The Book of Acts: The Ever-Expanding Church

How God’s power persists in a rapidly changing world

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Connecting the stories and teachings in the Bible to our complex lives and modern society can sometimes feel challenging. In a world that is constantly evolving, we can often yearn for deeper, more genuine connections to our faith. Have you ever questioned, "How can I really apply and embody Scripture in my everyday life?"

"The Book of Acts: The Ever-Expanding Church'' offers a unique and hands-on opportunity to bridge that gap between ancient wisdom and modern life application. Experience the book of Acts in a new light alongside Steve Thomason, a skilled artist and insightful educator. Steve approaches this foundational book with a uniquely creative lens, offering a fresh and enlightening perspective on its tales of our Christian origins through his own vivid illustrations. He is joined by New Testament scholar Dr. Catherine Wright for in-depth conversations about the mysteries of Acts.

We'll journey through the stories of the early church, discovering practical ways to embody Scripture’s teachings in normal everyday life as well as the curveball challenges that life sometimes throws at us. Together, we'll learn to navigate today's church life and engage more deeply with our communities. By the end of this course, faith seekers, disciples, and leaders alike will have the opportunity to discover the vitality of Scripture and the relevance of the early church to your life, community, and congregation today.

What You'll Learn

  • Discover the Story of Acts: Review the overall narrative, structure, and pivotal themes of the book of Acts, connecting the ancient text to contemporary Christian life.
  • Experience the Holy Spirit: Dive deep into the workings of the Holy Spirit in the early church and affirm the Spirit’s continued activity in your own spiritual journey.
  • Explore Power and Witness: Learn about the divine power granted for good in the world and how to effectively witness the Gospel in diverse contexts.
  • Examine Early Church Dynamics: Analyze the mission, composition, and practices of the early church, drawing parallels and contrasts with the church of today.
  • Practical Application: Engage in thoughtful exercises, applying the stories from Acts in both personal faith and communal ministry contexts.

About this Course

  • Modules

12

  • Learning Elements

91

  • Videos

32

  • Practices & Activities

18

  • Time

10 hours, 30 minutes

  • Price

$55

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Here's What's Inside...

Get oriented to the course, meet your instructor, download the interactive handbook, and more.

In this module, you will:

  • Connect Acts to the Gospel of Luke.
  • Investigate the key themes of the course: Power, Holy Spirit, Witness, Church.
  • Learn the basic outline and context of Acts.
  • Build an awareness of the Holy Spirit at work.

In this module, you will:

  • Be encouraged that the disciples were ordinary people.
  • Connect the story of Pentecost with God’s promise to Abraham to bless all nations.
  • Become more attuned to the Holy Spirit's work in your life.

In this module, you will:

  • Identify the key characteristics of the first church in Jerusalem.
  • Examine divisions and responses to divisions in the early church and in the church today.
  • Build your willingness to obey God to the point of sacrifice.

In this module, you will:

  • Examine the story of Peter and Cornelius.
  • Compare the cultural taboos associated with Peter’s invitation to visit Cornelius with similar taboos in your own context.
  • Wonder about how the Holy Spirit may be navigating those cultural barriers and taboos today.

In this module, you will:

  • Notice the shift in power in the church from Jerusalem to Antioch.
  • Examine the story of Agrippa I and think about what commentary Luke might be making about power in this story.
  • Note the multiethnic nature of the leadership team in Antioch. Examine your own faith community to wonder how it does or does not reflect the demographics of your geographical context.

In this module, you will:

  • Examine Paul’s speech to the synagogue in Antioch Pisidia and discover the key elements of the Gospel in the Jewish context, according to Paul.
  • Consider how the concessions made by Jewish believers in the Jerusalem Council may apply to your own context of navigating difficult cultural tensions.

In this module, you will:

  • Examine the story of Lydia and consider the implications it might have on starting new ministries in your context.
  • Explore the story of the slave girl and Paul’s imprisonment and discuss the implications of power in that story.
  • Consider the differences in Paul’s speech in Athens to his speech in Antioch Pisidia. Explore the implications of how the way we speak about Jesus might change based on context.

