The heart of God has always been to have a relationship with people. This started all the way back in Genesis. It is exciting to see how Peter and John obeyed God in the book of Acts in spreading the Gospel and making disciples. So did the apostle Paul.
Call to the church
I find it very interesting that when Paul and Barnabas were “commended” to the Lord’s work, the message or the “call” from God was given to the local church leadership (Acts 13:1-3). Today, we would say that the message was given to the elders. The next thing we see is that the elders sent them off to the Lord’s work. In other words, the elders (on behalf of the local assembly) took responsibility to send them off. This also means that Paul and Barnabas were accountable to the leadership of that local church. This again means that the work that Paul and Barnabas were to do, was a ministry that the local elders of their home assembly approved of.
In Acts 14:26-27 we read that Paul and Barnabas returned to their sending church to report to them about the work they had been sent to do. Likewise, it is important that the missionary is also able to go back home, whether furlough or permanent, that they can report to the local church that sent them out.
Known by the church
Unfortunately, what we many times see today is that missionaries drive thousands of miles, almost from coast to coast to report to a group of people they do not know. And the audience does not know the missionary either. This is not what Paul and Barnabas did.
This of course costs money! What if the sending church is not able to financially support this missionary? How about the leaders of the sending church work with the elders of two or three other assemblies? Together, these assemblies (that are geographically close) could work together in this ministry.
Clear focus for the church
It is also very important that the elders of the sending assembly have a clear understanding as to what kind of ministry their local church wants to commit themselves to. This can be a church planting ministry, a Bible translation project, a radio ministry, etc. etc. The needs are great and it is impossible to support everything. Better to focus on one or maybe two strategic ministries than to dabble in a little bit here and a little bit there.
As the leadership of the church does that, it becomes very important that the local fellowship is well informed and challenged about the work their local church is involved in!
Challenge to the church
The 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He prepared His disciples for the job ahead of them. This was a major transition time for the disciples. Jesus would depart, but the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in each individual believer. The job ahead of them was to preach the Gospel – to the ends of the earth. Jesus wants EVERYBODY to have a chance to hear the Gospel.
How have we been doing these last 2000 years? Well, there are still almost 2000 languages in the world that have yet to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a language that they understand.
Let’s get even more involved in spreading the Gospel and making disciples!