Living in The Book of Acts

By: Aaron Rosa

About mid-October of last year my son asked me why I was so tired. I told him I had spent the day living in the book of Acts.

Planting a church is not easy, and with the whole of human knowledge at our fingertips these days, it can quickly be reduced to strategies, techniques and surveys. But in the book of Acts, church planting is surprisingly simple. In certain places, the Spirit of the Lord prepares the hearts of a few, calls missionaries, and arranges a meeting between the two.

Sometimes this happens dramatically, like on Pentecost in Jerusalem, and sometimes it happens subtly, when Paul meets a middle-aged, single professional woman at the local watering hole in Philippi– but it always happens in the same way.

Tim Keller has a pithy saying, “If you want to plant a successful church, find out where a revival is going to be, then plant a church there ten years before.” It sounds deceptively easy but the true difficulty lies in the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, the Spirit is like the wind which blows where it pleases and is impossible to predict.

Jesus liked to compare things to weather phenomena, and later trained His disciples to recognize moves of the Spirit by tell-tale effects around them. The Spirit shines in darkness, He is evident in the hearts of those receptive to the Gospel and He makes His dwelling with the least of us.

These are the things I saw in the Harbor House public housing community over a year ago, things that motivated our team to labor faithfully in “the neighborhood” multiple times a week, every week for over a year.

We followed the lead of the Spirit in helping a man set up a large wedding tent, buying him a missing piece, then rejoicing in God’s provision when the man asked us to use the tent every week for our gathering. We saw the Spirit in a transgender resident who would weekly come and chastise me while I was preaching, yet who eventually asked me to read him Bible stories. When we found out he had been hit by a bus, his eyes teared up when he realized we were the only people to visit him at Baltimore Shock Trauma.

But there were many days when we wondered if the Spirit had left this place. When the days and hearts seemed dark and cold. When our tiny church suffered. A new believer was battered and raped and we sat in a dark apartment listening to her grapple with why Jesus would allow this to happen to her. Our tent was suddenly removed by the housing authority and our ministry had to pivot to home visits. My Monday mornings were all too often occupied with calling the flock in the neighborhood to make sure they were alright following weekend gang shootings in the news. As a team we cried out in prayer for the Lord to fill us again with the Spirit.

Then one morning, while praying in front of the city administrative facility in the neighborhood, we were invited in by the staff. They shared with us some of their struggles and we were able to encourage them with scripture and when we left we felt reaffirmed in the Lord's calling.

Scripture describes the Christian life as wholly dependent upon the Spirit, guided by the Word to glorify the Father. I can think of no better description of the last year in the neighborhood. Recently, the Lord has granted access to the recreation center, a physical building with lighting and climate control. Our invitation and reach has spread far beyond our corner of Harbor House to adjoining Eastport Terrace and the surrounding Hispanic population. We gather weekly around the Word, we worship the Father and build each other up in the Spirit.

Each member of our team still goes to bed tired at night–tired because we’ve been living in the book of Acts.