In this module, you will:

  • Explore the story of the sons of Sceva and identify some key learning points about the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Consider the story of Paul in Ephesus and examine the implications for how the Gospel interacts with politics and economics.
  • Identify key aspects of church leadership based on Paul’s conversation with the elders of Ephesus.

In this module, you will:

  • Explore the power dynamics between present in the context of the early church, and consider what implications that might have for current church politics.
  • Continue to look at Paul’s witness as he speaks to varied audiences.
  • Reflect on Paul’s position as a prisoner in these stories and the implication it has on how we hold our task of witness.

In this module, you will:

  • Reflect on your favorite parts of Acts.
  • Record your lingering questions and make a plan to pursue them.
  • Meditate on the four key themes of this course—Holy Spirit, Power, Witness, and Church—and determine a plan to practice ways to grown in these areas based on what you learned in the course.

Find out your next steps as you complete the course. You'll also be encouraged to submit feedback about your course.

You'll Learn How to Tell the Story
An animated map of the Aegean Sea and surrounding region, as the setting of events occurring in the book of Acts

Whether you're a clergy member, church volunteer, ministry innovator, or simply someone seeking to deepen your faith, "The Book of Acts: The Ever-Expanding Church" offers an enriching experience. This course goes beyond traditional Bible study; it's an invitation to dive into the art of storytelling in Christianity. Journey through one of the most pivotal books of Christian Scripture and learn how to vividly and effectively tell the story of Jesus, discovering its ability to inspire, connect, and resonate within your life and community today.

Gain Instant Access

Here's everything you get for just $55:

  • Engaging Content: The course is packed with engaging lectures, interactive discussions, and thought-provoking activities, all accessible on-demand to suit your schedule.
  • Reflective Learning: Each module includes reflective questions that will challenge you to deepen your relationship with God and see the Holy Spirit at work.
  • Real-World Relevance: The course focuses on the practical application of Acts' teachings, ensuring that you can translate what you learn into real-world actions and decisions in your faith community.
  • Access to a Private Social Network: Join a diverse online community of ministry leaders, learners and volunteers to share insights, experiences, and grow together in faith and understanding.
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Meet Your Instructors

  • Rev. Dr. Steve Thomason

    Rev. Dr. Steve Thomason’s passion and purpose intersect in the areas of theology, spiritual formation, and art. Mixing a lifelong love of drawing, illustrating, and animating with degrees from Wheaton College, Bethel Seminary, and Luther Seminary, Steve has done everything from owning and operating his own art studio to pastoring an 8,000 member congregation.

    In addition to his faculty position at Luther Seminary, Steve has developed and maintains A Cartoonist’s Guide to the Bible. He is also the author of several books, including The Visual Preacher: Proclaiming an Embodied Word (Fortress Press, 2022), A Cartoonist’s Guide to John (Vibble Books, 2022), A Cartoonist’s Guide to Luke (Vibble Books, 2021), A Cartoonist’s Guide to Mark (Vibble Books), and A Cartoonist’s Guide to Matthew (Vibble Books, 2019).

  • Catherine Wright

    Catherine J. Wright (PhD Baylor) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University. She teaches primarily in the area of New Testament, and has a special interest in Luke and in spiritual formation. She is the author of Spiritual Practices of Jesus: Learning Simplicity, Humility, and Prayer with Luke's Earliest Readers (IVP, 2020).

Connect as you learn

Connect inside the Faith+Lead Learning Lab

Learning happens best when you do it together with folks who are on the same journey as you are.

That's why our private social network, the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, hosts conversations about course content with other learners, instructors, TAs, and community leaders.

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Study together with a small group or congregation

Want to bring The Book of Acts: The Ever-Expanding Church to your Bible study, small group, or even your entire congregation?

Choose "Enroll a Group" at checkout and select how many people you'd like to provide access to the course. You can go through the course together in-person, watch lessons together via Zoom, or even create a private group in the Learning Lab where participants can connect asynchronously.

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Upcoming Live Workshop

  

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