Succession plans matter in our world. What happens to a corporation when the CEO retires? How will a championship team do when the coach moves on? Will an impactful non-profit organization survive the death of its founder and driving force?
To be honest, Jesus had a suspect succession plan: us. I don’t mean you and me specifically. I mean His disciples and their disciples through the ages. Jesus decided to carry on in the world through the church — a rag-tag collection of people who sometimes have nothing in common but Him.
Against all odds, Jesus’ succession plan worked. Here we are. And, despite all the mistakes Christians have made through the centuries; despite the bad press churches get these days (remember Christopher Hitchens’ book entitled, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything?”); despite the recent downswing in American church attendance – in spite of all that, around 2 billion Christians walk the planet in 2014. And that number is growing.
So how did Jesus pull it off? How did he start with twelve nobodies and end up with 2 billion souls two millennia later? That question has fascinated and flummoxed historians across time. The best place to begin answering it is in the New Testament Book of Acts. So let’s read on!