In the first two parts of this series we have been looking at the founding and growth of a Church Planting Church. The Church at Antioch was…
Purified in the Crucible of Difficulty
Innovative in Evangelistic Approach
Receptive to God-given Growth
Led by Godly Leadership
After a year of teaching and a trip to Jerusalem by Paul and Barnabas to clarify the doctrine of salvation concerning the Gentiles (commonly known as the Jerusalem Council), this almost 2-year-old church was ready to begin its mission.
Birthed in Prayer
“Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting…” (Acts 13:1-2)
It is remarkable the men who were praying. Barnabas’ name means ‘son of encouragement.’ Acts 4:36 describes him as a Levite from Cyprus and he was obviously the leader. Saul’s lineage was from the tribe of Benjamin, however, he was born in the city of Tarsus in modern day Turkey. Simeon possessed a Jewish name but was known by the nickname of Niger, which means ‘dark complexion.’ Lucius of Cyrene was from a place in North Africa. The Jewish name Manaen means ‘comforter’. The word translated “brought up with” (syntrophos) means ‘foster brother.’ Herod the Tetrarch was the son of Herod Antipas. Evidently, Manaen had to be brought up in the court of the Jewish king but had left that behind at some point to follow Christ. The mission of the new church began in prayer.
When I prayed about entering North Africa as a missionary the first time, It was right before the first Gulf War and visas were not being issued easily to my country. I had visited many missionary and relief groups to see if they would sponsor my visa. In desperation after about eight months I was praying at our home in Phoenix and said “Lord, I’ll go live and live in North Africa with my family but You will have to get me in.” This has only happened to me once, but within ten minutes the phone rang and a lady with a Christian refugee group said a friend was coming to Indianapolis, Indiana and was willing to partner with me to enter the country. This individual’s relief agency sponsored the visas of IMB missionaries for almost 15 years. Southern Baptists were able to place residential career missionaries in that country as a direct result of that prayer. Prayer is the beginning of missions.
Chosen by the Spirit
“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’.”
The root of the word translated ‘set apart’ describes a ‘boundary’. The term means place a certain territory set aside for a purpose. In other words; your ‘sphere of influence’. When Paul and Barnabas were called, the word speaks of a solemn call by a high official. In the days of the military draft, some of my friends took their chances in the draft lottery. I did not. I served as an USAF officer. I remember when one of my friends received a registered letter with the opening salutation of; “Greetings!” Even though it was a friendly greeting, it was serious matter to the recipient. My friend was being called to appear at a military induction station. Barnabas and Saul were called by the Holy Spirit Himself. The call of God is very important. I heard Adrian Rogers say once that he was more sure of his calling to the ministry than he was of his own salvation. Rogers said he was quite sure of the latter.
In the church at Antioch there were five leaders identified. Two were called to the mission field while three remained. In other words, 40% of the church leadership felt called to missions and I like that percentage. In 1980 I was happily pastoring a church in Los Angeles County, California. While at Foreign Missions Week at the Glorieta Baptist Conference Center (N.M.) my wife Kathy and I heard about the need for missionaries in Tanzania. We both felt called of the Lord while listening to a mission speaker.
Sent out by the Church
“Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:3.
These were Church-sent missionaries. The Church sent them out. In Southern Baptist missions, each missionary candidate must have a church sponsor them. The Church at Antioch knew their place in missions. Antioch was an Acts 1:8 Church and this church sent out their missionaries. Why was the church at Antioch so special? They went everywhere. They sent a famine relief to the Jerusalem church. They traveled to Judaea and other surrounding areas. They sent their best leaders on a mission to the ends of the earth. Paul and Barnabas began the world mission movement. Since Antioch local churches have been involved in missions. This is a profile on an Acts 1:8 church.
And finally they went. Acts 13:4: “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.” They were sent out and then they went. This last point may seem obvious but often it's the missing last step. What about you? Could it be said about you, ‘They went’? After serving in Tanzania, we were asked to go to begin Southern Baptist work in a country in North Africa. Our children had been in school in Phoenix while we were waiting for visas to enter the country. It took so long to receive a visa that they had two or three going away parties at their Christian school. Bethany and Seth finally said to me, “Dad, we just can’t go back to that school. We have to go somewhere.” Fortunately, finally we went.
In this series of three articles, I have explored what makes up a church planting church by looking at the church at Antioch, a true Acts 1:8 congregation. In regards to the founding of the church at Antioch; It was (a) Purified in the Crucible of Difficulty (b) Innovative in Evangelistic Approach (c) Receptive to God-Given Growth and (d) Modeled Godly Leadership. Furthermore, the mission of a church planting church (as represented by the Church at Antioch) was (a) Birthed in Prayer, (b) Chosen by the Spirit, and (c) Sent Out by the Church.