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Using the Acts Model for Christian Education Ministry:
Rev. Jerome Council
Rev. Jerome Council
A Fruitful Means of Building God’s Kingdom
by Rev. Jerome Council
Salt Lake City, Utah

Empower, equip, and mobilize for action is the process whereby the New Testament church (Acts 2) operated and remained fruitful. This process can be collectively viewed as Christian Education (CE) ministry in action and building God’s Kingdom today.

My purpose in presenting this article is to assist clergy and laity who are interested in organizing a fruitful CE ministry or "jump starting" one already in place which has proven fruitless, or shows no growth. The term "growth" here is not intended to necessarily refer to numerical growth, but more importantly, the spiritual growth and motivation of those involved in CE ministry whether they are leaders or followers.

I do not propose to be an "expert" in CE ministry, however, having spent some twenty years in Christian Education ministry as a preacher, teacher, administrator, counselor, and coordinator to include more than seven in pastoral care, I propose to offer some insights I have studied and applied from various writers and other pastors and their experiences.

Further, I will present insights from published writers whom I humbly find their experiences much more extensive and certainly many more years of experience in the Christian ministry and pastoral care.

A plethora of resources are available to assist those who are serious about empowering, equipping, enlightening, mobilizing, and motivating members of the body of Christ in one of the most important ministries of the church. Articles have been written, sermons have been preached, many, many books have been written that present how to achieve success in the CE ministry. Each year, pastors, ministers and laypersons attend workshops, seminars, conventions, and conferences searching for "fresh ideas" and the "latest and greatest" in Christian Education. The latest source used by the computer literate Christian educator to find just the “right recipe” is searching the World Wide Web or Internet using the various "search engines" available.

The church should become, once again, an instrument in the hands of God as it was in the Acts of the Apostles, and thereby become a powerful force of righteousness and salvation in this world. [1] Since the body of Christ is the means of a fruitful CE ministry, it follows that the message to effect change in the hearts of her members is the scriptures—preached, taught, and modeled by the CE leaders and workers.

W.A. Criswell stated that he believed the Holy Scriptures to be the veritable truth of the Lord and found in them the answer to all human problems. The Word of God contains the principles of human adjustment and emotional growth, which were revealed by the Lord from heaven long before the advent of modern psychology. The human race fundamentally does not change. Death does not change. Sorrow does not change. Sin does not change. Judgment does not change. The tragedies, sorrows, and sins of ten thousand years ago are the same sorrow and tears we know today. The perplexities that baffled our ancestors baffle us today. From philosopher to peasant the same questions are asked; they differ only in the degree of their sophistication.[2]

Rev. John Flavel stated that the scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying. [3] The scriptures are the fabric of the church and Jesus Christ is her foundation. The New Testament church is literally about Jesus' disciples carrying out His ministry (Matt 28: 19-20) enabled by the Holy Spirit. Without the driving force and power of the Holy Spirit operating within them, Peter and the rest of the disciples could not have done anything on their own.

Jesus taught these twelve men, by example, during his three-year ministry how to preach and teach the scriptures. The disciples in action is Christian Education in action—preaching and teaching people to believe in Jesus Christ, repent and receive salvation; healing of their diseases and teaching people to care for each other. In other words, the Holy Spirit was "acting" through the leaders of the church to bring people to Christ. The role of the Holy Spirit is "a change agent" for transforming lives of the believers.

Acts of the Apostles chapters 1 and 2 provide the recipe for fruitful Christian Education ministry that enables a congregation to carry out God's will of teaching, baptizing, and making believers whose lives are ready for the transformation process of the Holy Spirit. Today's Christian Education ministry leaders must be faithful to the same "great commission" Christ issued to the Early Church disciples (Matt. 28: 18-20).

Although there are many resources for developing a fruitful Christian Education ministry, it is this Christian educator's belief that the starting and ending place is the Biblical model in Acts 1-2. Think about it! After all is said and done, isn't the Lord's way the best way to do the Lord's work of Christian education?

The Early Church model consists of three key factors:
1. Empowering the CE leadership
2. Equipping the followers
3. Mobilizing the followers by example

Just as Christian Education ministry leaders must prepare themselves for CE ministry today, the New Testament Church leaders prepared themselves for CE ministry through their obedience to the Lord. (Acts 1: 1-4) Jesus had completed his mission of dying on the Cross and rose from the grave. He gave the disciples specific directions to "wait" on the Lord and they obeyed Him. Often CE ministry leadership fails to wait on God in their ministry. They are not prepared, let alone been empowered. Christian Education leaders must "wait" on the Lord to empower them for ministry. Jesus tested these men to see if they would obey Him or "do their own thing." The work of CE ministry is the Lord's work; hence, leaders must wait on the Lord to provide the “power” to lead them to do the Lord's work.

