How to Use this Guide
Whenever we approach the Bible we can interact with it in a couple different ways. Some approach the Bible as scholars while others approach it as soldiers.
A scholar wants to learn as many details as possible to ensure they have exhaustive knowledge of the subject matter. They want to be the expert. A soldier, however, wants to learn as many details as possible in order to fulfill the mission. The more you understand the enemy, terrain, tactics, culture, and past victories, your mission stands a much better chance of success. As Christians, we have been recruited as soldiers into the mission of God.
As soldiers in God’s mission, we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the demonic forces of darkness. We are not sent into the ends of the earth to establish a tyrannical earthly rule. We are sent to participate with God as he establishes his gracious and beautiful kingdom. We engage the world, not in bloody warfare, but with the good news that Jesus shed his blood for sinful and broken people. In short, soldiers of the mission of God are sent into the world to push back the darkness.
Scholarship has its place in the church. Scholars can be very beneficial to the church, and we shouldn’t cast it off. Yet as we approach the Book of Acts, our goal is not to win Bible trivia as scholars. We instead study the Book of Acts in this guide as soldiers, ready and willing to continue the glorious mission started in chapter one.
This booklet has been laid out to equip us as soldiers. It’s designed to equip you individually as you study the Book of Acts for yourself and then to be sharpened in community as we study the book together. Every week of the study is divided into four sections: Study the Scriptures, Go Deeper, Learn Together, and Integrate Into Life.
Study the Scriptures
In the first section “Study the Scriptures,” you personally get the chance to read Scripture for yourself. You don’t need an expert to teach you the Bible. All followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit to teach you the Bible as you study it for yourself (John 14:26).
In addition to spending time studying the scriptures for yourself, the study will then guide you into a section called “Go Deeper.” This is a time where we can learn from people who have devoted their lives to the Book of Acts. Some of their observations and insights will help us see things we might not have seen on our own.
Once we have studied scripture on our own and gone deeper into the text we will come together and “Learn Together.” We are meant to read the Bible on our own, but we are also just as much designed to learn the Bible in community. Growth and maturity in the Christian life does not happen in isolation, but in community with God’s people. This section of the booklet will guide our time together in Community Groups, in particular our Family Meals and Discipleship Groups.
Family Meals are missional gatherings in multiple neighborhoods all across your city. In these regular gatherings, we enjoy a meal together as a family that follows Jesus. We share the messiness of life, weep and laugh, give and receive. We point each other to Jesus and care for one another. This is where we experience true gospel community. The questions provided in this booklet shape our time together, allowing us to apply the book of Acts to our daily life.
Discipleship Groups are smaller, gender-specific gatherings of three to five people that create a space where you can be honest and authentic with each other, where you can celebrate, encourage, and challenge each other with the Word of God. A space where we invite the Holy Spirit’s presence to meet us and transform our hearts. We pray that this time together would form a deeper, authentic community where we can help each other to grow in intimacy and understanding of Jesus. Here are some exercises that you could use in your discipleship group to make it more beneficial.
- Checking In: Most of us will be stepping into our discipleship groups with our thoughts, emotions, and hearts drawn in different directions from the busyness and demands of the day. Those of you that are comfortable with this, spend some time checking in with others in the group and talk through where you are spiritually and emotionally.
- Stay Gospel-Centered: As we enter this space, it would be helpful to spend some time focusing your heart on the gospel. Our goal is not to make each other moral. Our goal is to be changed by the grace of God with the truth of the gospel.
- Rely on the Spirit and the Word: In our discipleship groups, we need to meet with Jesus and hear him speak to us. We must continually go to the Holy Spirit and his Word and listen to him. Throughout your time together, pray for one another and encourage each other. Worshipping together will also be helpful to recalibrate our heart’s focus on Jesus.
Integrate Into Life
After studying the Bible for ourselves and in community, we must “Integrate into Life” by applying what we’ve learned into our heart, mind, soul and strength. It’s a shame to focus on such great truths from Scripture and then stop short of actually doing anything about it. None of us want to waste our time spent in scripture and community. The “Integrate into Life” section will help us to apply what God is teaching us each week into our life.
Most people will not go through all four sections in the same day. You can go through the booklet however you like, but we recommend you go through the “Study the Scriptures” and “Dig Deeper” sections before the sermon each week. Take notes in your booklet during the sermon, and then go through the “Learn Together” section during your Community Group time. After you have processed the verses together in community don’t forget the crucial “Integrate into Life” step.
At the end of this booklet, there are various resources laid out for the Book of Acts, including all the sources we quote in this booklet. Feel free to utilize these resources to deepen your study of Acts.
Please use this moment in the life of the church to be all-in for what God wants to do in and through us during this series. The time spent in this booklet will not return void. The Lord will use it in your life and in the life of our Church.