What Happens When the Church is Activated?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In the book of Acts we read about how the Holy Spirit set the early believers ablaze for the work of God. We encounter Peter, who courageously steps into the public square to preach the good news of life in Jesus Christ, and thousands come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We see powerful people like Stephen, who speaks of Christ in the face of persecution, even though it ends up costing him his life. We hear about Philip, who shares across cultural and religious barriers to bring the Samaritans to Jesus. We even see an enemy of Christ and persecutor of the early Christians, Saul of Tarsus, become a passionate evangelist and bold church planter that we know as the Apostle Paul.

The book of Acts is an active book. The church is not stagnant, but moving. The church is engaged and alive, moving forward on mission by the power of the Holy Spirit. What does it look like when individual believers and church communities are activated by God for His work? Well, at the very least we can say that it is not easy to ignore a church that is activated.

But it’s important to give a little more attention to something we could miss here. While Acts is an active book, we also see two things in this story of the early Christians that clarify for us what does not fit with an activated church.

First, an activated church that truly follows Jesus cannot be apathetic. There are times when see find ourselves confronted with the many needs, challenges, and serious situations within the world, that we can become overwhelmed by it all. In the mass of it all, we sometimes shut down and turn away from the needs of the world. We may, instead, focus on our own lives and challenges without giving any thought to the world God loves. Essentially, we become apathetic. But activated churches and Christians are not apathetic. They are engaged with the needs of the world because God cares about people and the needs of the world. While no one church or Christian can address all the needs and challenges of the world, our faith will not give us permission to turn away. An activated church remains open-hearted to the world because God is an open-hearted and generous being.

Second, even though Acts shows us that an activated church is not apathetic but engaged, it also shows us that an activated church is not necessarily a busy church. There is a significant difference between being busy and being active. The early church was activated by the Holy Spirit to join in with God’s mission in a focused way. However, the early church was not meaninglessly busy, doing whatever came their way at any time. In fact, there were key moments where the early believers chose not to do some things or pursue some aspects of potential mission because of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Some of us misunderstand the missionary aspect of Christianity as a command to become busy for the kingdom. But an activated church replaces busyness with focused obedience. Some of us need to remember that God is not very interested in un-commanded work. Yes, God wants us to join in with His kingdom mission, but He does not want us to aimlessly rush around with whatever need or challenge captures our attention in the moment. In fact, what captures our attention may lead us away from the mission God has for us. As a mentor once shared with me: we may need to consider whether we are more in love with the work of the Lord than we are in love with the Lord of the work.

An activated church is not boringly apathetic to the world’s need nor frenziedly busy. An activated church is alive in the Holy Spirit, open-hearted to the world, and walking in obedience to the Living God.

I believe in the holy Christian church, the communion of saints

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our preaching series entitled “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.” This series walks through the Apostles Creed as a basic summary of our faith but also as a way to live our faith out with God in the world. Each weekend of this series will explore the biblical and theological roots of the Apostles Creed, while also providing specific spiritual practices and approaches to living out what we know as we ‘proclaim and embody’ the Creed in our daily lives.

This weekend I continued preaching on the third article of the creed: “I believe in the holy Christian church, the communion of saints.” This automatically raises the important question for today: can I really still believe in the church?

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

Do We Really Believe in the Church?

The challenge of the church

The challenge within us

Considering what it means to believe in the church

A Church Worth Believing In

The church is holy

  • Made holy in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Peter 2:9)
  • Becoming holy through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:3)

The church is universal/catholic/Christian

  • What “catholic” means and doesn’t mean
  • The universal mission of the church (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)
  • The multi-everything nature of the church (Revelation 7:9-10; Galatians 3:26-29)

The church is a communion of saints

  • “Communion” as community unified by Christ for Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
  • What are “saints”? (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Living Out Our Belief in the Church

Seeing the church through the eyes of Jesus

Expanding our vision through the global church

Being the church through the power of the Holy Spirit


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

Eastbrook at Home – August 7, 2022

Eastbrook-At-Home-Series-GFX_16x9-Title

Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM. This weekend we continue our series “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed” by turning our attention to this statement: “I believe in the holy Christian church, the communion of saints.”

Here is a prayer for this Sunday from The Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, give us the increase of faith, hope, and love; and, that we may obtain what you have promised, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

If you are able to do so, let me encourage you to join us for in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Weekend Wanderer: 6 August 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


im-591119“Pope’s Canada Visit Highlights Complex Relationship Between Catholicism and Indigenous Cultures” – Francis X. Rocca in The Wall Street Journal: “Pope Francis’s visit to Canada, which he has described as a penitential pilgrimage, took a more celebratory turn on Tuesday [of last week] when he presided at Mass in an Edmonton stadium and took part in a traditional lakeside ceremony with indigenous Catholics. Although organizers of the papal visit and the pope himself have made it clear that its purpose is to apologize for Catholics’ role in what Francis called government-sponsored ‘projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation,’ his second full day in the country highlighted a more harmonious legacy of the church’s relationship with indigenous Canadians. On Monday, the pope apologized repeatedly for Catholic participation in the country’s system of residential schools which, for more than a century, assimilated indigenous children to white culture. On Tuesday, he pointed to the church’s practice of presenting its teachings in forms compatible with local cultures.”


