What Would Paul Do?

Acts 17:22-31
For Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sixth Sunday of Easter

A popular trinket in evangelical circles over the last few years has been the WWJD bracelets. WWJD stands for “What Would Jesus Do”. This is a wonderful question to ask and those who commit themselves to live out the answers will discover lives of remarkable significance and blessing. Yet this passage, Acts 17:22-31, invites a related but different question: WWPD – what would the Apostle Paul do?

Acts 17 gives us a wonderful model for how Paul engaged a multicultural and unchurched audience with the gospel. If Paul were ministering here in my city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, here is how he might get started:

  • identify a place to connect with religiously inclined people of the day (v. 17) (e.g. Cooperating Congregations of Waukesha County)
  • identify a place to connect with religiously un-inclined people in the marketplace (v. 17b) (e.g. Starbucks)
  • engage people in these contexts in a process of reasoning (v. 17a)

Regarding the last point, what might a “process of reasoning” look like? In a multicultural climate in which the only shared value is absolute tolerance a good first step might be to ask people empathetic questions and then listen carefully to their responses. Here are some questions that I’m starting to enjoy asking:

  • what is your greatest aspiration in life?
  • what are your core values? how are you striving to live your life based on those?
  • do you have a philosophy of life? if so, what is it? if not, why not?
  • what do you think is most wrong with the world?
  • what needs to be done to fix this?

If Paul were to coach my church, or me personally, I think his key message might be: “Let’s get out there and engage!” I know a way to give this a try today. I just received an email from a friend who is an artist. I love connecting with art and artists. She’ll be part of a Gallery Night tonight in Milwaukee’s Old Third Ward. If the Apostle Paul were in town today, I bet this is where he would go as well. I’ll let you know how it goes.

My apologies – I wasn’t successful in posting a follow-up to my previous Acts post. Life intervened. I’ll just leave that to you and the Holy Spirit.


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