Summary: Paul’s ministry affirmingly worked through insiders in the growth of each local church. Paul wrote, “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”
Paul’s Apostolic Principles and Practices
1. Paul was an apostle (missionary). An apostle is one who is sent out by Christ to preach the gospel. God only had one Son and he sent Him as a missionary. The man who God has used more than any other as a missionary was the apostle Paul. Paul writes, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (I Cor. 4:16) Paul’s ministry was more pro-active than reactive. “It was he who gave some to be apostles (gift of being sent out with Christ’s message), some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers.” (Eph. 4:11) Why is there less than .01% of Americans who are involved as missionaries as it would seem obvious that God has gifted more people?
2. Paul preached a gospel of power unashamedly. (Rom. 1:16) The gospel of God was a message that contrasted with the wisdom of men that the Gentiles admired and the political-religious-social power that the Jews sought after. His was the dunamos of God that liberated, delivered and set the captives free from the chains of their fears, sin and eternal judgment.
3. Paul put the planting and the growing of churches as his ministry priority. I planted and Apollos watered but God made it grow. (I Cor. 3:6) Do not think that we are doing God’s will unless we are contributing to the planting and the growing of His church in communities that are still yet to have a healthy body of Christ. Paul planted and helped grow churches in Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica and other important urban centers.
4. Paul worked through apostolic bands of men as we have seen God use this strategy through church history. Acts 2:41-47 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and the apostles did many wonders and miraculous signs. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. And they broke bread in their homes. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” That was Paul’s pattern for multiplying seed family fellowships.
5. Paul taught good stewardship of our money, resources and lives because He knew God owns everything. The Lord owns our talents, wealth and all the moments of our life. He has the power to make promote or demote. He alone possesses the power to give or to take away. He alone gives one the ability to succeed. (I Cor. 4:2) So then, men ought to regard us as servants (stewards) of Christ and as those who are entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
6. Paul’s ministry was Christ centered, empowered and directed. Paul wrote, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Paul wrote, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to Him even to His death.” (Phil. 3:10) We should know Him and make Him known our goal in all things.