In Acts 13:1-3, the church in Antioch commission Saul and Barnabas for cross-cultural, gospel-centred ministry. Two things stand out about the church.
First, they serve.
The word is commonly translated ‘worshipping’ (NIV, v2) but might more helpfully be understood as ‘serving’. The church’s primary service would have been the preaching and teaching of God’s word to the wider congregation - and their response in prayer and fasting. That is the context in which the Spirit confirms Barnabas and Saul’s appointment for service.
Second, they send.
More literally, the church let go of Saul and Barnabas. They release them. These two are eager to get on with the work and so the church do everything possible to aid their departure. The Holy Spirit graciously confirms what the church had sensed all along.
Picture a sending church this way: during a Sunday service the children go out to their teaching groups. First there is teaching followed by some instructions from the front. This is followed by a prayer for the children. Finally they are sent out to their groups elsewhere. In the case of the more eager ones, they are literally released!
Similarly a church centred around God’s word, responding in prayer and devotion, should also be a sending church, releasing people for the work of the gospel, far and near.
What can sending churches do as they prepare to send out workers?
1. Start praying
2. Keep teaching
3. Get organised
Find out how you can support your mission partner whilst they're out in the field here or read this list of top tips. This blog post is part of a series about the mission partner lifecycle. Read also about the mission and recommission stages.
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Jamie was Director of Misison Partnerships at Crosslinks from 2016 – 2021. Before this, he was a Crosslinks mission partner in South Africa and worked in local parish ministry in the UK. Jamie now works with St Nicholas Church in Sevenoaks.
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