All Planters of the Gospel

By Shannon Youell

Planting the Gospel helps give us definition in ways followers of Jesus are all called to participate with God in His mission to the world. Rather than opting out because we already belong to and/or minister in an existing congregation, take time to listen to the Spirit for ways your particular community can join God at work in seeding and harvesting new places and spaces for faith to be discovered and grow. 

At CBWC Church Planting we are always engaging with creative ways your local church community can join in the Planting the Gospel from intentional, relational discipleship within your own community to engaging with the people in your neighbourhood and joining them in fulfilling the values and dreams of a healthy and flourishing greater community. 

For inspiration of a few of the ways you can start participating with us and for some of the ways We Are Better Together, by watching this entertaining video by our own Cailey, which premiered at NMO recently.   

Connect with us on how we can start you or help facilitate your journey towards developing fresh expressions and intentional implementation of the Gospel right where you live, work, play and pray.

Ash Wednesday Reflection: Becoming a Prayer Pupil

By Cailey Morgan

It’s been such a joy to participate for the past several weeks in the Orienting to God collective prayer series with CBWC churches. I believe that prayer is the most important way we can spend our time, so I am grateful to be invited into rhythms that foster both corporate and personal prayer. And now, as today is Ash Wednesday, we are given an opportunity to again engage in shared practices with congregations all around the world. 

Perhaps Lent is a good time to reflect on the tools that have been helpful in deepening our prayer lives in the past, and also look to how we will order our future in a way that prioritizes communion with God. 

Mentors in Prayer 
As a young teen, I was introduced to the practice of journaling by Linda, a youth leader who found deep connection with God through the physical method of writing to process her experiences and formulate her prayers. She showed me her journal and talked about what the process meant in her walk with God, and then even took me to London Drugs to buy my first notebook and helped me decorate it with silly photos and a fancy cover.  

A few of my journals. They’re much messier on the inside!

Looking back, I can attest that most of the profound moments in the “individual” facet of my prayer life have been grounded in putting pen to paper.  

But Linda’s not the only person who has opened wide their prayer life for me to learn from. Consider the breadth of emotion and depth of prayer that can be found in the (over 70!) Psalms of David that have been collected in Scripture: joy, desperation, awe, anxiety and depression, praise, contrition, and the list goes on.

When my own words flow, I journal them. When I’m stuck, the words of David serve to help express my feelings and serve as a reminder of our firm foundation: who God is and what He has done.  

Invitations to Pray 
I want to invite you to take these weeks of Lent as an opportunity to become a prayer pupil. How can you take the posture of a learner to hone your personal practices of prayer? Experiment with writing down your prayers each morning, or choose a Psalm to repeat throughout the day. 

And in following with the generosity of David and of Linda in offering their hearts of prayer as an encouragement to others, I offer you a prayer I wrote during Lent 2020. Reach towards Christ, whether with your own words or those of who came before, and may you see that He is reaching towards you! 

Morning Prayer  
by Cailey Morgan 

Poke through 
Turn up 
Interrupt 

Weave your compassion and grace  
Through the fabric of my day 
Remind me to pray  
Infuse what I say 
And actions I take 
With Your healing way 

So that I stay 
Planted 
Rooted 
Grounded 
Not stuck but transfixed 
Can’t move until You move 

Can’t stop until You return 
Abundant life like liquid gold 
Dripping through Your cupped hands as 
You run toward us 
Each drop falling like water 
Like fire 
Dissolving a hole between 
Heaven 
and  
Earth 

Oh to catch a glimpse 
Oh to be a glimpse 

Inspiration respirate on me 
On us 
Spirit of Power You renew 
Refresh 
Revive 
Re-enliven with Your Word 

Another sunrise another surge 
Another rebirth 
Faithful Father 
Making all things new 

I’m Back!

By Cailey Morgan

Hello Readers!

This quick post is just to let you know that after a wonderful and intense 13-month parental leave, I am back part-time in my roles with CBWC in Church Planting and Communications.

