Summary: Exposition of Acts 13:1-3 about the characteristics of the church that God used to change the history of the world through the mission and message of Jesus
Text: Acts 13:1-3, Title: God Changing the World Through a Church, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/13/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: Recount a few of the world’s most amazing developments. This was a crucial time for the church: “This moment of prayer and fasting resulted in a missions movement that would make Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman Empire within two and a half centuries, and would yield more than 1.3 billion adherents of the Christian religion today, with a Christian witness in almost every country in the world. And 13 of our 27 books of the NT were the result of the ministry that would launched in this moment of prayer and fasting.”
B. Background to passage: Having completed their ministry in Jerusalem related to the famine and the relief effort sent by the church at Antioch, Paul and Barnabas come back and bring John Mark with them. Up to this point, the church had no efforts with the gospel west of the Mediterranean coast.
C. Main thought: In the text we will see five qualities of this church that God used to change the history of the world by beginning the first proactive missions endeavor.
A. Plurality of Pastoral Leadership (v. 1)
1. The leadership of the early church was going through much transition at this time, even in its terminology. We see apostles, prophets, deacons (that are not called deacons yet), evangelists, teachers, and a lot of crossover between them. But it is fairly evident that these five men were essentially the pastoral leadership of the congregation there. This is the consistent pattern throughout the book of Acts and the NT. Argue from the texts for plurality of elders. Explain the word “elder.” Jesus gave us the pattern of plurality himself when he selected 12 men to be disciples/apostles.
3. Illustration: “The concept of the pastor as the lonely, trained professional—the sacred person over the church who can never really become part of the congregation—is utterly unscriptural. Not only is this concept unscriptural, but it is psychologically and spiritually unhealthy.” –Strauch,
4. We consider ourselves to be people of the book, but we don’t know what it teaches. We claim to have biblical churches, but some practices we do are not found. We will not argue to have one deacon, but we will argue against a plurality of pastors. Think about the advantages: multiple backgrounds, multiple gifts, shared work-load, if one leaves or is asked to leave, no pastoral leadership vacuum exists forcing people who are not qualified to pastor to pastor, accountability, enhanced personal growth for pastors, making up for weaknesses with shared strength. Why is it that we shy away from this concept? Is this a direction that we should be moving?
B. Powerful God-Centered Worship (v. 2)
1. This verse says “while they were ministering to the Lord.” The first word in the Gr. here is leitourgeo, which can be translated minister, or serve, or worship. It was used of the temple servants who aided the congregation in OT worship. So this mighty move of God to change the world happened during the middle of a worship service where the leadership, at least, but probably also the congregation was fasting. Their worship services were focused on ministering to God. And they were a place where God was consistently moving and changing lives and speaking.
2. 1 Cor 14:24-26, Matt 18:20,
3. Illustration: why worship? Attached sheet, "The outflow of a focus on God, a submission to the real Jesus, and an emphasis on ever-deepening relationships is an energetic, joyful, Spirit-filled, congregational worship of the triune God. Genuine celebration erupts when God’s people discover who they are in Christ. And powerful prayer arises from the hearts of those who have truly entered the presence of God." tell the story about Whitney’s 10th birthday party ending, read last paragraph, p. 86, Sp Disc for Christian Life,
4. Are our services life changing? Are they powerful, or do you endure? Is God ministered to in our services? How do you know? Do you think he likes hymns or choruses? Does it only matter what you like? Or maybe you think God isn’t really concerned as long as you bless Him with your presence? How do we have a powerful worship service? We get Les to do it better right? Get me to preach better, shorter, longer, easier, harder? NO, a thousand times NO. The way that we have powerful services is when every one of us comes in here on Sunday prayed up and prepared to engage the God of Heaven. Where we all sing with all our passion, and all give with cheerfulness not robbing God, and all engage our minds and hearts to the proclamation of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, not being concerned about whether you like it, or whether or not you are “getting anything out of it,” or who is sitting beside you. Do we really gather