Act with Boldness!

The church I now attend in Seaford, Delaware, is doing a chapter by chapter worship series through the book of Acts. I have the opportunity to preach occasionally at this church, and my first time preaching in this series was on Acts 4. I love the boldness of the apostles as they are confronted with all sorts of challenges. I encourage you to read Acts 4 for all the details!

Two disciples, Peter and John, were clearly up to no good: they healed a crippled man! The crowd thinks this is wonderful, but the “authorities” are not amused. They arrest Peter and John and throw them in jail. The next morning, they are brought before the Council, the most powerful body in the Jewish community. These are the priests, the scribes, the men who study and interpret scripture for the community, the authorities for the Jewish people. So they ask, “By what power or what name did you do this?” In other words, “we are the authority here, and we know we didn’t give you permission to heal or teach the people.”

Well, Peter and John might have felt the weight of the world on them at that moment. It is a bit of a David and Goliath situation. This is the all-powerful Council, against Peter and John, two working class guys, fishermen from the back country of Galilee. But they didn’t back down one bit. No, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly answers their charges. “If it is because we showed kindness to a man who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to you and all Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” 

It was no contest really. Scripture tells us in 4:13-14, “when the authorities saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were astonished, and took note that these men had been with Jesus.” The leaders don’t know what to do. The evidence is clear and convincing. The crippled man, now healed, is right there, dancing around. So they send Peter and John out so they can decide what to do with these trouble-makers. “Well, we can’t deny that this healing has happened through these disciples, but what are we going to do with these guys? We have to shut this thing down.” After all, 5000 people became believers just that day after the healing of this man, and before the authorities could shut it down.

So they call Peter and John back in and tell them, you better not do that again. No teaching or talking about Jesus. You got that? Peter and John are not one bit intimidated, and once they are released, they go right back to preaching and teaching about Jesus.

Some thoughts for us:

1. Has anyone noticed that we’ve been with Jesus? They realized Peter and John had been with Jesus. Has anyone noticed that you’ve been with Jesus lately, by your actions, or words, or by the change they see in you? Spending time with Jesus changes us. One of the best ways to spend time with Jesus is by reading your Bible. My church is currently in the midst of a one-year challenge to read the entire Bible. What can you do to make sure you are spending time with Jesus everyday by reading your Bible?

2. What do you care about? What is your passion? It is obvious that all is not right with the world. What issues in your community do you care about enough to act? To act and speak boldly? The church exists, in part, to make the world a better place. Imagine if each of us, every Christian in Delaware, in the United States, in the world, acted boldly for a cause we were passionate about? The world would be a very different place. And there is no shortage of examples around us.

Some years ago, a woman in Salisbury, Maryland, where I used to serve a church, was moved by the homeless people she saw in the mornings. It prompted her to act boldly, with the help and support of her church, to start a homeless ministry, which provides shelter and all sorts of services for the homeless.

A young martial arts teacher started instructing older Asian women in self-defense after the rise of hate crimes in their community.

Girls on the Run, which started as a local program in Charlotte, NC, has positively impacted the lives of more than two million 3rd to 8th grade girls over the past 25 years. They say, “We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.” These girls gain confidence through setting and achieving their running goals, as they also learn valuable life lessons.

Lastly, let us pray for the power of the Holy Spirit so that we, too, can act with boldness in our own communities! Amen.

Jesus said, “Go…”

One of the most important things for us to do as the church is “go,” as Jesus says. Jesus never says “come in and sit down and stay in here (the church) forever.” Our command, as believers, is to take the love of Jesus out into the world. The book of Acts gives us the script to follow, and my Acts Bible study “We Are the Church…Let’s Act Like It” helps us learn our part in God’s great story. In this podcast with my favorite Christian radio station The Bridge, we discuss my book and how we can truly go and be the church in our community. Listen now at or on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, and Spotify.

Going Church-Wide

Photo by Rodolfo Quirós on

Doing a church-wide small group study is one of the best ways to get your whole church on the same page (see the previous post for more info). Fall is a great time, but there are other good times as well. January, for example, is another great time. The season of Lent is another natural time.