In 2018 my husband and I decided to pursue local adoption, in November 2020 we welcomed our daughter Rorie into our home, and in June 2021 we signed the court documents to make it official. Rorie came into our lives shortly after her first birthday, after a year in a fantastic foster home.

Kyson Rorie and Cailey Morgan

Rorie is friendly, talkative and loves to sing. She’s into scooting, soccer, and books, especially ones about Fancy Nancy or construction vehicles. Her favourite song is “Every Move I Make,” with “Praise Ye the Lord” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” tied for second place. She is epic and hilarious, but also exhausting and challenging—especially to this mom who likes solitude and silence and being in control…but that’s another post for another day.

We are grateful for everyone who has prayed for us and cheered us on along the way. We are also so inspired by the many stories in the CBWC family of those who have grown their families through adoption, and we look forward to more conversations!

Remissioning: Grandma’s Church

By Shannon Youell

One of my favorite paintings is Van Gogh’s Starry Night. One of the ways this painting speaks to me is in the imagery of the village. It is night and the glory of God fills the skies. The church with its darkened windows rests in the middle of the village. But the lights burn bright in the windows of the homes in the neighbourhood. There, people gather around meals, prayer, conversation, thankfulness with family, with friends, with neighbours. This is what I think of as I read this quote exerted from today’s guest blogger of viewing one’s one’s “own neighbourhood as a fundamental Gospel building block.”

In this New Leaf Network Blog Post, author Rohadi picks up on some of the thinking of our previous blog post on Abundant Community and the Kingdom of God within neighbourhoods. Both these great posts were written pre-covid yet their relevance to the types of reflecting, processing, thinking and questioning the church is doing in the midst of our disrupted understanding of what it means to be the church is definitely worth asking yourself and your church some important questions about what God is saying to the church today, in times such as these.

This article by Rohadi was originally posted on the New Leaf Network Blog.

My grandma used to spend the odd Sunday strolling to service two blocks from her home. She lived during a time when everyone went to church, or in the very least knew the stories. Church was part of her routine, part of her neighbourhood, and a part of Canadian culture. The time when the majority of Canadians attended a church service is gone, but I think there’s something worthy to reclaim from grandma’s church from the ‘60s. Not for its assumed position of privilege, but the value of local parish ministry living out a story of “the best yet to come.” Despite current trends to centralize the church (strategizing to strengthen what you have versus planting something new), the presence of the local parish may be a critical key to revitalizing Christianity in post-Christian Canada.

I’m somewhat surprised how, despite facing profound loss as a whole, church leaders implement changes incrementally at a time when most are clamouring to find ways to reverse the exodus. Maybe it’s too little too late? The way leaders justify incrementalism is by picking the latest strategies and tactics that seem to be working for resilient churches somewhere else. If it works for them it should work for us, they’d say.

Evangelicals are beating declining national trends that are most evident in mainline denominations. Some even report very modest growth. Does a silver bullet lie within the function of evangelicalism? Depends what the goal is. If it’s to ensure a resilient church for Christians then yes. If it’s to “preach the Gospel to the lost,” then no.

Tips to Success
Want to lead a resilient and even growing church? Here’s what you need: strengthen programming to young families, ensure strong culturally relevant preaching, have exceptional music, maybe strong programs to baby boomers as well. This is a gross oversimplification, but if you can deliver programming with effectiveness, you’re going to hold your own, and attract the already churched. But in terms of conversion growth, that requires different expertise.

The Naked Emperor
As a whole, evangelical growth occurs via very specific sources. When we consult the data, over the past twenty years churches that add members do so through three primary and almost exclusive ways.

  1. New births.
  2. Christian immigrants.
  3. Christians switching churches.

The best resourced churches “grow” because they can afford robust programming for new immigrants; are the largest and by default have the most births; and have the best music and preaching that attracts the quintessential consumer Christian. Not on the list of three? Evangelicals struggle to grow by evangelism. In their book, A Culture of Faith, Sam Reimer and Michael Wilkinson asked congregants in evangelical churches what they thought the highest priorities in their churches were–evangelism was one of the lowest. Despite the moniker, evangelical churches don’t grow by evangelism. Even the best resourced churches struggle to connect with a post-Christendom culture where fewer hold any religious memory of the bygone church/Christian dominated Canada.

