In Acts 13:1-3, the church in Antioch responds to the Holy Spirit’s direction to send Paul and Barnabas out to plant churches. The churches Paul plants on his first missionary journey are those he writes to in Galatians. Three things stand out to me in the first few verses of Acts 13. I think we can learn from and be challenged by each. First, the church in Antioch is blessed with many men gifted for ministry (v. 1). As a church near our denomination’s seminary (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), we have the privilege of incorporating and providing a training ground for future pastors, missionaries, and other ministers of the Gospel. The second thing I notice is that they were actively listening for God’s direction in how to spread the Gospel (v. 2). What is God calling us to do to spread the Gospel in this area and around the world? Finally, they respond quickly and excitedly. They send Paul and Barnabas out (v. 3). When we sense God calling us to do something, I hope we respond the same way this early church did. It was probably not easy for several reasons. Paul and Barnabas were gifted Bible teachers and, probably, well liked among the church. Many people benefited from their ministry. Yet, for the sake of the Gospel, the church gladly sends them out.
Two and a half years ago, we challenged ourselves by praying and asking God to deepen our hearts and increase our capacity to send out short-term missionaries and share the Gospel. In His grace, God has led us to do both of those things. The third component to that challenge was to boldly consider planting another Gospel-preaching church in a nearby town in need of one. At the time, I thought that may be a calling our church would pursue on our own. Today, I believe fulfilling that part of our Three50 Challenge will be accomplished through partnering with other local churches. Over the past few months, I have taken part in a few meetings with other area pastors invested in church planting. Nothing has been decided yet, but we are praying about the possibilities of networking together to see Gospel-preaching churches planted in our area. The churches vary in size, age, and budget. In fact, numerically, we are the second largest church considering this partnership.
At this stage, all I would ask you to do is pray with me about it. There are many decisions to be made and more meetings to have. We haven’t decided if this will be an ongoing project or a one-time partnership. We do not know where or even when a church will be planted, though we believe it could feasibly happen in under two years. A big area of discussion is the investment of money, people, leadership, and other resources. We have been accruing funds in our missions account for the last two years, which may serve as a significant portion of our contribution financially. Again, all of this is theoretical, hopeful, and undecided at this point. I did, however, want to tell you about this now. I have been updating the elders regularly and we felt it was important to give an update of progress.
This Sunday, we will continue in Galatians 1:6-10. I will ask and answer the question: What presents the greatest danger to the Church? It should be a great morning. I look forward to seeing you there!
For the sake of His name,