Acts Devotionals

Ministry Team

I found the following quotations about a Church Ministry Team …

(a) “Christian ministry is teamwork with a difference because followers are just as important as leaders. God uses the efforts of each team member in equally important ways, all unique and special. A collective vision is shared, born of the team members’ collective wisdom, submission, and accountability.”

(b) “The concept behind ministry teams is that people serve together, developing a group identity and moving together toward the accomplishment of certain goals. Consequently, if one of the members is like that sheep that likes to wander off on its own or one of its members is hurt, the whole group will be affected.” I get the feeling that Barnabas understood two things.

(i) The importance of a team doing ministry.

(ii) The importance of having someone of the magnitude and ability of Saul to join the ministry team. Let’s read on:

Ac 11:25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

(1) Saul at this stage was still known by his Jewish name. It was only in chapter 13 that we are introduced to his Greek name:

Ac 13:9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul.

(2) It is difficult to put an exact timeline on Saul’s activities in Tarsus … as it seems as though he dropped out of sight for about seven or eight years. The best we can do is say that God used him amongst the people in and around Tarsus in proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the Word of God, winning souls and maturing the saints for worship and ministry.

(3) It is interesting that Barnabas went to Tarsus, looked for Saul and “found him”. Tarsus is in south-central Turkey, situated on the Tarsus River some 19 to 20 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its prominence in Saul’s day, historians estimate that the population was in the region of 500,000. In comparison, Rome was 1,000,000 people, yet on the down side cities like Alexandria, Carthage, Ephesus and Antioch hovered around 200,000 people. Maybe due to the population of Tarsus, Saul ploughed the Gospel Fields there.

(4) Saul willingly accepted Barnabas’ invitation to help the work in Antioch. There is no discussion mentioned or even Barnabas having to persuade Saul. It seems as though the Holy Spirit put the idea in Barnabas’ mind and went before him to convince Saul that this was what God wanted. What about us in our Churches? Mostly our Churches are small and have little capital to invest in staff. All too often our Churches are “one man” ministries. Seldom in this condition will the Church grow because as we have already mentioned, the pastor and one or two faithful workers do all the mundane things to keep the Church a going concern. They burn out and they causes the Church to drag and falter even more. What are we as ordinary, average Church Members doing about it?

(i) Are we praying for help? I was talking to our daughter Angela and our grandson Nathan today as we did our exercise walk saying … “The Church we belong to does not have a prayer meeting. Maybe we should ask the elders to agree to a weekly prayer meeting to focus on Evangelism and Church Growth.” The congregation is extremely welcoming, friendly, helpful and would like to see growth, but for whatever reason, the numbers are small and the age is mostly elderly. Yes they have asked a local seminary for a senior student who leads the flock, takes Bible Studies, Preaches, Visits and Counsels … but as a student in his Master Degree year … he can’t do much more … and no one can blame him. (I know what it’s like studying for the ministry and running a Church). What is the very first thing we need to do? Pray! If your Church does not have the needed ministries to make it function to meet the many congregational needs, what ought you to be doing for your Church? Praying!

(ii) Are we seeking help? Barnabas went to find Saul to help him. Maybe you don’t know of a specific person who could help the pastor. That is fine but you could find people you could ask … maybe in another Church within that Church’s grouping … or find a Seminary close by and talk to the Dean of Students. When you ask others in the know, they might surprise you by offering someone in their congregation to help or direct you to the source where you could find someone.

(iii) There is a caution though! You need to find the right “fit”. Refrain for taking the first person who comes along or is offered. At your congregational meeting, as you discuss options, make certain why you want help and find a person who is the right fit for the Church and people. Many of us have made mistakes, some very serious ones that have had a negative effect upon the Church in place of a blessing.

(5) The ministry team in Antioch.

Ac 11:26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

What is so surprising is that many Greeks were converted to Jesus. They all needed discipling. Barnabas could not do it alone … so for one entire year together with Saul they discipled the converts. This is profound and rubbishes any suggestion that Church Members do not need to understand the whole counsel of God to enter heaven! These two brothers adhered to Jesus’ instruction:

Mt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Converts need to be thoroughly discipled!

O God our Father, please raise up workers for small Churches to win souls and mature them for Glory. Amen.

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