The New Testament book of Acts is filled with transitions.
There's the switch from the visible ministry of the physical Jesus to the invisible but powerful work of the Holy Spirit. There's the gradual, outward movement of the Christian witness from Jerusalem to other areas and eventually to Rome. The shift from gospel proclamation going for Jews only to later include Gentiles as well is highly significant. The change from the preeminence of Peter's influence early on in the book to the increasing impact of Paul's work is obvious.
A case study of one transition in this exciting book shows up in Acts 1:15-26 as the small band of disciples tries to adjust to the ascension/departure of the resurrected Christ and the defection/suicide of Judas. What will this group do now? How will they carry out their mission to evangelize the world?
Peter steps up and convenes a meeting. He openly and honestly lays out the facts of the situation. He stresses that this band of believers must move on and advance forward. He calls for a replacement to be selected for Judas and indicates that the choice needs to be made carefully. The group deliberates with keen spiritual discernment plus common sense, decides on a course of action, and then prays, leaving the ultimate results in God's hands. This first real test of the strength of their fellowship and their organization ends successfully.
I think it is true that Christians and churches are living today in Acts 29. For us, transitions are just as inevitable as they were for our spiritual forebears.
We're experiencing some of that right now in our wonderful Peninsula Baptist Association.
Since October, 2007 we've been in an interim period. Just recently, after prolonged study and discussion, we officially made the shift from an older model of getting the churches to do the association's work to a whole new paradigm of viewing the association as a resource for enabling and assisting and equipping and partnering with congregations in doing their own particular and unique ministries. The analysis and conversations and questions and vote were all positive. Now we are trying to begin the process of fleshing all of this out as it relates to staffing alignment and services offered.
We're also transitioning from one Director of Missions to another. We miss Jim Ailor and the good men who served before him, but we now build upon the great foundation they left us and eagerly look forward to the individual God is preparing to lead us in the future. Your Interim Leadership and Admin and Retreat Board Teams have been attempting to wisely, gently guide the association in steadily working through a host of issues(office relocation, Seafarer ministry and building, Eastover potential, best configuration of staff, etc.) so that when the next DOM is called all of these matters will be settled and our new leader can hit the ground running in effective, strategic leadership.
I sincerely believe that throughout we've tried to follow the Acts 1:15-26 pattern. There have been open-and-above board presentations of facts and needs and options. Healthy, positive, motivational challenges have been shared and gracious, cooperative, joy-filled meetings have been held. Some wise, forward-thinking decisions have been made. Much prayer has gone heavenward and the results are in the hands of our awesome God. It's been an interesting and productive period. It's not over just yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your patience and understanding is certainly appreciated. Much gratitude goes out to Eddie Heath for his incredible visioning and guiding during this process.
Now we stand on tip toe, watching to see what the Lord has in store for this great partnership of churches in the months and years up ahead!