Where do we go from here?

First off, we need to shift our theological paradigm of mission. This change is both critical yet difficult to adopt. Rather than mission being a program or support for professional missionaries somewhere ‘out there in the world’, can we re-orient mission to the forefront? Can mission become the defining filter for the entire function of the church here in Canada? The implications of shifting the paradigm of mission will alter your perceptions from a church devoted to Christians for Christians, to one that re-values a participating church in the restoration of neighbourhoods for the benefit of all (as fundamental identity and not mere outreach ministry).

Challenging old paradigms of mission (some would adopt language like ‘missional’) will require more than casual lip-service. Modelling is a necessary step to take ideas beyond planning. It will mean some discomfort as we alter the things we devote the majority of our resources to—namely the Sunday service(s) and programs—so they reflect missional orientation. For example, it is difficult to claim ‘priesthood of all believers’ or encourage congregational participation in the unfolding mission of God if our gatherings are exclusively run by the qualified clergy and staff. Upsetting the rhythm of our most cherished institution (the service) won’t be easy. On one hand it is expected that staff will do most of the work because they are paid, on the other, this expectation detracts from the development of congregations out of a consumer mentality of participation. Ultimately, consumer churches are not missional churches.

Secondly, once a paradigm of mission has been established (or unrolling) leaders will seek to implement strategic direction to increase participation. One of the ways to ‘cheat’ in this process is to look at the bright spots already unfolding within your congregation, and outside in your immediate neighbourhood. You may be surprised with what people are already doing on their own accord. On average, most people will wait to join some kind of ministry the church starts. Look for the anomalies who are already living out the character of Jesus in their space and place without permission from the church. Develop these people, partner with them, and send them resources.

Thirdly, connect people based on geography. The power of the neighbourhood, of presence and proximity, cannot be replicated because it is the very foundation of incarnation—of the Word made flesh whom moved into the neighbourhood. I’ve had conversations with mega-church pastors who legitimized commuting as an asset because driving 25 minutes to a small group demonstrated deep commitment. That might be true, but it utterly devalues the neighbourhood. Jesus literally meant, love thy literal neighbour, literally next door. Literally. Combining people based on postal code is a powerful tool to create groups that are centered in the same place and ready to live out the character of Jesus where they live with people they love. I can’t think of a better pursuit for ‘small groups’. This idea, however, requires the church to process idea #1, and indeed value its very own neighbourhood as a fundamental Gospel building block.

Admittedly, the paradigm shift towards a lens of mission is not an easy one to adopt. Encouraging entrenched churches to revalue proximity over commuting may be met with stiff opposition. Suggesting the resources committed for years (decades) don’t work is a tough pill to swallow especially for those who’ve spent most of that time planted in Christian culture. (It’s tough to see the world with different eyes when you’ve been inside the church the whole time.) Disrupting status quo isn’t supposed to be easy. The caveat is, over time, you will develop and attract focused people who will call an incarnational vision their own, and will give their lives towards it. Ultimately, that’s what we hope for: a community of witnesses on jealous pursuit of an unfolding love story in their neighbourhoods and beyond.

Creative Restraints 

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan

Cailey
My husband Kyson is a fantastic photographer. He loves to capture the vastness of the ocean at sunrise, the intensity of colour in a flower petal, and the diversity of culture and personality in our community. During Lent, he took weekly prayer-photo-walks around the neighbourhood. For two of those weeks, he set his camera to only shoot in a 1:1 square ratio, in black and white, with a 35mm prime lens. No zoom. No colour. No cropping. 

These creative restraints forced Kyson to see the street that we’ve lived on for 6 years in a whole new light.

He found beauty, symmetry and life in places that had seemed barren at first glance. And the bright, shiny characters that usually drew his attention lost some of their luster when seen through the equalizing glass of the black and white viewfinder. By narrowing his field of view, he broadened his perspective.

