Introduction to the Acts 1:8 vision
2017 was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Great Reformation. It was driven by the slogan ‘semper reformanda’ (always reforming): that is the idea that the church in each generation ought always to be reforming, or to use a more modern word, ‘recalibrating’, in the light of the word of God and the modern day world.
The factors we consider in order to undertake this recalibration process have been likened to a stool with 3 legs. The first leg is to do with being aligned with God’s original intent and design for the church as revealed in the New Testament. We must never deviate from this, and the reminder of our rich historical roots and the energy and desire that so transformed an ill-equipped group of people into a movement that changed the world. We walk in their footsteps as we do all those who’ve gone before us in this church who have served God so faithfully.
The second leg is the importance of listening carefully to the Spirit as he speaks to us about our specific mission in today’s world. In the book of Revelation, we note that the Spirit speaks individually to each of the 7 churches (Rev 2 & 3). It’s not a one-size-fits-all message but a word that’s unique and personal to each individual church. Our vision should be unique to us here at St Peter’s because the Spirit speaks uniquely to each church. The third leg of the stool is to look at both our setting in Worcester and to observe contemporary culture. These change from year to year and from place to place. Certainly, the challenges that faced me when I started out in ministry are significantly different to some of the issues today. I’m thinking of the changing shape of family life and relationships, the influence of technology, and the pressure of the world of work. Questions like ‘What are the pressing needs of our community and city?’, ‘What is the demographic of our church?’ and ‘What are the prevailing issues we should be contesting for in our culture?’, all reveal important clues. Answers to these questions and others like it reveal how we might connect meaningfully with people in a relevant way. So, our semper reformanda or recalibration is informed by an alignment to scripture, listening to the Spirit, and understanding our setting and culture.
What you have via the link below is the document called Acts 1:8 that outlines a vision for this church for the next season of our lives together. I believe it takes account of all three legs of the stool I mention above. The idea of semper reformanda has been stirring me for over 30 years of full-time ministry. I believe the church unwilling to reform is only ever one generation away from extinction. There is no doubt that this vision has a lot of me in it with its origins in my own journey and my interior world and all that’s forged it, rather than being a broad consultation across the span of the church.
It’s also true that these ideas have been informed by all that I’ve observed since I came to Worcester 12 months ago, both within and beyond the church. Alongside that, I’ve been carefully listening to the Spirit about the particular shape of church He’s wanting us to become. As I’ve pondered, prayed and listened, this Acts 1:8 vision has formed in my mind. I believe what you read here has the potential to take this church forward from good to great. As I’ve presented these ideas with the Vision and Oversight team in recent weeks, we have shared a sense of excitement about them.
This is our time for semper reformanda here at St Peter’s. Whilst it’s more likely to mean evolution rather than revolution, it always takes both courage and faith to change, especially when the church here is viewed by most as strong and healthy, and especially when we might not be clear about where God wants to take us. I hope with all my heart that this vision resonates with you. I am excited, humbled and daunted by the potential of this church in the hands of God, and I am believing God for a future here were the reach of this church goes way beyond our expectations. I trust that you will consider Acts 1:8 carefully and prayerfully and reflect on your place within it, and whether it outlines a direction you believe you can commit to, serve within and sacrifice for.