Our high school class on Sunday mornings has been studying the book of Acts for the past couple months. I love the look in their eyes as our students hear how the Holy Spirit was moving in the first century church and as they come to understand that the same Spirit lives in the church of this century as well. But I was caught off guard a little bit yesterday.
We’re just getting into the shift between Peter’s meeting with Cornelius’ family and Paul’s travels through Asia Minor and his hope to reach Rome. It’s amazing how a little splinter cell of Jews loyal to a carpenter became the multi-cultural church stretching throughout much of the known world so quickly (all without the help of blogs, mass-texts, or facebook). I wanted to recap the first several chapters that we’d covered up to this point, so I started at the beginning and asked them to “Tell me about the book of Acts.”
As they began talking about Jesus ascending into heaven and the Apostles waiting in and around Jerusalem, I asked about the name of the book. “Why is it called Acts?” The one student who piped up first offered only a shrug, a confused look, and a frustrated “I have no idea what any of this has to do with an ax.”
The Ax of the Apostles. The Ax of the Holy Spirit. Ax.
You need to know this is not a dumb kid. He’s been to church all of his life and reads his Bible more than most adults I know – by a lot. He’s not Biblically illiterate and often leads in our student ministry in many ways. He’s a great young man. But somehow, when he was a little kid his mind latched on to an “Ax” metaphor instead of more of an “Actions” picture – and it stuck until yesterday!
I’ve been reflecting on this in a couple ways:
1. A church that doesn’t Act with the Holy Spirit will soon see His Ax. That’s cheesy enough to fit on a church marquee (sorry), but we have to remember the stakes are high. When we stop following His lead we’re not really being the church.
2. Spelling Matters.
3. Don’t assume everybody knows what you know. Cover the basics and re-cover them frequently.
4. There may be more teaching going on than learning – and that’s not ok. If you teach or lead a group, be prepared when it comes time to deliver and fill in the gaps that even the best curriculum will leave. Don’t settle for the Saturday night, flip through the workbook then read it Sunday morning approach. The way you fill the role (whether it’s in the nursery or the nursing home or anywhere in between) is shaping the church. Shape it well.