Margaret Wheatley in her book Leadership and the New Science writes about the one rule that guides a self-organizing system (as opposed to a mechanistic, hierarchical system): it must remain consistent with itself and its past. In this discourse on the edge of his death and resurrection, Jesus gives the promise of the Holy Spirit who will launch the followers of Jesus into a whole new mode of existence through the creation of the church.
The coming of the Holy Spirit is completely new. We will see in the coming days how these disciples are transformed and joined together as the church emerges. Yet, there is continuity with the past.
The creative Spirit of creation will launch and guide the fledgling church into the future. The church is always in danger of thinking that we can do ministry on our own. While the Church Growth movement focused the church anew on the importance of evangelism and discipleship with real life results, this emphasis can erroneously lead to a do-it yourself ministry.
The church only functions through the empowerment of the Spirit. This is the message of Pentecost. The church exists and functions only in the power of the Spirit. The church does not fulfill its mission because of our ingenuity, hard work, spectacles, or brilliance. In this passage, the Spirit guides and speaks, and points to what will be. It is the Spirit who reveals, and who brings glory to the Son.
The Spirit drives the church to mission. Lesslie Newbigin wrote: “The mission of the church is the radioactive fallout of an explosion of joy.” The joy known by the disciples is a product of the work of the Spirit. This joy so captured the hearts of the disciples that they could not help but enter into mission.
This mission given to the church is not new. it is part of the missio Dei found throught the biblical narrative. It is a consistent message known in the past and the present. It is the same message and the same movement of God, and yet it is also completely new. This new message, rooted in the past and consistent with the known heart of God, is our mesage to proclaim and movement to live out today.