We're about to start a new teaching series on Sundays: Following the Way.
Why do we plan Sunday teaching series? As we meet week-by-week we expect to have an encounter together with God. As we meet to worship God and submit ourselves to his word, we come expectant that he wants to change and transform us, empowering us to live as his ambassadors in the world. In other words, he has a plan for us, each Sunday: He has a plan for you and me, as individuals, and he has a plan for us as we gather together. We don't just gather as individuals to worship God, but we gather as God's spiritual family, to encounter him together!
So each new teaching series isn't just learning us "some more stuff" but we come expectant to change, to be upgraded, to be transformed and empowered in our following of Jesus. Over time, by ensuring we look at different parts of the Bible, we ensure we grow in all aspects of following Jesus, not just our favourite bits, or those acceptable to our current cultural moment.
So I'm really excited that, for the first time since 2012, we're about to start looking at Acts. This book describes the formation and focus of early Christian movement - the church. We're going to look at what the Holy Spirit did, what the church did, how they grew and learned and changed. We're going to look at their culture, attitudes and values, and how that led to their generous, expectant and courageous shared life. Acts shows us what the early church believed, and how they lived, and much of their story is intended as a positive example for us. (We'll talk more about whether Acts is descriptive, prescriptive, or normative!)
As we look at the core vision and values for the early church, we're expecting to dig into some of our own core vision and values. It's no surprise that this is one of our more visited webpages, as people coming to OCC want to know what we stand for, and which direction we're walking in.
"The Way" was how the early church was described. I love the dynamism of that term - it implies we're going somewhere! The church today, in much of public life, has come to be seen as a slightly out-of-date, static, building-bound institution. The language of "re-opening places of worship" during the pandemic shows us that the world thinks of the church as a place to come and pray, rather than a people who go and follow!
So as we study Acts together this term, please come as followers of The Way, expecting to find an example to follow, a culture to emulate and a direction to walk in - and let's be freshly stirred to live as followers of Jesus, following in his Way.