“Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there.” -Acts 15:35
When talking about Paula and Barnabas it is easy to just focus on their journeys taking the gospel to many new places and planting churches all over the known world. Their is so much to focus on in Paul’s letters to those churches and his trials and hardships that it is easy to miss out on what was likely a very important part of Paul’s ministry as well but is really only mentioned in this one verse. After Their first missionary journey Paula and Barnabas stayed in Antioch teaching and preaching.
We don’t get much context here as what their reception was like or exactly how they were apart of the church in Antioch outside of preaching and teaching but I think we can infer that they were very much welcomed back in and were able to use their experiences and stories from their time traveling to encourage the church and teach and train the believers.
Looking at maps of Paul’s missionary journeys we see that after the first two he returned back to his sending church in Antioch and the church benefited from him being there and I’m sure he also benefited from being able to encourage and build up that church.
As we look around today, so many missionaries have had to return back to their passport countries due to COVID-19. What an incredible opportunity for the church to incorporate their missionaries into what you’re doing to encourage and build up the church. We know of a church that recently gave a missionary who was on furlough a Wednesday night class to teach how they share the gospel where they serve and how that can be done in America as well. That church and missionary are also excited at the possibility of doing college-age ministry together during the pandemic time if their schedules work out.
So often, because the church and missionary are viewed as separate entities, we have such a difficult time joining the two when we’re together. This can be a very difficult time for a missionary who is unable to do the thing that God has called them to do in the place where God has called them to be because they can’t be there.
So here are two questions:
First, for the missionaries, how will you make yourself available to your church(es)? Obviously, if you’re supported by many churches that are spread out across states it is impossible to serve them all. Do you have a home/sending church or a major support/partner church that you could invest in while you’re there?
Second, for the churches, do you have a missionary that is close that you can utilize, share ministry with, connect with while they’re here? Don’t just see them as a missionary but see them as a brother, sister, or friend. How can you provide for them while their world is upside down? How can they help further you vision? Can they teach and/or train people in ministry?
These are just some of the things to think about right now. It all starts by having a conversation and finding ways to be mutually beneficial to each other. Find out how you can become ONE and how to work together to advance God’s kingdom.
Here2There’s mission is to close the gap between churches and missionaries. If you need help coming up with ideas on how to make your missionaries a part of your church instead of a mission you support contact us, we love talking about this.