How Did The Church At Antioch Launch A Great Missionary Work?

There were five leaders in the church at Antioch.  The five guys sharing leadership were:  Barnabas, who had a reputation as an encourager; Simeon called Niger (good chance he was of black African descent); Lucius of Cyrene which is currently a part of Libya; Manaen, who grew up with King Herod (obvioursly upper class); and Saul who had violently opposed and persecuted the church before his miraculous conversion.

This diverse group of leaders didn’t function from positional authority, ego, self-promotion, or tradition.  Instead they sought to corporately hear and obey God’s direction by worshipping and fasting. 

One day they heard these words from God:  “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  So after more prayer and fasting, the three remaining guys laid their hands on the two guys and sent them off. 

Saul’s name was soon changed to Paul and both he and Barnabas became known as Apostles, which means, sent ones.  This began a great expansion of Christianity as Barnabas and Saul/Paul began to travel and plant new communities of believers through out Asia Minor.

In a previous post I told the story of how the first Apostles made a decision to begin to set up an administrative structure in the church of Jerusalem, but immediately after that, the church was demolished by persecution (led by Saul and others).  All the church was scattered except the Apostles (the sent ones) who stayed put in Jerusalem. 

However, Antioch was different.  (Acts 13)  We are not told that the leaders there tried to set up a system of administration.  Instead they sought God in prayer and fasting.  They listened and sought to hear His will.  Once the 5 leaders at Antioch were convinced that they had heard from God, they acted on what they heard and sent Barnabas and Saul/Paul on their way.

Barnabas and Saul were not appointed to be exalted, positional leaders in a local church.  Rather they were sent to go and plant new churches.  However, even in establishing new churches, Barnabas and Saul were not to install themselves as lifetime leaders and controllers of those Christian communities.  Instead Barney and Paul taught new churches to rely on Jesus and to allow Him to be what Apostle Peter called their “Chief Shepherd” which in modern English means “Senior Pastor.” 

The leaders at Jerusalem appeared to want to establish an institutional system.  However, the leaders at Antioch appeared to want to allow the living Jesus to run the show.  What do you think about these two situations?

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About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @ http://amzn.to/2nCr5dP
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17 Responses to How Did The Church At Antioch Launch A Great Missionary Work?

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  12. Mary Pratt says:

    Sir , I am have read the book of Act, but I have been at this Church two years. My pastor is 86, he is teaching that the book of Act is not ment for Gentile, God is talking directly to the Jews, I am saying the reason God mention the Jews First because he was a Jew and the the Gentile second Act 2 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon ever soul of man that doeths evil o, of the Jew, First and also of the Gentile. Please enlighting me of were did the Gentile orignated from

    • Steve Simms says:

      I have never heard that before Mary. I’ve read the Bible, church history, and the writings of many great Christians from the past 2,000 years over the past 40 years and haven’t come across that idea even one time.

      It is dangerous to put restrictions on God’s Word. It is good to ignore a pastor if he teaches things that cannot be backed up by the Bible. Acts is for everybody or it wouldn’t be in the New Testament. Read it and seek to live it out in your life.

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