Nicky and Pipa Gumbel“Nicky Gumbel’s Fitting Farewell to HTB Church: ‘The Best Is Yet to Come'” – Krish Kandia in Christianity Today: “What does a lifetime of fruitful public ministry look like? Last Sunday, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) tried to answer this question in a video montage marking the end of Nicky Gumbel’s 46 years of leadership at the London multisite church. Images of people whose lives had been impacted by the senior pastor and author flashed across the screen as one incredible statistic after another scrolled past: 30 million people introduced to the Christian faith through the Alpha Course, across 140 countries and 170 languages; 2 million people fed spiritually by a Bible reading app; and 2 million meals delivered during the pandemic from HTB alone. The July 24 video was a fitting homage to a nowadays unusual career, spanning almost five decades in the same congregation. It is rare in Anglican churches in the United Kingdom for a trainee leadership position to last more than the minimum requirement of three years, with many moving regularly to the next parish. But Nicky sat under the tutelage of HTB’s then senior leader, bishop Sandy Millar, for 19 years. He was 49 years old when he took over the church, and admitted to uncertainty about it all—feeling both too young and too old to do so.”


081022green-church“What does it mean to be a green church during a climate crisis?” – Anna Woofenden in The Christian Century: “At Presbyterian-New England Congrega­tional Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, environmental sustainability is woven into every aspect of church life, from how the church is heated to what happens at coffee hour to the content of sermons to what products are purchased for events. Being a green church has become a way of life, not an issue to be debated. The pastor, Kate Forer, said that church members began this work several years ago by exploring together a series of questions that helped them to connect the dots between their actions and the entire network of creation. Where does our electricity come from? Are there opportunities for us to buy renewable energy, as a congregation and as individuals? If not, how can we as a church work to make those available? What are we doing with our trash? Are there ways to reduce our trash and increase our recycling and composting? What about transportation to church?…Such questions became powerful guides as the congregation navigated the choices and actions they were taking as a community. While people were generally supportive of the idea of being more environmentally active and sustainable, the work limped along for several years as they did a little here and a little there.”


Screen Shot 2022-07-29 at 2.05.26 PM“Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil?” – Chinese house church pastor Yang Xibo in Plough: “Sin is sly and will hide itself. If we ask why there is so much injustice in the world – massacres, war, corruption, and bribery – many people will answer without hesitation, ‘Generally people are good except for a handful of scumbags.’ Consequently, they take away judgment. In fact, this neglects sin. Communism and Marxism teach that only a few people are evil, and they become capitalists who take control over the economy. As long as we can get rid of these few, most people are intrinsically good and the world will become better as human good exceeds human evil. We all subconsciously believe this story, but what happened when the people were granted authority in China? No one wanted to work for the common good. As a result, China’s economy crashed, because people are selfish, and they would rather put more effort into taking care of their own fields than communal ones. The Bible says all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). Without being taught, the intention of a person’s heart is evil from youth (Gen. 8:21). Humanists and anthropologists often consider humans to be good, because without God that is the only hope they have. They cannot accept or bear the fact that humankind is evil. Yet such hope has been shown to be bankrupt in history.


Timeline of African American Music“Timeline of African American Music: 1600-Present” – Dr. Portia K. Maultsby and colleagues at Carnegie Hall website: “From the drumbeats of Mother Africa to the work songs and Spirituals created in a new land, a path can be traced to the blues, gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and hip-hop expressions of African Americans that are celebrated throughout the world. The Timeline of African American Music represents decades of scholarship conducted and led by Dr. Portia K. Maultsby, a pioneer in the study of African American music, as well as the contributions of numerous scholars. From the earliest folk traditions to present-day popular music, the timeline is a detailed view of the evolution of African American musical genres that span the past 400 years. This celebration of African American musical traditions reveals the unique characteristics of each genre and style, while also offering in-depth studies of pioneering musicians who created some of America’s most timeless artistic expressions.”


mechanization and monoculture“Mechanization and Monoculture: Why eliminating the unpredictable leads to unintended consequences” – Alan Jacobs in The Hedgehog Review: “Near the end of his brilliant memoir Tristes Tropiques, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss describes his visits to various rum distilleries in the Caribbean:

In Martinique, I had visited rustic and neglected rum-distilleries where the equipment and the methods used had not changed since the eighteenth century. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, in the factories of the company which enjoys a virtual monopoly over the whole of the sugar production, I was faced by a display of white enamel tanks and chromium piping. Yet the various kinds of Martinique rum, as I tasted them in front of ancient wooden vats thickly encrusted with waste matter, were mellow and scented, whereas those of Puerto Rico are coarse and harsh.

Meditation on this contrast leads Levi-Strauss to a more general insight:

We may suppose, then, that the subtlety of the Martinique rums is dependent on impurities the continuance of which is encouraged by the archaic method of production. To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilization: Its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it, although this does not absolve us of the obligation to purify the stream. By being doubly in the right, we are admitting our mistake. We are right to be rational and to try to increase our production and so keep manufacturing costs down. But we are also right to cherish those very imperfections we are endeavouring to eliminate. Social life consists in destroying that which gives it its savour.

A melancholy reflection, to be sure—but perhaps not an inevitable one. The Puerto Rican rum industry observed by Levi-Strauss is a clear example of what happens when, as Sigfried Giedion put it in his still-essential book from 1948, Mechanization Takes Command, mechanization conquests more and more dimensions of human existence: agriculture, food production, bathing and washing. He even has a chapter on how mass-produced furniture changes our very posture.”


Music: The War on Drugs, “Pain,” from A Deeper Understanding