Editor’s Note: First, this blog doesn’t have an editor, so this is just a David note. Second, yesterday was the first weekday this year I didn’t post a blog post. Sorry about that! Somewhere in getting 3 kids home from Ruston, LA to Pascagoula, MS, me writing a devotion just wasn’t in the cards. Yesterday’s reading should have been Acts 18.
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 19.
Since I’m writing for two days, I thought I’d point out something I learned more generally from the book of Acts by reading James Montgomery Boice’s commentary. He points out that Paul had a very wise strategy for growing the church. I think his insight is helpful as think about how our churches should grow. This is a modified excerpt from Boice’s commentary on Acts where he explains Paul’s main goals in church planting:
1. To preach a message, one that demanded personal repentance and conversion. Sometimes when people think of advancing into new areas, they think of changing their message to accommodate the new audience or situation. Are we going into the cities? If so, we think we will have to say what city people want to hear. Are we going on television? If we are, we think we imagine that we will have to do what the television audience has been programmed to expect. The apostle Paul never changed his message. He taught the nature of sin, the need for repentance, the saving work of God in Christ, and the necessity of conversion. Paul always kept personal repentance and conversion before his mind. We have already seen it in the accounts of these missionary journeys.
2. To plant churches. Paul was not just an evangelist who somehow was removed from the task of planting churches. When he went into a new area, church planting was a goal. If he settled in Corinth, he wanted to leave a church in Corinth when he passed on to other cities, and he wanted to leave Corinthians in charge of it.
3. To use his churches as bases for reaching out into adjoining areas. Once Paul had established churches he also drew them into his missionary strategy by using them as bases for the extension of the gospel into the surrounding neighborhoods and the world.
God’s Word gives us helpful insight here on how to think about missions. These three goals are not so much three steps as they are a loop. When we go on mission trips, we are typically starting with goal 3 by partnering with a local church, doing goal 1 by using our unique influence as “foreigners” to share the gospel, and seeking to help the local church do goal 2. Every time a new church is planted, there is a new base site for the kingdom to advance further.
I used to dream of what I called “helicopter drop” missions. Just drop me in a country somewhere and I’ll go for it like a Lone Ranger. This is not the biblical model. Praise God he’s given us churches to partner with and churches to plant.
Questions for reflection:
How can you be apart of advancing God’s kingdom in the ways we discussed?
What are some other lessons you can learn from how the early church pushed the gospel forward?
What can you do today to help with each goal? (1: How can you share your faith? 2: How can you give or serve to help church planting efforts? 3: How can you work with your local church to shine as a light?)
Grace & Peace.