Ministry Strategy - Acts 13:4-15 NIV
We see a pattern of ministry outreach followed through the rest of Acts. It's still a good pattern to follow for our ministry today.
#1 - ___________________ with other Christ-followers.
There are no lone ranger Christians. You need to be in church! And there are no lone ranger ministers. You need to partner in ministry!
"The two of them (Barnabas and Saul)... John was with them as their helper." Acts 13:4a and 5b NIV
Not just Barnabas and Saul. Later on these two split, but each takes on a partner - Barnabas and John Mark, Saul and Silas. Jesus also sent his disciples out in groups of two. Very good practical reason for this:
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up... Two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:10-12 NIV
The way I read this is that partnership of two is a minimum. Three is even better. Not only can two or three look out for one another, their resolve is stronger. When one is discouraged, the other can encourage. For some of us, our natural inclination is to go it alone. Don't have to check in with anyone. Move quickly. But it's a fool's path. Wisdom tells us this:
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 NIV
Especially when you're excited to get something started and just want to get going... STOP. Find a partner or more. Pray about it. If God is truly calling you, He will be calling someone else to partner with you. The end result (ministry) will be much stronger for it!
#2 - _____________ the Holy Spirit's lead and power.
I'm sure you have seen this one by now, but just about every chapter in Acts is filled with the leading of, the power of, the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
"The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit." Acts 13:4b NIV
In any ministry you pursue, you WANT to be sent on your way by the Holy Spirit! You will need Him! I'm so impressed by the genuineness of what is happening by the March of Prayer. On April 3 many pastors and prayer warriors are gathering here to pray and ask Holy Spirit, "What's next?"
Not only do you want Holy Spirit's leading, you must have His power!
"Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said..." Acts 13:9 NIV
We will talk more about opposition in a moment, but you must have Holy Spirit's power to succeed in ministry (and remember that each one of you is a minister.) Paul was naturally outgoing and even confrontational. So we could understand Paul confronting the enemy. But even with Paul, there was Paul... and then there was Paul + the Holy Spirit. Luke wanted to make sure we knew this confrontation was Holy Spirit led and powered.
#3 - _____________ the gospel at home.
This one might surprise you, but it's important and it's one we mess up all the time. Start at home!
"When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues." Acts 13:5a NIV
Remember that the first place Paul wanted to go was home base - Jerusalem with the disciples. They sent him to Tarsus. Barnabas got him and took him to Antioch. Then they returned to Jerusalem. Then back to Antioch (also home base). From there they were sent out. Each new city they went to, they stopped in at the Jewish synagogue first. Preached the good news of Jesus to God's people first. Each new location always started at home. Remember Jesus' instructions? "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:9
Why is it we want to start at the ends of the earth first? This may be why we struggle so with our consistency. We are one kind of Christian at home or work or school, and then another kind of Christian when we put our ministry cap on. Could be why the church struggles with the 20-40 age bracket.
"Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV
We always think of this in financial terms. But how much MORE TRUE is this when it comes to ministry and faith leadership! Start at home! Don't win the world but lose your family!
#4 - Expect twin opps:
Unrealistic expectations have killed so many beginning ministries...
A. ________________ from the enemy and from within.
Everywhere Paul and Barnabas went, they faced opposition. Example:
"But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul form the faith." Acts 13:8 NIV
This was just the beginning. They were expelled from the Perga region. The Jewish leaders in Iconium stirred up the Gentiles against them. The city was divided. They were mistreated and stoned. They had to flee to Lystra and Derbe, where the crowds loved them so much they wanted to sacrifice to them as Gods. But then Jews from Antioch came and stirred up the crowds to stone Paul. They dragged him to city limits thinking him dead. One place after another saw victory followed immediately by persecution. NOT an easy life. EASY to be discouraged. Not the worst!
Persecution From within...
"From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem." Acts 13:13 NIV
Anyone who is a veteran of ministry will tell you that the most challenging opposition is the opposition that comes from within. From friends. Those you thought you could count on don't stick it out. Abandon you. That hurts the most. John Mark leaves them. It's just too much. Paul feels betrayed. Barnabas feels disappointment. No matter how much you expect it, it still hurts when it happens.
No one (except Mary Kay) that I thought would be a partner to me when I started Church Requel stuck it out. I can't begin to tell you how hard that is. But what I've learned...
Whenever there is opposition, look for opportunity!
B. ___________________ for the gospel.
Surely Paul and Barnabas were still smarting over the loss of John Mark. But they carry on and...
"After reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, 'Brothers, if you haver a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.'" Acts 13:15 NIV
That was all the encouragement Paul needed! They had a great week. The next Sabbath the whole city shows up to the synagogue. Jewish leaders become jealous and heap abuse. This is the cycle. Opportunity followed by opposition. Opposition followed by opportunity.
Effective ministry, ministry that counts for the Kingdom of Heaven cannot always be measured on the day or the week it is delivered. And if we tried to measure it, we would surely often think we have failed miserably. Ministry is not for the faint of heart. Ministry is not for the loner. Ministry is not for the one without God's Holy Spirit to guide and lead him.
In this church everyone is a minister. Are you ready? Are you up to the challenge?