My hope for each of usand for each of our churchesis that the creative restraint of a social-distancing world will help us broaden our vision of what church is meant to be, and what that means explicitly for me and you and the Body of Christ right now in our specific ministry contexts.  

What is God inviting your congregation into, in this very moment, in your tiny piece of the planet?  

This is a question we should consistently be asking, whether we are gathered face-to-face in our communities or making eye contact with our webcams as we practice discipleship over Zoom 

Shannon
A few weeks ago in a commentary in my city’s newspaper, a Bishop from the U.K was reflecting upon his hope that this time in our world of needing to stay home and socially distance from one another is a good time to rediscover things in our lives that we’ve ignored or disregarded due to the pace of life and expectations of that paceAs best as I can recall he said we can all reflect on “being who we’re really meant to be because the other things that have captured our attention aren’t available to us right now. 

I wonder how often, as followers of Jesus, we take the time to examine if we are living, acting, demonstrating and communicating who we’re really meant to be in every arena we are present in. We are so conditioned by the culture around us that has shaped our worldview, that we often reflect the same biases, judgments, and perspectives as all those other things that capture our attention–at the great cost of looking more like ourselves and less like those who love God with everything we are and love others likewise.   

Perhaps this is a just the time to reflect on our own motivations and desires. Do they align with the teaching of Jesus that announces the kingdom of God is among us and which we are to embody? 

As we reflect, can we rethink? Can we reframe this resurrection life we’ve been raised into with Christ, and honestly assess areas where we can imagine remissioning ourselves to be the collective light of the world Jesus call us to? This is who we were always meant to be, his witnesses, in both the demonstrating and the telling of the grand story of God’s love for us all. 

Cailey and Shannon
Over the coming weeks we will be hearing from several sources around the idea of expanding our perspectives. This may mean remissioning in an existing church, clarifying direction of a new church plant, or introspecting about the example of mission we are setting through our lives and leadership, in the midst and aftermath of this pandemic as well as in our future patterns.

We hope you’ll join us on the journey!

And the Lord added daily…

By Cailey Morgan

I held the tiny cup of wine and the flour-dusted triangle of pita bread in my hands, thanking God for the tangible reminder of His love. Surrounded by people I’d only met once, as I ate that bread that symbolized Christ’s body I declared that we are part of His body, the church.

Twenty minutes later in a downstairs room with a piece of cake in one hand and steaming cup of coffee the other, I stood next to a woman simultaneously sister and stranger. The moment seemed almost as sacramental as the breaking of bread we had just shared in the sanctuary above. Her eyes gleamed as she shared stories of what God had done over the past year: “It’s like we’re living in a miracle,” she said.

Before I could respond, applause broke out across the fellowship hall. I must have looked confused because the woman laughed as she informed me “that woman over there just decided to give her life to Christ. See! God just keeps doing this!”

Conversions like this are common at Emmanuel Iranian Church. Larry and Erna Schram and I were at the gathering on January 4 to celebrate the launch of EIC’s Coquitlam campus, a multiplication out of their mother church in North Vancouver. The North Van campus, a young church plant itself, baptized over 300 people in 2019.

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During the service Larry shared from the early church’s way of life in Acts 2, pointing to both communion and meals together as remembrances of Christ’s body.

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It was my honour to participate in commissioning Pastor Arash Azad and the congregation to join God’s Kingdom work among the Farsi-speaking population in Coquitlam, and then joining EIC in Scripture study, prayer, communion and fellowship—living out the words Larry had spoken over us.

Although each of us may live out a little bit differently, all CBWC’s congregations are  linked together as a people through elements of life together such as those four: teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, prayer.  

Next time you partake of communion with your local community of God’s people, take a moment to remember that we are as much a representation of God’s love and sacrifice to world as the wafer or morsel of bread you twirl between your fingers. The way we live and love together as congregations and as a family of churches tangibly speaks of the reality of Christ’s reign in the world.  

