Summary: Acts 13: 1-3 describes the characteristics of the church at Antioch and the qualities God expects for our church as well.
WHAT KIND OF CHURCH SHOULD WE BE?
INTRO: The largest church in the world is an Assembly of God church in Seoul, Korea, with a membership of 200,000. How would you like to be a part of such a church?
The church at Antioch of Syria was a great church. After the martyrdom of Stephen, Christianity spread to Antioch, where a large number of people believed in the Lord. There the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:19-26).
Antioch was a great church. This raises the question, What kind of church should we be? Acts 13: 1-3 describes the characteristics of the church at Antioch and the qualities God expects for our church as well.
I. WE MUST BE A MINISTERING CHURCH (v. 2).
The Greek word translated ministered is ëåéôïõñãù (leitourgeo). In Romans 15:27 it is used to describe ministry of service: a gift of money to the poor saints in Jerusalem. In Hebrews 10:11 the same word is used to describe the ministry of worship: priestly sacrifices in the temple.
As a ministering church, we must seek to provide worship services which truly honor God and meet the needs of people. The preacher, music director, or choir can’t do it for us. We must all be involved.
ILLUS: Years ago it was common for men to stand outside the building and smoke cigarettes during the so-called “preliminaries,” and then find a seat for the sermon. But all of the service is vital: hymns, offering, sermon, prayer, and invitation.
As a ministering church, we must serve. Our church must be known as a people who care for the sick, grieving, and lonely; we must help the prisoner, the hungry, and the suffering (see Matt. 25:34-40).
II. WE MUST BE A PRAYING CHURCH (v. 3).
The church at Antioch prayed and fasted before commissioning Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries. The church must always pray.
ILLUS: G. Curtis Jones tells of a time when he supplied for another preacher who was on vacation. When Jones arrived at the pulpit, a note on the large open Bible addressed to him said: “Don’t pray over two minutes. My people aren’t used to it!”
What a sad indictment of a church. We must pray as the church gathered in worship and as the church scattered in our homes.
Our laxity in prayer is one of the reasons we do not experience God doing more in our churches and personal lives.
III. WE MUST BE A GOING CHURCH (v. 1).
The church at Antioch had prophets and teachers, but it was not a great church simply because it had people who could teach a wonderful Sunday School lesson. It was a great church because it sent missionaries. Verse 3 says they laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them away.
The old idea that “they know where the church is if they want to come” will never reach people for Christ. Our church must not be content to sing, “Come to the church in the wildwood.” We must sing, “Go, tell it on the mountain.”
Through our visitation program, our Vacation Bible School, and the mission action of our Woman’s Missionary Union, we are a going church. By our support of the Cooperative Program, we send missionaries today, just as Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas.