The Marks of a Healthy Church

Acts 13:1-3 1 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to. 3 Then, after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.

Introduction:

•               It was in the city of Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. •               The word Christian actually means little Christ.

•               The community called the disciples in Antioch Christians because they lived so much like Christ lived.
•               Though no church is perfect, the one in Antioch must have been pretty good to have this reputation in the community.
•               Therefore, we can learn a lot about how to be a healthy church from the church in Antioch.

Verse 1 – In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

•               It is important to note that a healthy church has multiple leaders with different types of ministries.

•               This is one of many examples of multiple leadership in the church and one of the reasons why our own church uses a group of elders to lead, teach and preach instead of investing all the power in a single person.
•               Barnabas represented the “traditional” church of Jerusalem, having been sent by the apostles to assist the church in Antioch.
•               Simeon was a black man from Africa and would have had a significantly different cultural background than the others, but he was still a leader.
•               Little is known of Lucius but he was from Cyrene and was probably a refugee who had fled to the area seeking safety.
•               Manaen was a friend of the king and would have been very well educated, wealthy and known all the important people in town.
•               Saul had grown up steeped in his Jewish faith but had a dramatic conversion to Christianity.
•               Each of these men had different backgrounds, upbringings and personalities, but God used them all working together as a team to make the church in Antioch healthy. •               A healthy church is not built on the skills or abilities of any one person, including the pastor.
•               Each of us have a part to play in building a healthy church and the church can only be healthy if we each do our part.

Verse 2 – As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to.

•               While they were in the midst of ministering, the Lord spoke to them about a special work.

•               Some people wait on God to give them some BIG sign about what to do, but God most often speaks while we are in the midst of serving.
•               Therefore, if we want to hear from God, we must start serving!
•               These leaders were also fasting.
•               Fasting is when a person goes without food for a period of time in order to focus more time and energy on spiritual things.
•               Fasting often opens the door to spiritual understanding that helps us know God’s plans for our future.
•               Though there were many leaders in the church, God had a special job for Barnabas and Saul.
•               All of us are equal in the church and should all be doing our part, but God calls some people to a special work of service.
•               Healthy churches produce people who have special callings to serve God.

Verse 3 -Then, after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.

•               The leaders laid hands on Barnabas and Saul.

•               When God calls people to special ways to serve, the church should affirm that calling by laying hands on the people and praying for them.
•               This is a symbolic way of giving them our blessing and also releasing the blessing of God into their lives and avenues of service.
•               Though God is the one who calls, the church helps a person clarify his calling and then supports that person in fulfilling that call.
•               Many people try to serve the Lord on their own without the church’s backing. This is always a recipe for disaster.
•               Serving others is hard and we need the church behind us in order to be effective. •               After praying for, and laying hands on Saul and Barnabas, the church sent them out.
•               When God calls people to serve Him in special ways, they do not always stay where they are.
•               They may have to give up a night at home with their family to serve in a ministry.
•               They may have to leave a Bible study group so they can go start a new group. •               They may go help start a new church in a different town.
•               They may go to seminary to receive further training.
•               They may move to a far off place to become a missionary.
•               They often have to sacrifice friendships, jobs and possessions in order to follow the special calling that God has put on their lives.
•               This is one reason why they need the church’s support, because these are hard things to do.
•               Healthy churches send people out to serve with their blessing and support.

Conclusion:

•               A healthy church has multiple leaders.

•               A healthy church has lots of different kinds of people in leadership.
•               A healthy church produces people who receive special callings to serve God.
•               A healthy church sends people out with their blessing and support.
———————
Learn more about how to have a healthy church in Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church.
Advertisements

~ by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett on August 13, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: