Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. Acts 15:32-33
Every time I read Acts, I feel like I’m there in the early church, walking with the apostles, experiencing all they are going through. But really, I haven’t risked my life like these guys did, I have 2000 years of Christian tradition to learn from. They had Jesus’ teachings, and The Holy Spirit. I love the verse just before this one that says, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” This paints the picture that the Holy Spirit is a person who has an opinion, and they feel that they have revelation on what the Holy Spirit is saying.
This verse here is one of the few that talks about prophets in the NT. Clearly their job was to encourage and strengthen the believers. I love the transient nature of the leaders in Acts. They get sent to specific places to do ministry, sent with a blessing of peace.
I heard a preacher once say that we should gauge the success of our churches not on how many we get in the doors, but how many we send out the door. In ministry! There is a real stirring in my heart to be a “Sending” church.
When Carol and I left the Vineyard church to join NHB, we had felt the Holy Spirit say, “Do an evangelistic work in the city.” And we made our own decision to join NHB, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” We told our pastor at Vineyard, and he announced this at church, and laid hands on us and sent us out with a blessing. I believe this is such an important principle. To send with a blessing.
Wayne Cordeiro says that pastors should plant a church every 5 years. Otherwise they become too inward focussed. He’s now planted 120 churches in 15 years, Wayne might need help with his maths, or maybe he’s being easy on other pastors, but the principle is so important. If we are going to keep that pioneering spirit, and if we truly give ourselves to the cause of evangelism, this must be our focus. It’s an easier road to hold on to your best leaders and have the best people in your church, but when a leaders moves on to plant, this leaves room for other leaders to be raised up and trained up. Churches are meant to be fertile training grounds with a constant flow of new leaders who are given a go. Sometimes it may be messy, and rough around the edges. All I can say is I’m glad, I had people believe in me and give me a go over the years, now it’s my turn to pass on the same opportunities afforded to me.
Father, help me be a leader who is led by the Holy Spirit, not by the flesh. Give us divine strategies to plant, to send out workers for the harvest! Help us to see with spiritual eyes where the best fields are to sow into, and to reap in. Raise up the leaders who are willing to risk their lives for the cause of the mission of Christ! Holy Spirit, fill us and lead us on! Amen.