Next time you drink the wine—or juice—of the new Covenant, swallow it down with abandon, purposing in your heart to cling to one another and to these shared practices just like the early church did in Acts 2:42-47, stubbornly pursuing Christ and community for the sake of the world. 

As Emmanuel Iranian continues to walk in the ways of Christ and the footsteps of the early church, my prayer is that they would indeed enjoy the favour of all the people, and that God would continue to add to their (our!) number daily those who are being saved. Amen. 

 

 

 

New Church in New West

By Cailey Morgan

Meet Makarios!
We are overjoyed to introduce you to Makarios Evangelical Church, a new Church Plant in Process with the CBWC in partnership with Olivet Baptist Church. Led by husband-and-wife team Pastor Jessica Lee and Dr. Tim Ngai, Makarios (MEC) began weekly gatherings in September 2018, at Olivet’s facility in New Westminster, BC. Worship services and studies are conducted in Cantonese for adults and English for youth.

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Olivet Baptist Church facility. Photo courtesy Olivet.

Tim, a spiritual direction professor at Carey Theological College, says that it was a student who actually encouraged his wife to consider church planting:

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Dr. Tim Ngai. Photo courtesy Carey Theological College

It’s always has been a deep-rooted passion and vision for both my wife and I to walk with people in their spiritual journey to inspire them to connect with Jesus and live an abundant life according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but we never lay any thought on starting a church.  My wife took a year off from her ministry last year. Jessica was then led by the Spirit to pray to search God’s will and her heart for her next step…So when our student shared with us the idea of us starting a church focusing on spiritual formation, we included the idea in our prayer list. 

As we started to talk with our friends and spiritual mentors, surprisingly people responded overwhelmingly positive. We found God has built up a group of people who share the same vision and are willing to respond to this calling of God with us.

Meals and Mentorship
Last December, 60 people attended the Christmas party hosted in partnership with an international student ministry group out of nearby Douglas College. Much of Makarios’ outreach ministry thrust has been in partnership with this group. Makarios offers English conversation classes for international students on Saturdays, followed by a meal. Every second week, the entire congregation joins in this meal before their Saturday evening worship service.

Jessica, who has a background in pastoral ministry and training in spiritual direction, now serves as Lead Pastor while Tim supports her as MEC’s Consulting Pastor. In the few months since the launch, Jessica is thrilled with the engagement of the group. Seventy per cent of the new congregation is already in serving roles—including a chef, who joyfully organizes regular meals for community and outreach purposes. Just this week, many congregants stayed behind late after Wednesday Bible class to help prepare dumplings for the Chinese New Year celebrations and to offer to those at the food bank that operates out of the Olivet building.

Jessica and Tim have the opportunity to serve as spiritual mentors for many people in the congregation, and are excited to have some leaders stepping up to learn how to be mentors themselves as well.

“A leader is not someone who is powerful or just has lots of experience,” says Jessica. “A leader is someone who has a life that manifests the love and power of God to His people.”

Young congregations like Makarios need support from their family of churches in these formative years. Has your church considered partnering with CBWC Church Planting to help build a strong foundation of prayer, relationship and financial support? Talk to me (cmorgan@cbwc.ca) or Shannon (syouell@cbwc.ca) to find out what you can do today to strengthen Makarios and other CBWC church plants.

Happy New Year!

By Cailey Morgan

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Happy New Year!

There’s something about turning the page on a new season that opens the possibility for new hope for the future. I don’t know about you but I am so ready for an opportunity to disengage from the patterns and ruts that I’ve gotten myself into over the last year and begin afresh.

I was reminded by a colleague recently, however, that as Christians, we follow a different calendar.

New Year in December
Yes, on one level I am talking about the Liturgical Calendar, which provides a way for us to live into the story of God throughout the year. The first Sunday of Advent is the first day of the Christian or Liturgical year. Anticipation of the Incarnation becomes the starting point, not personal goals for self-betterment, or stirring up willpower to achieve a better you.

