1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off. — Acts 13:1-3
The Church at Antioch was a Sending Church
by Scott Harris
I was only 6 years old. But I remember the night vividly. It was the early summer, 1975, at Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, California. My parents were being sent off (and bringing their kids with them!) from our church to serve as missionaries to Barbados. I recall the emotion, the love—the heavy joy of it all. Peoples’ prayers that night seemed to work; my parents had an effective season of ministry on the island. Fruit is still very much in evidence, even today, decades later.
In Acts 13, we see Barnabas and Saul being sent off from Antioch. How many times has a variation of that sending scene been repeated over the centuries? If we’re not careful, we will miss the significance of the moment. These verses are pivotal and foundational for both the church and for missionary efforts.
This is the first recorded New Testament incident of workers being identified, confirmed, commissioned and sent out with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how the Gospel ‘leap-frogs’ over cultural, linguistic and geographic barriers. In many ways, the Gospel is spread in the normal everyday life-on-life contact between believers and nonbelievers. But at other times, the Gospel is propelled by these ‘special agents.’ We call them missionaries.
It’s common to say that ‘every Christian is a missionary,’ and it’s true in a sense. Every person is to be equipped to live sent. And yet there is a special role for those who are set aside ‘for the work’ like Barnabas and Saul. As we all ‘live sent’—let’s not forget about the ‘called out ones.’ The role is still relevant and desperately needed.
Brentwood Baptist has a growing sending culture. About 12 years ago, there were three missionary ‘units’ (a missionary ‘unit’ can be a single person, married couple or a family) sent from our church. We now have over 30 units representing over 60 men, women and children. This growth is encouraging. However, we need more workers! Christ commands it and the gospel deserves it.
- Do you regularly pray for missionaries? Pray for their protection, power, unity, wisdom and love.
- Do you know any of our BBC missionaries? Contact email@example.com to find out more about our m’s and how you can serve them.
- Have you heard about the 10/40 window? Learn more at: https://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/10_40_window
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.