Ezekiel's famous vision of the dry bones can be read as anticipating that the ministry of the Son of Man would have two phases. In The Rhetorical Function of the Book of Ezekiel (SVT 76; Leiden: Brill, 1999) I argued that it is not merely for rhetorical effect that the bones are at first only re-constituted with a second act of prophesying required for the bodies to come to life and to stand up as a great army. Ezekiel 37 reflects the belief that it would take more than one generation for Ezekiel's prophecies to have their full effect. Within the first generation, during Ezekiel's oral ministry, the prophet gathers the community around him but without changing hearts and minds (see Ezekiel 33:31-32). This is not success; it is not failure either. It is a first step but more is required. In book form the prophetic word will give life to a future generation (see pages 199-209 for the detailed argument).
This can be related to different ways of hearing God's word. In many synagogues and churches today the reading and hearing of Scripture serves community cohesion, gathering people around a tradition. This is good but not the same as communities receiving life in the hearing of Scripture and so becoming a mighty force to be reckoned with.
Acts 1 tells us that during the forty days following his resurrection Jesus continued to speak with his disciples about the kingdom of God. His ministry prior to the ascension can be summed up as a re-constitution of the people of God, symbolised in the election of twelve disciples. This is completed by the replacement of Judas by Matthias. But the Gospels also show us that Jesus's disciples continually failed to "get it" and so they may remind us of bones coming together, bone to its bone, with flesh and sinews on them - but as yet without the breath of life.
The breath/Spirit is of course given at Pentecost which turns the disciples into a force to be reckoned with, no longer just gathered around Jesus but a people on fire with a mission. This time the major second step takes place within the same generation but similar to Ezekiel's, the ministry of Jesus can be divided in a first phase which focused on gathering and re-constituting God's people around the prophet and a second phase during which the wind/Spirit brings life to the people of God once the prophet has been taken out of sight.
Both movements, the gathering around Christ in word and sacrament, and the sending out to the ends of the earth, are still still important within the church. The second cannot truly happen without the first; the first is not enough without the second.