“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders[a]for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting,committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.” Acts 14.21-25
Ministry was never intended to be accomplished alone.
When I was in MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) In Wichita Falls, Texas, as a youth, I was given a voice. It was really the first time I had been offered the ability to speak up. That my opinion mattered. I was not mature enough in my faith or in my emotions to lead the group, but I was learning to speak up. I was in high school and remember the MYF officer meetings in which I shared my opinions for the future direction of the group. Little did I know how this was shaping me and my future ministry as one who would later enable others to do the same.
Paul and Barnabas did not keep ministry leadership to themselves. Just as Jesus had disciples and duplicated himself, so Paul and Barnabas are seen in this Scriptures appointing elders for each church. They did so with careful prayer and fasting, they “committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” These elders were most likely men (although I believe women can hold the same post) who were god-fearing, faithful and holy. They were people whom God had raised up to help lead the church. They were people finding their voice in speaking up for the sake of the Gospel.
Sometimes churches raise up leaders who look more like activists. They push for social justice, which is not necessarily a bad thing, yet they do so outside the context of traditional orthodox Christianity. They take up issues contrary to Scripture that the Bible deems as unholy or sinful. Advocating for a cause is worthy, but if we are going to be in “God’s camp,” the issues we adopt must be inline with Scripture. Feeding the poor, preaching to the lost, advocating for widows, the unborn, the oppressed is always worthy. But in the end, the homeless person needs not only food and shelter but a saving relationship with Jesus.
Today I have the ability through The Revive Movement and through the Wesley House of Studies at Truett where I serve, to mentor people who are either called to ministry or have become new believers in Christ. I like to create layers of leadership, which gives everyone a voice and a seat at the table. I believe this is not unlike what Paul and Barnabas did as they laid hand upon elders who were helping govern the now and future church.
Are you called to lead? Are you called to serve? Are you called to be the hands and feet of Christ? Then find your voice for the sake of Jesus. Read his word, walk in step with his message, and take the Good News of the Gospel to a world deep in need.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for allowing me to not only find my voice by the power and instruction of the Holy Spirit but to do so with grace. Thank you for allowing me to learn, grow and invest in the next generation of Christ followers. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen