The H.S. set apart those for specific tasks.
  • They heard from the H.S. while they were worshiping and reading the Word of God.
  • Their vision came directly from the H.S.
  • They received specific direction and vision for their ministry.
  • God sent out their best to do mission work.
  • After the H.S. spoke to them they fasted and prayed some more.
  • They commissioned their people by laying on hands and then sent them out.
  • The H.S. appointed helpers to assist the leaders who were chosen.

Questions:

  1. What can we do to reach people who are not like us ethnically?
  2. What barriers exist that we need to break sociologically, economically, and culturally?
  3. How do we break those barriers?
  4. Who is God telling us we need to reach?
  5. What can we do to make sure we clearly hear the H.S.?
  6. What specific vision or direction are we being given by the H.S. at this time?
  7. What can we do to help people better understand fasting and prayer?
  8. How can we help this growing group to “worship daily”?
  9. Who do we need to commission and send out?  What might that cost us?


Week 6:  Acts 16: 1-5, Paul and Young Timothy

Insights:

  • Paul traveled throughout the area to bring the Gospel.
  • Paul talked with the believers to see who God was raising up.
  • Paul took Timothy under his wing to train and equip him.
  • There is a spiritual heritage to faith.
  • Paul chose someone with a good reputation, with good references.
  • Mentoring happened as they shared ministry together.
  • Paul contextualized the ministry so that the Jews might receive it.
  • They reminded the church about the need to be obedient to those in authority.
  • The churches were strengthened by their affiliation with the Jerusalem church.
  • The church continued to grow.

Questions:

  1. What will need to happen to bring the message of Christ to our ministry area?
  2. How can we identify those whom “God is raising up”?
  3. Who is God laying on your heart to mentor?  Who is your Timothy?
  4. Paul contextualized the ministry…What does that mean for us in our community?
  5. Who in our context do we need to respect and be “obedient to their authority”?  Why is that important?
  6. What does our connection with the Evangelical Covenant Church mean?
  7. What’s the value of being connected with a denomination?
  8. What does growth mean for the church?  What might it not mean?


Week 7: Acts 16:6-15, Macedonia

Insights:

  • They listened to the leading of the H.S.
  • They went where God sent them.
  • They moved quickly.
  • Know the areas where God has called you to do ministry.
  • They took God’s Word to the people.
  • They prayed and asked God for their next steps.
  • They avoided those areas where God hadn’t yet opened the door.
  • They tried things and not all of them worked, but they received clarifying vision while they were doing ministry.
  • Find a Lydia…someone who is open, teachable, welcoming, and build on that.
  • Go where the people already gather.
  • Trust that God will open a heart to hear the truth.
  • God is no respecter of persons…He calls men and women of all races and nationalities to be leaders in His church.
  • Extend an invitation to follow Jesus. 
  • Baptize those who come to faith.
  • New community follows our faithfulness.
  • Allow those whom God has blessed to be a blessing to you as you do ministry.
  • Trust that God will raise up Lydia’s in your context.

Questions:

  1. How well do we know the area we’re called to minister to.
  2. Who lives in the neighborhoods around us?
  3. Where might the H.S. be leading us to go that we haven’t yet been?
  4. Where might the H.S. be telling us to avoid at this time?
  5. Where do people gather in our community?
  6. How can we share the Good News in those places?
  7. What will we do with those who come to know Jesus?
  8. Who are the Lydia’s that God may use to bless this new church?
  9. How will we find them?
  10. How can we clearly extend an invitation to people to enter into a relationship with Jesus?


Week 8:  Acts 17: 18-23, Paul in Athens

Insights:

  • Paul engaged those who were questioning life, the thinkers and philosophers of the day.
  • He engaged them on their turf and they wanted to hear more.
  • Paul engaged the Athenians by beginning where they were spiritually.
  • He used what was at hand as a point of connection.
  • He acknowledged their spiritual seeking.
  • Paul clearly preached Jesus and the resurrection.
  • Paul was Biblical, he was faithful, and he spoke in a way that this group could grasp.
  • He bridged the cultural and societal gap.
  • Every situation was an opportunity to talk about Jesus.

Questions:

  1. Who are the gate keepers, or influential thinkers we need to reach?
  2. Where do they hang-out?  What implications does that have for us?
  3. Assuming most of our society doesn’t know anything about Jesus…How can we communicate with them in a way they will understand?
  4. What tools are available to help us bridge the gap and begin a conversation?
  5. What group is God calling us to engage in spiritual conversation?
  6. How can we engage them without offending or alienating them?
  7. What are the cultural and societal gaps that separate the church from society today?
  8. How should we handle the possibility of rejection or mocking when we talk about Jesus? 


Week 9:  Acts 18: 1-11, Paul in Corinth

Insights:

  • Paul worked bi-vocationally when it was necessary.
  • Nothing would stop Paul from preaching the Gospel…certainly not financial issues.
  • Paul’s main vocation was always to preach Jesus each and every day at every opportunity.
  • When he was opposed, Paul knew when it was time to move on.
  • Paul heard regularly from God and many believed as he preached faithfully each day.
  • Paul’s boldness was because of his conscious dependence on God and God’s ability to protect him.
  • Paul stayed and planted a church where God allowed and where people were receptive. 
  • Paul found affinity with various groups as he traveled.
  • Paul regularly expected people to believe, be baptized, and be filled with the H.S.
  • Paul had a clear vision of what God had created him to do.