Before Christian Education leaders and staff can generate power, they must be plugged into the power source. A conversion experience is a prerequisite. CE ministry workers must view the work of Christian education as an imperative and believers are anointed and sent from God to preach, teach, pray, counsel, and prepare people for the Lord and His return. Compassion must be present along with passion for the work of CE ministry. CE ministry workers must view their own brokenness and the time when they were once healed and made whole by Jesus Christ and accept the fact that the same possibility exists for those whom they will serve. We must never lose our passion and compassion for rescuing the people of God by throwing out the lifeline of Christ to someone who is sinking away. However, CE ministry workers need first of all to be delivered and empowered.

To illustrate the importance of no power source, if your family had to replace all the electrical appliances in your home, you know the bill would be a big one. Refrigerator, washing machine, stove, radio, TV, mixer, toaster—just think of all the big and little gadgets at your house! Each one saves you time and energy. Yet under one circumstance all the appliances become absolutely worthless to you. You can name it, can't you? A power blackout. Something goes wrong—a bolt of lightening hitting a transformer, for example, an ice storm, a hurricane or any one of a dozen things—and your home is plunged into total darkness. No power. No go. [4] Christian Education ministry is a waste of time unless the leaders are empowered by the Holy Spirit as the disciples were on the Day of Pentecost.

Thus, fruitful CE ministry must be directed and coordinated by pastors, teachers and other staff who are "filled with the Holy Ghost." In Acts 1: 5, 8 (NIV), Jesus told those eleven leaders whom He would leave in charge of His church, "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 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."

After Jesus reminded the disciples of His plans to go back to His Father in Heaven, He then directed them, "Stay put, brethren for you need to wait on the Lord." And these men and women obeyed the Lord, returned to Jerusalem (Acts 1: 12-14) began their "upper room experience" in prayer and fasting and organizing the rest of the team as the Lord selected Matthias to fill the gap left by a betraying Judas early on. These members of the New Testament church must have spent time "bonding" through prayers and fasting for the great work of Christian ministry before them as they waited on the Lord.

Today's stress and demands from family, work and church mandates that Christian Education ministry leaders and staff periodically “get away” from the hustle and bustle of being on call 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. For bi-vocational CE workers, this also includes the 9-5 workday plus the Sunday after Sunday demands. It is important to get away to a retreat, camp or other places as a team and just fast, pray, witness, testify, sing hymns, and recognize each other for faithful and exemplary service. CE workers need to recharge their sparks before returning to the fields to plow and cultivate the hearts and minds of God's people and minister to their needs.

How often do those of us whom God has anointed to lead get together for "an upper room" experience? Fruitfulness in Christian Education ministry mandates this. Too often the hearts of those involved in Christian Education ministry are so filled with jealousy and worrying about "who will get the credit" or "who is going to be in charge" that we miss the mark and the people of God go lacking. If the church is ever to mature in Christ, it must have the example and challenge of a mature leadership. Jealousy, pettiness, malice, unforgiveness, and strife are marks of immaturity and are not worthy even to be considered in the experience of maturing Christian ministers. [5] Such conduct among CE ministry leaders and staff drains and weakens them and Satan gets the glory.

The New Testament Church leaders knew that the work of preaching and teaching would require all the power God would muster up within them if they were to stand the rigors of the work ahead. So they waited patiently on the Lord until the Holy Spirit arrived, just as their Master had promised them. Fruitfulness in CE ministry requires the leadership to wait on the Lord, fast and pray, but they must possess a spirit of boldness and be daring. Those whom God chooses to serve not only does He endow them with gifts (see Eph. 4: 11-13) but He also strengthens them to stand with conviction, preach and teach the oracles of God!

After the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the disciples had received power, Peter stood up courageously (see Acts 2:14) and cleared the air that the experience that the people from all over the world were witnessing was a "Holy Ghost" experience designed to change the hearts of men! Peter proceeded to preach an empowered message that only the Holy Ghost could have allowed him to preach. Peter did not preach this message on His own but the Holy Spirit enabled and filled him mightily. We know the rest of the story about the great number whose hearts were changed. (Acts 2:37)

When the people respond to the Holy Spirit's power operating within Christian Education ministry leaders, then the leaders need to respond to the needs of the people. Someone has said that people need the Lord. And our churches and communities are filled with those hungry, not only for the power of God’s heart changing Word, but also for the CE ministry servants willing to show the compassion of Christ. Acts 2: 40-47 shows the response of the people to God's Word and the actions of the disciples in feeding them with the Word, teaching them how to love and care unselfishly for each other and thriving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit operating through the disciples. Meeting the spiritual, social, economic, and psychological needs of God’s people should be the primary mission of a Christian educational ministry. The needs are many.