It’s not as hard as you might think to get your small groups and your worship ministries aligned. To get the most out of it, however, consider the following:

  • Choose a study that appeals to those you want to reach. What you choose will determine who participates.
    • Do you want to reach unchurched people?
    • Do you want to take your core deeper?
  • Choose a study that can be led by anyone.
    • If you go church-wide, you will probably need more small group leaders than you currently have.  
    • If you choose your study strategically, the leader will be a facilitator rather than a teacher (why not call them facilitators). They do not have to be Bible experts.
    • Choose a study that comes with a leader guide to help your first-time facilitators.
  • Choose a study of appropriate length.
    • Eight weeks is the max. In general, 6-8 weeks works well.
    • It needs to be short enough that people who are joining a small group for the first time don’t feel like they are signing up for life.
  • Answer the unspoken questions upfront. People will say, “I’m too busy,” but what they’re really saying is:
    • Will I have to pray out loud?
    • Will I have to share personal information?
    • What if I don’t know much about the Bible?
    • Will it be weird?
    • What if I don’t like it?
  • Remove as many barriers to participation as you can.
    • Provide child care if possible at least for one or more groups.
    • Schedule groups for multiple times throughout the week
    • What other barriers do you know exist for your congregants?

With a little planning, a church-wide small group study can reap huge benefits for your church.

Check out my Acts Bible study guide for your next church-wide study: We Are the Church…Let’s Act Like It. Sermon starters are available here to help with the planning.

Would You Like To Get Your Whole Church on The Same Page This Fall?

Are you thinking about a church-wide small group campaign? If you aren’t, maybe you should be. It’s not too late to get started on a great campaign for this fall. I don’t recommend starting small group studies in September. People just aren’t ready. So use August and September to get ready, choose a study, promote it and get people signed up for small groups that will begin in October.

What exactly is a church-wide small group campaign? It’s a mouthful, but it is really an alignment between your worship and discipleship ministries. In other words, the two ministries are on the same topic. In worship, the pastor presents a sermon series on a certain topic. In their small groups (or Bible study or Sunday School group), the congregation is studying and discussing the same topic.

The real advantage to a church-wide small group campaign is that everyone is on the same page. There is a great synergy (and excitement) created when topics are reinforced across ministries. There is nothing wrong with your small groups doing different studies. But if you want to create some real excitement in your church, I encourage you to try a church-wide small group campaign this fall. Fall is one of the best times, by the way.

  1. A church-wide campaign will get everyone on the same page.
  2. What people are discussing in their small groups they will also hear about in worship. The two work together to reinforce the message and create some real synergy.
  3. A church-wide small group campaign means you will be promoting one thing, and the congregation is focused on one thing.
  4. Church-wide small group campaigns give you the opportunity to increase the number of people in your congregation in small groups. Promote it as short-term commitment or a “test-drive.” Choose your study accordingly (6-8 weeks max).
  5. With a little effort, you can help those groups stay together after the campaign is over. Small groups are the best way to make disciples.

It’s a win-win all the way around! Yes, it takes some time and some planning to get ready, but it is well worth it! May God bless your efforts!

It’s not as hard as you might think. Next, we’ll talk about making it happen.

The Journey Begins


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


Welcome! Thanks for joining me on the journey.

The book of Acts has long been one of my favorite books of the Bible. I became even more interested in it while I was a studying for my MDiv at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. I caught a powerful glimpse of what the church can be in the world in Rev. Dr. Mike Slaughter’s “Missional Church” course. In that course, I also came to understand the power of the book of Acts to revitalize the church.

A few years later, in my position as Associate Pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Salisbury, Maryland, I was feeling led to a study of the book of Acts for our annual church-wide small group study. I discovered there was no shortage of options. However, two trends soon became clear. First, most of the studies I looked at were quite long (8-20 sessions), and therefore not workable in our time frame. Secondly, many of them were just too time-consuming. It seemed that if we were to do a church-wide study of Acts, we would have to create our own resource. That’s how We Are The Church…Let’s Act Like It began. It has truly been a labor of love, as it has afforded me many hours of reading, researching, and writing about the very exciting and inspiring book of Acts.

I love the church, problems and all! I especially love the inspiring and amazing story recorded in the book of Acts, of the early church, which has in so many ways inspired me to pastoral ministry, and inspired me in pastoral ministry.

I also love small groups. It is in small groups that we can get up close and personal with the Word of God. It is in small groups that we come face to face with Jesus and all that Jesus has for us. I will write more about small groups and how they can transform your walk of faith, and just as importantly, how they can transform your church!

As We Are The Church is about to be released, I pray the Holy Spirit will speak to you as you work through the book, read the scriptures, meet with your group, and think through all the implications of this amazing story for your own life, and the life of your church. I pray that you will be inspired to rethink what is possible for your own church.    

Blessings on the journey, Linda Pevey