We get even more of a glimpse into what a missional church looks like as we continue looking at Acts 11:25-30 (NLT). The church in Antioch started because of the persecution led by Saul in Jerusalem. Now, Saul (Paul) finds his pastoral home as a Jesus Follower in Antioch among many people that he had chased out of Jerusalem a few years before. Because of Barnabas’ encouragement, this account embeds an amazing testimony of grace and conversion.
We learn that the Jesus Followers in Antioch were the first people in history to be called Christians. This should be really significant to us today. We have to ask ourselves whether we reflect these first "Christians" and the way they lived and the way they "did" church.
Part of the identity of these "Christians" involved the evidence of God’s hand upon them through prophecy and care. It’s significant that Agabus, for instance, travels from Jerusalem and ordains the missional work in Antioch by prophesying there. It’s equally as significant how the church responds to Agabus’ accurate prophecy.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to find Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year; teaching great numbers of people. (It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
27 During this time, some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings to predict by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) 29 So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. 30 This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.
We can draw out even more missional elements from this passage. Again, please feel free to add any that you think I’ve missed or to ask questions:
- Encouraging others to grow in leadership is a major aspect of a missional community.
- Teaching is another major aspect to a missional community.
- Gifted people are enlisted for the catalytic growth of the community.
- There is a climate of forgiveness and acceptance.
- There is a understanding that Jesus brings dramatic personal change in even the worst people.
- Missional communities develop a reputation within their cultural context that reflects Jesus Christ.
- Prophecy is evidenced in missional communities.
- Missional communities listen and respond to prophetic word.
- Missional communities willingly share their resources with other communities in need.
- Missional communities entrust people with responsibility.