Paul as churchplanter 4
“For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people”, Acts 11:26 (ESV).
After being threatened in Jerusalem, Paul escapes to his city of birth, Tarsis. For the next few years he is lost from the sight of the Bible writers. Finally Barnabas goes and looks for him, and asks him to help him minister in the church of Antioch, 140 kilometers away from Tarsis.
In Antioch the church is meeting and Paul and Barnabas are teaching. We notice two essential things here for the believers who are called to together form the church in this major city of the ancient world. First of all, they have to meet. That sounds like a trivial statement, but it is not. Just look at the Old Testament. Sacrifices were central to worship there, not meeting as a congregation.
In my own context, where Buddhism is dominant, I also notice that meetings do not take the central role that they do in the Christian faith. There are a few important days that something happens in the temple. But a Buddhist version of ‘going to church’ really doesn’t exist.
The church though is the body of Christ. Therefore it meets. That has been the case since the beginning, and it is one of the things that need to be emphasized in missions. What happens when the church meets?
That takes us to the second important point made here. People are being taught. Faith is a matter of the heart. But faith also has a content that needs to be understood. You can only love God when you know God. And to know God you have to know a few things about him. Therefore teachings plays a central role in the meetings of the church. Whatever else he may be, a missionary always is a teacher as well.
Are you humble enough to be taught?