Becoming a Twenty-First Century Sending Church

Mission leader and pastor, Mark Stachura said, “The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” Every church should be a sending church. The standard model of a sending church is found in Acts 13. After fasting and praying, the church in Antioch sent out their two most capable ministers in obedience to the Holy Spirit. What does a sending church look like today?

A sending church is led by the Spirit of God

Acts 13:2 says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” In this day and age our own church programs and plans seem to take precedence over missions. It is important to realize that the church at Antioch took the initiative in being led by God. The above verse says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted…” Simply put, they sought God! The Word of God is clear in this regard. Hebrews 11:6b says, “…he (God) is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Furthermore, it wasn’t just Barnabas that was seeking; it was the entire leadership of the church. A sending church is one that seeks God and is led by the Spirit of God.

A sending church is obedient to the Spirit of God

Acts 13:3 says, “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” I believe that God has missionary candidates in every local church that He desires to send out. Some never hear the call, while others hear it but do not heed it. The church at Antioch was in tune to the needs of their community and the world. The talk in the foyer after church was predominately spiritual talk and that of meeting the needs of the world (Acts 11:27-30) not the upcoming football season. This environment fostered a heart to serve and to give; a heart that was obedient to the Spirit of God. It is no surprise, then, that this church immediately sent out their very best in obedience to the Spirit of God.

A sending church participates with the Spirit of God

After Paul and Barnabas’ first term planting churches in Asia Minor they came home for a furlough. Acts 14:26-28 says, “And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.” The church in Antioch yielded their beloved Barnabas and Saul to the Lord, but their missionaries were never far from their heart. They prayed for them often, and they rejoiced to see how God used two of their own throughout Asia Minor. And then, during the missionary team’s furlough, they loved on them and ministered with them and to them (Acts 15:3,35). Wherever Paul traveled he expected believers to participate with him (Acts 21:5, Romans 15:24, 1 Corinthians 16:6). The Apostle John also encouraged participation in missions in 3 John 5-8.

Today opportunities to participate with the Spirit of God in missions abound. Our standard of living enables many to give generously to missions. The Internet, printing press, radio and other forms of communication equip many believers to support the work of God in powerful ways. Our modern day technology keeps us in constant contact with our missionaries, and modern travel encourages shot-term missionary trips. Every local church should be a sending church! Oswald J. Smith said it succinctly when he said, “The mission of the church is missions.” We will be a sending church if we are led of the Spirit, when we obey the Spirit and when we participate with the Spirit of God. “The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become,” Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia.

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