Separate Administrative Structures for Church and Mission (3rd of 5).
Very few Christian leaders pray and fast and wait to hear, yet this is a biblical pattern for discerning God’s missionary call.
We are saying the Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas as missionaries and, while on their journeys, the Holy Spirit occasionally told them where to go and what to do next. Ralph D. Winter wrote,
Paul was ‘sent off’ not ‘sent out’ by the Antioch congregation. Paul may have reported back to it, but he did not take orders from it.
Paul and Barnabas made team decisions without consulting the Antioch church. Paul and Barnabas’ team was “field-governed.” Some readers will take issue with this, as it is a popular notion that the Antioch church sent Paul and Barnabas and waited for them to return with a report. A careful reading of the Bible indicates otherwise. We wrote about this here. There are separate administrative structures for churches and missionary bands in the New Testament. Paul and Barnabas governed their missionary teams just as much as Antioch (or Iconium or Lystra) church leaders governed their local congregations. The Antioch church was not a sending church. There are no sending churches in the New Testament (no, not one). God is the sending One. Sending is the missio dei. Do not trivialize the difference between the Holy Spirit and the church in the matter of sending. All glory to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for sending missionaries. We hear the call of God when God said to Isaiah, “Who will go for us, and who will we send?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I, send me.” We hear Jesus Christ call us to go to all the nations, because His Father gave Him all authority to send missionaries. Christians in Acts 13 prayed and fasted and and heard the Holy Spirit say, “Set apart for me Paul and Barnabas for the work I have for them.” Christians in Acts 13 discerned what the Holy Spirit was saying, and released Paul and Barnabas to go as missionaries to “the regions beyond.” Let us get down on our knees and worship the God who sends. Jesus said, “As the Father as sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21), If you want to become like Jesus, become a missionary! No wonder Jordan Grooms said, “If God calls me to be a missionary, I would not stoop to be a king.”
Blincoe: What, then, is the mission of the Christian congregation and its leadership? Church leaders today ought to pray and fast and listen. Praying and fasting costs no money and needs no music, sound systems or fog machines. Note to self: how shall we discern His voice when we are rather a noisy people? Very few Christian leaders pray and fast and wait to hear, yet this is a biblical pattern of discerning God’s missionary call. The Holy Spirit is probably not active in a congregation that does not discern God’s missionary call on its members.
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