What Happens When the Church is Activated on Mission?

“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 see the Holy Spirit set the early believers ablaze for the work of God. We encounter Peter, who steps forth with boldness to preach the good news and thousands come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We see bold people like Stephen, who speaks of Christ and it costs him his life, and Philip, who shares across cultural and religious barriers to bring the Samaritans to Jesus. We see an enemy of Christ, Saul of Tarsus, become a passionate evangelist and bold church planter, the Apostle Paul.

Acts is an active book where we see the church activated on mission. What does it look like when individual believers and church communities are activated by God for His work? Suffice it to say that things happen.

But let’s look at something we could miss here. Acts is an active book but we also see two things in Acts that Christianity is not about.

Christianity—following Jesus—does not leave us much space for being boring or apathetic. Sometimes in the midst of the world, with all the needs, all the challenges, all the serious situations, we can become overwhelmed by the needs. This sometimes leads us to turn away from the needs of the world, focusing on our own lives and challenges. Essentially, we become apathetic. But activated churches and Christians are not apathetic or boring. They are engaged with the needs of the world because God cares about people and the needs of the world. God is an active, giving missionary God.

At the same time, even though Acts is an active book, it is not a busy book. In fact, there is a big difference between being busy and being active. The early church was activated by the Holy Spirit to join in with God in a focused way for God’s mission. But the early church was not meaninglessly busy. Some of us, when we become Christians, think that we are to become busy for the kingdom. But there is not a lot of space for busyness in the activated church. Some of us need to remember that God is not all that interested in uncommanded work. He wants us to join in with His kingdom mission but not to be aimlessly rushing around with whatever captures our attention in the moment. In fact, what captures our attention may lead us away from the activated mission God has for us. As a wise 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.

Activated Christianity is not about being boring and neither is it about being busy. Activated Christianity is not about apathy to the world’s need nor is it about frenzied activity. The book of Acts shows us that the church is activated by the power of the Holy Spirit for the mission of God in the world.

Dan Ryan: Seeking Transformation through Jesus [MissionsFest, week 2]

This past weekend at Eastbrook we continued our pause on our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, in order to continue our annual MissionsFest. Last week Dr. Ed Stetzer was with us for a message entitled, “The Commissions of Jesus for a Post-COVID Church.” This week my colleague, Pastor Dan Ryan, spoke about where Eastbrook is headed with local and international mission through a message entitled “Seeking Transformation through Jesus.”

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.


  1. Revisiting Dr. Stetzer’s sermon:
    a. We are Sent
    b. To All Kinds of People
    c. With a Message
    d. Empowered by the Holy Spirit
  2. Busyness vs Transformation
    a. Losing sight of the end goal
    b. What is the end goal?
  3. Transformation in Jesus
    a. Luke 4:16-21
  4. Integrated Transformation
    a. Our mission is to Proclaim & Embody
    b. It is a mission focused on the Spiritual and the Physical
    c. Mission lives in the tension of these two
    d. Jesus was fully man and fully God, a whole human and a whole spirit
    e. As Jesus is, so is our mission integrated
  5. Seeking Transformation
    a. What does it take to see transformation?
    b. Example: Milwaukee Rescue Mission
    c. Moving forward in Local Outreach
    i. Seek the Holy Spirit
    ii. Serve Together
    iii. Build Relationships
    iv. Seek Transformation
  6. Afghan Arrivals
    a. Opportunity to support
    b. Building teams around each arrival
    c. Your chance to join us
  7. Focusing on Transformation
    a. Stories from overseas
    b. How to join in – Perspectives & Short-term
    c. Prayer

Digging Deeper:

  1. Read Jesus’ Commissions again, particularly Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:16-20 and spend time unpacking the different parts of each commission.
  2. Read Luke 4:16-21 and also Isaiah 61 and envision a city and a world where this takes hold.
  3. Spend time away with God this week reflecting on the connection between His Commissions and His Transformation, and what part He is calling you to play.
  4. To unpack the theological understanding of this transformation, read Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
  5. Reach out to a fellow brother or sister in Christ who is serving in the city or world and invite them to a shared meal or over coffee to hear how they have witnessed God’s work of transformation.

