This blog entry is the fifth in a seven day series counting down the days until York Springs Foursquare has its grand opening. You are invited, 10:30 AM Sept. 21!
So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch.
Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch…
…And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.
This is what a healthy church does. Lets look at the elements in this short excerpt from Acts 11.
They did missionary outreach – They went to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch to spread the gospel. There was a group that refused to speak to the Gentiles, but they fixed it and led many Gentiles to Christ. Doing church the right way does not mean you make no mistakes, it means you fix them.
A large number of them came to the Lord– Their evangelism was effective, even cross-culturally to the Gentiles.
They brought in leaders from elsewhere to help establish the church The church in Antioch grew so fast that the leaders in Jerusalem found out about it and sent Barnabus to help develop the church. The church in Antioch knew it needed this kind of help, and accepted it.
Barnabus used his influence as a teacher to help mentor Saul – Barnabus could have done the job himself, but he knew Saul was in Tarsus, and he wanted an opportunity to work with Saul, to partner together, and presumably to train Saul in church life, because Saul was a convert and full of zeal, but was working by himself, without any real connection to a church.
They taught for a full year and led more people to Christ – Many churches seem to believe that you have to choose between being a teacher who teaches believers or being an evangelist who makes new believers. The early church leaders did not see it this way. In fact, a church that is not making new believers is not really a church at all, and a church that is not teaching and developing its new believers is also not a church. A church must do both. It is unnatural to focus on only one element.
They gave to the poor – Another falsehood many churches believe is that they can separate good solid teaching from poverty and compassion ministry. In reality churches must do both, just as Jesus did both.