Dr. J. Alfred Smith issued the challenge before us in our churches and communities that is equally relevant today: Wherever wrong reaches out for justice, wherever the poor seek jobs and food, and wherever victims of prejudice cry out of their hurt, the church must be there—because Jesus is there. [6]

Because the needs are so prevalent and the Christian Education ministry pastor has such a demanding responsibility, the leader must "equip the followers" and empower them for ministerial service. Acts 2:42, shows that the Early Church was empowered and fruitful because the leaders taught and equipped the members for ministry. The verse goes on to say, the followers continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, and fellowship and in the breaking of bread and prayers. Bill Hull says in his book, The Disciple Making Pastor, that the pastor who insists that people live up to their God-given calling, often gets labeled as insensitive, non-caring, or too task oriented. The exact opposite is true

The pastor who views Christians as good helpers, but not on his level, has a low and unloving view of the people. The loving and high view means believing the average Christian is a gifted minister of the gospel and can be trusted with important spiritual ministry responsibility. The pastor, who does the ministry, rather than training the people to do it, behaves in an unloving and non-caring fashion. Please note that I did not say that he was unloving and non-caring. I said with respect to this area, he behaves like a parent who will not allow his child to mature. This style of pasturing perpetuates the present environment weakness found in the church. When the pastor must control the ministry and save the best parts of it for the professional staff, people will continue to be weak and parasitic. The pastorate will continue to be unrealistic, and churches will remain environments for the weak and dependent. Not to train and unleash all willing members is the greatest pastoral sin, according to Hull. [7]

Fruitful Christian Education ministry is led by pastors and other Christian educators who are filled with the Holy Ghost, passionate for the ministry of Christian education and empowering those whom they lead by example. This empowerment consists of training and equipping them in the Holy Scriptures for Christ-centered service and mobilizing the body for compassionate Christian ministry.

In conclusion, the Christian Education ministry model in Acts 2 ends with, "…And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved…" (Acts 2:4 46-47). The fruitfulness of the Early church ends on a high note to remind us Christian educators that Christian service is all about lifting up Jesus—the bread of life!

Not lifting the pastor, the minister, the chairman of the deacon or deaconess board, the mission president, the youth director, trustee chairperson, the member who pays the biggest tithe, the member who is perceived to be the "pillar" of the church, the choir member who sings the sweetest song, or the member who jumps the highest!

Fruitful Christian Education ministry is all about JESUS!!!

So, pastors and other Christian education workers—allow the Holy Spirit to empower and enable you to equip God's people for compassionate care of one another, mobilize the group for daily living by feeding them with the pure bread of life—Jesus Christ! Then stand back and let the Lord bring forth a bountiful crop of healthy fruit, which enriches all who come to enjoy it! Amen! Amen! Amen!

Rev. Jerome Council is the retired pastor of True Vine Baptist Church in Kaysville, Utah. He is an associate minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah and President of the Ministers Division of the Intermountain General Baptist State Convention. An accomplished teacher, evangelist, pastor, and Christian educator, Rev. Council has held numerous leadership positions in the church and community. Rev. Council's objective is to use the inspired Word of God, sound Biblical preaching and teaching to develop and build men, women, boys and girls to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. He is happily married for twenty-five years to Mrs. Lucille White Council.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are used by permission. Rev. Council is a past contributor to

[1] Amos Jones, Jr., The Church of Power (Nashville, TN: Darden Publishing Co., 1981) p.x
[2] W. A. Criswell, Why I Preach That The Bible Is Literally True (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1969) p. 170
[3] L. G. Jordan, The Baptist Standard Church Directory and Busy Pastor’s Guide (Nashville, TN: Sunday School Publishing Board, 1997), p. 99
[4] Lowell Saunders, The Church Marches On (Denver: Accent Publications, Inc., 1987), p. 6
[5] Franklin M. Segler, Theology of Church and Ministry (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1960), p. 115
[6] J. Alfred Smith, Jr., Outstanding Black Sermons: The Future of the Black Church (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1976), p. 75
[7] Bill Hull, The Disciple Making Pastor (Tarrytown, NY: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1988), p. 75

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