Acts 14 gives us Paul’s simple outline for planting emerging churches:
- DELIVER the Message of faith to people who have never heard: Paul and Barnabas started their preaching at the local synagogues. Meeting with little interest among people of faith for their message they move on to a fresh audience outside existing places of worship who were delighted to have the opportunity for a new spiritual experience.
- DEFINE the new core of disciples: in each new place they visited they established a strong core of disciples, those who had heard their offering and accepted the next step.
- DEVELOP the new churches by building up their faith and understanding. In Eugene Peterson’s version of the New Testament, The Message, it says that Paul and Barnabas ‘added muscle and sinew into the lives of the disciples’
- DIRECT new faith communities into appropriate structures for security and development. Again in The Message, they ‘hand picked leaders in each church. After praying (and fasting) they presented these new leaders to God’
- DEPART. Paul and Barnabas didn’t hang around. Their job was not to act as continual nursemaids, but with faith and confidence in the work of God to grow the church they left these new communities to grow and mature on their own. They went back to Antioch, from where they had set out some months before, and reported on the successes they had experienced. The New Testament commentary on the venture? ‘Launched by God’s grace and now home by God’s grace. A good piece of work’.
We could learn from that approach: this was a clear package of work. It had a beginning and an end and clarity in between What could we achieve with this sort of clarity? (see One Person One Task One Year)