July 16, 2012
On of the most exciting and hopeful aspects of the Episcopal Church’s 77th General Convention was the Acts 8 Moment. The initiative takes its name from the chapter in Acts of the Apostles when the church faced a great persecution and scattered out of Jerusalem. The result was the spread of the good news to new people and places with great joy. Three Episcopal bloggers, Scott Gunn, Susan Snook and Tom Ferguson, hatched the Acts 8 Moment idea after reading each others’ writings and thinking about how to move the church forward. Two meetings at convention gathered dozens of people for prayer, Bible study, dreaming and discussion. A video of most of the powerful completions of the end of the sentence, “I dream of a church that…” can be found here.
At the end of the second meeting, some time was spent brainstorming how to move forward. Susan Snook has summarized that discussion in her blog, also posted here at the Acts 8 Moment website. Putting together the website (thank you Frank Logue!) was a big first step. In the interests of continued brainstorming, I’d suggest the following as a framework for thinking about next steps for the Acts 8 Moment.
Hearing our discussions and thinking about what this group of people could add at this time, I would suggest three broad goals for our work:
- Building a community of those interested in following the disciples of Acts 8 in taking the church outside into the world in new Spirit-led ways.
- Supporting that community as we attempt to carry out God’s mission in the particular contexts we find ourselves in.
- Helping the restructuring Task Force accomplish its work.
Some specific actions to accomplish those goals could include:
1. Building a community
- Website/facebook page
- Common time for daily prayer (5:08pm?), perhaps with a particular collect or reading verses from Acts 8
- An Acts 8 Bible study that we can go through together and with those gathered around us (including pre-Christians!)
- Development of a simple and flexible but committed rule of life including prayer, community building and action in line with what is in Acts 8
- A face-to-face gathering or gatherings with prayer, bible study and discussion, similar to those at convention but going deeper
- Connecting with and welcoming in those working on similar initiatives in other denominations
2. Supporting that Community
- Areas on the web-site specifically to share resources, links and ideas about ways to take Acts 8 steps into our parishes and community
- Twitter-conversations set up around specific topics that seem of interest
- Prayer request opportunities for specific mission and ministry initiatives by people in their particular context (how much better to go to a vestry meeting with 40 people praying for its outcome!)
- Break out sessions around particular ideas or ministries at Acts 8 gathering(s)
- Some mechanism of allowing the community to know the costs for various activities and contribute towards covering them.
3. Helping the restructuring Task Force accomplish its work
- Prayer, prayer and more prayer (perhaps a daily time or prayer can be selected)
- Fasting (a day a month specifically for the godly restructuring of the church?)
- Providing the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies with a list of people who have attended Acts 8 Moment meetings (in person or via social media) and are willing to serve on the Task Force (every other church group will be offering names, so we may as well offer those among us willing to serve without any particular endorsement or criteria)
- Participating as individuals in whatever feedback mechanisms or gatherings that Task Force creates, while praying/fasting/etc together as Acts 8 during those times
- Continuing to share ideas (and even disagree) about specific re-structuring ideas, possibly through the blogroll or other on-line mechanism, that will become a go-to place for the wider church to learn about and wrestle with various proposals.
- Being prepared for appropriate action leading up to General Convention 2015 (even if we won’t know what that action should be until the time draws closer).
There are probably many other good ideas for helpful activities. I hope these three areas will provide a useful focus for our conversations as discern together how we can best serve God, God’s Church, and God’s people.
This post originally appeared at Adam Trambley’s blog, The Black Giraffe