No—for God’s kids, New Year’s Day is a day to cease striving and to wait. It’s a day to put all our hope in Emmanuel who is coming to ransom us, captive in our sins and in the atmosphere of sin around us that threatens to suffocate us until the breath of the Spirit comes.

Everyday A New Day
On another level, we as Christ-followers have access to New Year’s Day every day! As Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We’ve all messed up, some of us deeply, in the past year, month, week. Yesterday. Today already. But every time we turn away from our heavenly Father, there are two arms open wide to receive us back. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:19).

If you’re looking for a way to reconnect with the Lord in this new calendar season, try opening the Psalms each morning for the next couple of weeks, looking for times when the Psalmist uses the word “morning.” There’s a strong theme of God’s unfailing commitment to us, as well as the constantly-failing commitment of us to Him, and the opportunity—daily—to re-align ourselves to the God who has covenanted with His people, promising to never leave nor forsake us.

Celebrating the Word-made-Flesh

By Cailey Morgan

Over the past month on this blog we’ve been basking in the promises of the Old Testament prophets about our King who will come and bring justice and righteousness, this humble Ruler who will hold our hand and invite us into His mission of peace and flourishing for the world.

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As Christmas fast approaches, many of us have likely also been in the first 2 chapters of Luke’s Gospel, a story rife with exclamations of praise as the words of Old Testament prophecies transform into the living reality of Word-made-Flesh before the very eyes of everyday folks like a doubting priest and a pregnant teenager.

I hope that the songs of Elizabeth, Zechariah and Mary—and the pronouncements of the angels—well up in you a new song of worship to our King like they have done for us. Here’s my take on Luke 1 that I’ve been singing lately, and next week you’ll get to read Shannon’s poetic response to the culmination of prophecies come true in Jesus.

His mercy extends His royal hand reaches 
To perform mighty deeds 
Do not be afraid He lifts up the humble 
The Holy One has done great things 
 
My soul glorifies my spirit rejoices 
In the Lord  
In God my Saviour 
For You God nothing’s impossible 
Let it be as You have said 
 
Blessed is she who has believed 
That what the Lord has said will be 
Blessed is she who has believed 
That what the Lord has said will be accomplished 
 
He remembers our children 
He is mindful of us 

He shows mercy to our fathers 
He is mindful of us

My soul glorifies my spirit rejoices 
In the Lord
In God my Saviour 
For You God nothing’s impossible 
Let it be as You have said 

Living Like Citizens

By Cailey Morgan

What does it mean to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom?

We’re in the middle of a series on Gospel, Kingdom and Justice. In some ways, Gospel is the biggest picture—the story of God with us throughout history and the reality that He is for all who will receive Him. Kingdom zooms in a little to explain that God is King, so living out the Gospel (aka, living in His presence with Him) means we are citizens of His Kingdom: the realm in which what God wants done gets done.

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In coming articles we will dive into Justice—an even sharper focus on one of the key ways that the Good News of the Kingdom is enacted on earth and in heaven. But today, let’s look at one of the ways the Tangible Kingdom Primer describes God’s Kingdom on earth:

“We believe that whenever you see a group of people who find a rhythm or balance among communion, community and mission, you will always find the Kingdom. It will be tangible!”i

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Communion represents ‘oneness’—those things that make up our intimate connection and worship of God. Community represents aspects of ‘togetherness’—those things we share with each other as we live our lives together. And mission represents ‘otherness’—the aspects of our life together that focus on people outside our community.”ii

I can quickly give mental assent to this description of the Kingdom. It’s chock-full of missional-incarnational-community language that I’ve been steeped in as an apprentice of Cam Roxburgh over the years. But a life of communion, community and mission—living as a citizen of King Jesus’ realm—is not just a proposition I give a nod to, or a neat box for explaining a spiritual truth.

Choosing citizenship means action. It means intentionally striding toward the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14). And it means shedding all other attachments and allegiances in order to squeeze through that hole in the wall.

The authors of the TK Primer explain it this way:

“Nothing good ever comes easy. For sure, nothing of God’s Kingdom comes without resistance from our personal kingdoms or the world’s kingdom. Nothing of the Spirit of God comes without a good ol’ fashioned bar fight from our flesh….