Ed Stetzer: The Commissions of Jesus for a Post-COVID World [MissionsFest, week 1]

This past weekend at Eastbrook we took a pause on our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, in order to begin our annual MissionsFest. We had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Ed Stetzer for this kick-off weekend of MissionsFest. Ed Stetzer is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books.

Why Tension is Vital as People of the Kingdom: the mission of the wheat in the weeds

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.’” (Matthew 13:28-30)

In His parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus makes it clear that the intermixing of good and evil is a present reality in the world. In some ways, we do not need Jesus to tell us this because we experience it all the time. We experience the beauty of a sunset made more vibrant and striking because of smoke whirling through the air from forest fires. We cry tears of grief over the death of a friend or family member because we experienced so much love toward and from them.

This is true not just generally, however, but personally and relationally. Jesus says the wheat is people of the kingdom and the weeds are people influenced by evil. There is a tension that arises when kingdom people and evil people are mixed together. We feel it in our workplaces, schools, families, and friendships.

Many times, when we feel this tension as people of the kingdom we speak about it in terms of the pressure we feel to live and speak for God when others oppose us. We may sometimes even take on a “woe is me” attitude because we exist within the tensions of good and evil at play in our world.

Some Christians may even say, “Lord, when will You deal with this evil? Couldn’t You just clear all the world of evil influence and people?! Then we could live fully and peacefully with You in this world.” But this is not how it works.

This is not how it works by God’s wise and loving design. Not only do we as people of the kingdom experience tension in ourselves, we are also bringers of tension in the world around us. Hopefully this is not because we are pig-headed and difficult followers of Jesus, but because we are bringing kingdom-oriented tension into the lives of those who do not know or are resisting God.

Part of our mission as people of the kingdom is to bring necessary tension to a world at odds with God. Our very presence as people trying to walk with Jesus, witness to Jesus, and speak about Jesus is a calling to bring the missional tension of the kingdom to people and places that otherwise would have no influence for Christ there.

So we may need to reframe our feelings of tension. We may need to move away from “woe is me” toward “called is me” as we humbly and graciously live and speak for God in the field of the world where wheat and weeds grow together. Until the final harvest arrives, may we bring kingdom tension as witnesses for our living God.

The Messiah’s Mission – a new series at Eastbrook

This past Sunday at Eastbrook Church we begin a thirteen-week preaching series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” which continues our journey through the Gospel of Matthew, focusing on chapters 8-12. This is the fourth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” and “Becoming Real.”

After the Sermon on the Mount Jesus begins in earnest His mission of reaching people far from God and displaying the kingdom of God. He does the work and then invites His followers into the work.

You can join in with the daily devotional for this series online, as a downloadable PDF, via the Eastbrook app, or through a limited-run of paper copies available at our in-person worship services or by reaching out to the Eastbrook Church office.

Join us each weekend of this series in-person or via Eastbrook at Home.

Here are the weekly topics for the series:

May 9 – “The Messiah Heals” – Matthew 8:1-17

May 16 – “The Messiah’s Call” – Matthew 8:18-22

May 23 – “The Messiah’s Authority” – Matthew 8:23-9:8

May 30 – “The Messiah’s Followers” – Matthew 9:9-17

June 6 – “The Messiah Delivers – Matthew 9:18-34

June 13 – “The Messiah Sends” – Matthew 9:35-10:25

June 20 – “The Messiah Sends, part 2” – Matthew 10:26-11:1

June 27 – “The Messiah and the Forerunner” – Matthew 11:2-19

July 4 – “The Messiah’s Challenge and Invitation” – The Messiah’s Challenge and Invitation

July 11 – “The Messiah and the Sabbath” – Matthew 12:1-21

July 18 – “The Messiah and Satan” – Matthew 12:22-37

July 25 – “The Messiah’s Sign” – Matthew 12:38-45

August 1 – “The Messiah’s Family” – Matthew 12:46-50