As I've prepared to move on from leading the churches of Kemsing and Woodlands, I've needed to think what I want to say as I leave. What words of farewell, of fare well, would I leave our church family with.
I settled on Acts chapter 20:13-38. As I explained (see below), these were Paul's words of farewell to the church in Ephesus. They are recorded in Acts because they were typical of what Paul said every time he came to say goodbye to a church where he'd had significant input. They are the words that God the Holy Spirit wants every church in every age to hear as it considers the direction of travel in the next chapter of its life. So I unfolded those verses over my final 4 Sundays.
Just as those words are of wider relevance than Paul and Ephesus, so they are of wider relevance than me and Kemsing & Woodlands churches. So I thought I'd link to the talks on here.
This website contains rough transcripts of various series of sermons I've given. This series of 4 was given without working from a full manuscript, because I've recently changed the notes I use to preach from. (I might blog what I've discovered about notes and scripts at some point, but that's for another day). So I can't post a transcript of what I intended to say. Instead, I'll link to the 4 talks on YouTube, so you can listen if you wish.
Talk 1: "Paul in Ephesus" (Acts 20:13-24)
If you had to say goodbye to a church and leave it going in the right direction, what would you say? We don't have to work this out for ourselves. Luke included these verses in Acts 20 to let us hear what Paul had to say whenever he found himself in that situation. This talk looks at the first 10 verses, where Paul recaps his own time in Ephesus and his priorities there in life and ministry.
Talk 2: "Shepherds of the Church of God" (Acts 20:25-28)
As a church prepares to be launched into the years ahead (either as a new plant or as an existing church looks ahead to its next chapter), it's really important to know: Who's church is it? What is the role of those appointed to leadership? What will hold those leaders to account so that they don't abuse the authority they've been given?
Talk 3: "Savage Wolves" (Acts 20:29-31)
When the time comes for a key leader to leave a church, there are dangers around the corner for that church. As we hear the apostle Paul prepare a church for this (deliberately recorded in the Bible so that we can listen in, as these dangers are typical in every place and every age), it is a huge shock to discover where these dangers will come from. Listen carefully, to find out, and to see how the church can be prepared and on guard.
Talk 4: "Grace and Generosity" (Acts 20:32-38)
The very last thing you say is often the most important and the thought you want people to be left with. As Paul prepares to say goodbye to the church in Ephesus, this chapter of Acts tells us what he wanted to leave them with. In this talk, we look at the very final verses of that farewell speech and discover that, of all the most important things Paul wants to say, the most important of all is to bring them back to God's grace and generosity. That's what it's all about.