Over three successive mornings this week, it will be my privilege to lead the Anglican clergy from the Province of Queensland in a series of Bible studies during our clergy conference on the Gold Coast.
Rather than select texts with some perceived relevance to the conference theme (“Leading your church into growth”), the Bible studies will simply focus on the readings from Acts that are set in the lectionary cycle for those mornings:
- Acts 16:11–24
- Acts 16:25–40
- Acts 17:1–14
When read within the context of this clergy conference, these lectionary texts invite us to reflect on the significance of Paul’s missionary activities in ancient Greece for us today. As a leader within the emerging Jesus movement in the first generation after Easter, Paul was instrumental in the Gospel finding fresh expressions in new contexts. As we explore these excerpts from Acts 16 and 17 we shall be open to hear what the Spirit might be saying to the church in our time and in our place.
The full text of the three sessions is now available online.
- The world behind the Acts of the Apostles (Tuesday morning)
In this first session we note the historical setting of Luke-Acts, and selected key issues shaping the outlook of both the author and his first readers. This will include a date for Acts well into the parting of the ways with Judaism, and a time by which Paul has been embraced as a major interpreter of Jesus. It is also a world of empire, and one aspect of Luke’s agenda seems to be to assist his readers in finding ways to live faithfully in a world system that mostly ignores Christians, but finds little reason to respect them when they come to the attention of the authorities.
2. The world within the Acts of the Apostles (Wednesday morning)
What kind of Paul does Luke offer us in the Acts of the Apostles? What kind of Christianity does he invite us to embrace? What kind of ministry does he promote? How does that resonate with or challenge our assumptions about church life, ministry, and mission? And in what ways does any of this connect with our context?
3. The world in which we read the Acts of the Apostles (Thursday morning)
What kind of a Bible do we desire to have? Do we have a book of answers, or a compendium of practical mission strategies? Or do we have something much less tailored to our natural desires, and yet perhaps far more relevant to the challenges we face as the people of Christ in the twenty-first century? How central is the Bible to our mission and character?