God’s ways are natural, but they aren’t easy—especially at first. New ways of life must be formed in us through hours, days, and years of intentional practice. The future of your own faith and the incarnational presence of your community is ultimately about letting the Spirit of God re-orient everything about you.”iii

A Picture of Citizenship
This citizenship process is difficult, but not impossible. In Acts 2, we get a clear and beautiful glimpse of what happens when God’s people surrender to His Spirit and His Kingdom way; the Good News that God offers Himself to all is proven when He empowers those who say yes to respond by offering their all.

 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:37-47).

The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Wow. Yes please, Lord! So how does the Kingdom advance in this passage? Notice what begins to happen when hearers of the Good News let the Gospel take over in their own lives. It infiltrates every area of their devotion and action, and soon other people start to notice. And then those other people begin to surrender their all to living in the Good News of the Kingdom and the Spirit-led cycle continues.

Peter shows us the need for clear preaching and admonition, but this movement exploded because people believed what he said about Jesus with not only their minds, but their hearts and voices and wallets and calendars and homes and refrigerators. That’s evangelism.

Devoted. Everyday. Everyone. Everything.
I’ve read and prayed through this passage so many times over the years because it’s this type of abundant life that I covet for my family and my church and my neighbourhood. But when I opened again to Acts 2 the other day, God’s Spirit nudged me to consider whether I myself am living as a devoted citizen of God’s Kingdom. The conversation went like this:

Spirit: “All the believers were together.”

Cailey: “You mean, like, in the-same-place-spending-time-together type of together? Or emotionally together—like a shared purpose?”

Spirit: “All the believers were together. Every day they continued to meet together.”

Cailey: “I can dig it! With a few people. I’m kind of introverted, as you obviously know.”

Spirit: “All the believers were together.”

Cailey: “Like, the ones I get along with?”

Spirit: “Nope. All.”

Cailey: “How about the ones I know I can trust?”

Spirit: “Nope. All. Trust Me.”

Cailey: “How about the ones who have the same core value statements?”

Spirit:  “They had everything in common.”

Cailey: “You mean like they lent each other their stuff?”

Spirit: “Yes. And they shared their pain. And their joy. And their love for the place where I planted them. That’s why they sold property to give to anyone as they had need.”

Cailey: “As in, when they could afford it they gave offerings to support people who were trying to get back on their feet.”

Spirit: “No. I mean they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Cailey: “What if they don’t deserve it?”

Spirit: “What do you deserve?”

Cailey: “Touché, Lord. But what if they misuse the gift?”

Spirit: “If you’re asking that question, it wasn’t a gift.”

Cailey: “I don’t think I can do this.”

Spirit: “That’s why you have them! And Me!”

The Gospel news of God’s presence, His reign, and His constant, all-out search has been the reality since the beginning of time and is the reality today. Yes, one day we will have fully-realized heavenly life when the darkness of sin and separation from God no longer seeks to block out the warmth and light of Christ and the radiance of His Bride (us living together in the unity of the Spirit). But the Kingdom is already among us, as Jesus declared and His people have been declaring for twenty centuries.

When we—the citizens of that Kingdom—submit ourselves to the reign of the King, aligning our will with His, our very lives will point to this Good News, and our “evangelistic” declaration of truth will no longer be a hollow and awkward statement of beliefs, but a simple and natural explanation of why and how our lives are marked with contagious and brilliant Light. Sounds like good news to me!

Next week, we’ll jump into Advent by taking a look at some of the Old Testament promises and prophecies about Jesus, and the strong thread of a Kingdom of Justice that winds its way throughout history and Jesus’ teachings while He was here on earth.


i. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, The Tangible Kingdom Primer: An Eight-Week Guide to Incarnational Community (CRM Empowering Leaders: 2009): 202.

ii. Graphic and quote from Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, The Tangible Kingdom Primer: An Eight-Week Guide to Incarnational Community (CRM Empowering Leaders: 2009): 201

iii. Ibid: viii.