Questions:

  1. What sacrifices are we willing to make to guarantee that the Gospel is communicated?
  2. Who has God placed in our path so that we can fulfill our call.
  3. What does it mean to hear God regularly and respond?  How can we know its God’s voice we’re hearing? 
  4. What is God’s will for his people?
  5. What are our priorities each day? 
  6. What things get in the way of our daily sharing Christ?
  7. How do you know when to “move on” when trying to share the Good News with someone?
  8. If we planted churches like Paul, what might that look like?
  9. What would you have to let go in order to be able to respond every time the H.S. wanted to use you?


Week 10:  Acts 18: 23-28, Apollos

Insights:

  • Paul kept in contact with new converts, realizing they needed to be discipled.
  • The church identified new, emerging leaders.
  • They trained those new leaders to faithfully serve.
  • They empowered new leaders to share the ministry.
  • They encouraged those new leaders to listen to what God was placing on their hearts.
  • They paved the way for those new leaders by endorsing them with the existing churches.
  • Apollos spoke boldly and with God’s power. 
  • The church recognized God’s gift in people and graciously corrected when needed.
  • To make an impact we need a balance of the H.S. power and knowledge.
  • The church knew it needed to multiply its ministry so they were always looking for and releasing new leaders.
  • New converts are often able to speak about their faith with great passion, even when they don’t have all the details.
  • Apollos knew the Scriptures and used them to fully explain Jesus.

Questions:

  1. What does it mean to make disciples?
  2. How are we going to disciple those who come to know Jesus?
  3. Who are you personally grooming and mentoring to send out?
  4. What process will we use to identify leaders?
  5. How will this church intentionally prepare and equip new leaders?
  6. What are the essential things that Christians need to know to share their faith?
  7. What role should those who’ve just come to faith have in the church?
  8. What about those who are simply exploring the faith?
  9. How do we pave the way for those who go out from our church to other churches?
  10. How can we teach people to hear and respond to what God is calling them to do?


Week 11:  Acts 19:11-22, Paul and Miracles

Insights:

  • God gifted the apostles and disciples to do miracles.  It was God power working through the hands of His people.
  • The church had unique power and others tried to counterfeit it.
  • Even evil spirits are subject to the power of God.
  • You better be prepared for spiritual warfare or you’re in big trouble.
  • When a spiritual battle is being fought, lives are going to be changed.
  • God revealed His power and many were in awe.
  • A holy fear came over the people and conviction spread.
  • People were delivered from their oppressions and possessions.
  • Confession happened.
  • Jesus was honored and lifted up.
  • There was repentance and instant life change.
  • When repentance happens God’s word will “prevail and increase mightily.” 
  • The first step in life change is to work on the heart.
  • Paul’s decisions were made as the Spirit directed in his heart.
  • Paul continued on his mission of spreading the Gospel.
  • Paul had invested in younger leaders and entrusted them to go out and represent the church. 
  • Paul multiplied his ministry through mentoring.

Questions:

  1. What has God gifted you to do that could change lives?
  2. How do you think the church would respond if God’s power was evident in the way the Bible is describing it here?
  3. Why don’t we see much evidence of God’s power in the church today?
  4. Since God’s power is still available to the church today, what counterfeits can you identify in our world?
  5. Describe a time when you witnessed God’s power on display.  What was your reaction?  What was the reaction of those around you?
  6. What would it take today for people to give up their “idols” and reject evil?
  7. What can we do to prepare for the spiritual warfare that happens when we stand for Christ?
  8. Few people have valuable books on sorcery lying around.  What are the modern day equivalents of those scrolls?
  9. What does it mean to repent?  What evidence is there that this has happened in someone’s life?
  10. What is God calling you to do for Him at this time?
  11. Who are you preparing to eventually take your place or multiply your ministry?


Week 12:  Acts 20: 17-32, Paul and the Church Leaders

Insights:

  • Paul spoke truth to the leaders in the church.
  • He reminded them of the faithfulness that was necessary.
  • He recommended himself to them by reminding them of his faithfulness.
  • Paul taught by example.
  • He reminded them of the core of his message.
  • He shared his call to continue on toward his “Rome”.
  • Even knowing that suffering lay ahead, Paul pressed on.
  • Paul was willing to lay his life down for the Gospel.
  • Paul finished well.
  • Paul invested his life carefully in Jesus and in others.
  • Paul never held back teaching everything that was profitable for people to know.
  • Paul taught the whole counsel of God.
  • Paul never took the role of “overseer” or “apostle” lightly.
  • Paul knew that the point of his life was to represent Jesus wherever he went.
  • Paul had a clear conscience knowing that he had done all God had asked him to do.
  • Paul saw and grasped the purpose and reason for his life.

Questions:

  1. What does it mean to speak truth to one another?
  2. Why do you think Paul gave this little speech to the leaders of the church?
  3. What purpose did it serve for Paul to list his resume of ministry and faithfulness?
  4. What is the core message of the Gospel?
  5. What would you be willing to endure for the sake of the Gospel if you knew it was coming?
  6. How can we invest our lives in others?
  7. What does it mean to finish well in life?
  8. What responsibilities come with being a leader in the church?
  9. What are the most effective ways to constantly communicate Jesus in our lives?
  10. What is the purpose and reason for your life?
  11. If you are totally committed to Christ, what is it going to cost you?

 


Category:Phase 1 - Launch Team Development

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