“After preaching the Gospel (Good News) in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. ” (Acts 14:21-23)
1. Preaching the Gospel (Good News): Apostle Paul had a passion for sharing the Gospel wherever he went. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) Paul’s passion was preaching the Word in season and out of season. The Greek word for Gospel is ‘kerygma’. A poor understanding of the Gospel is one of the main reasons for attrition in the emerging churches. In the midst of many different gospels being preached today, Peter’s speech at Cornelius’ house is a clear model for us to follow.
2. Making many disciples – The ultimate goal of the Great Commission is making disciples and Jesus showed a model by discipling 12 people and exhorting them to make disciples by teaching them (didache) to obey everything that he have commanded. One simple principle is teaching the 7 commandments of Jesus. But as they grow they need to be taught the whole counsel of God.
3. Strengthening (Establishing) the believers – The third step of ministry is strengthening the believers. The Greek word used for establish is‘sterizo’. Apostle Paul had a clear strategy for establishing the believers. He revisited the churches he had planted, wrote letters to them, sent other leaders to strengthen them.
4. Encouraged them to continue in the faith – The Greek word for encouragement is ‘Paraklesis’. Barnabas was called the son of encouragement. We have seen that a number of believers who come to faith turn back because of persecution and trails. You could support them by your prayers and words of encouragement. “Who can separate us from the love of Jesus?” (Romans 8:35)
5. Appointed elders – Apostle Paul’s next goal was to train leaders in every church that he planted. This he did, not by sending them to a seminary, but it was truly a Church Based Theological Education. Today there is a global shift to a new paradigm to train leaders in the context of the church.
6. Prayer and fasting – One of our main focus should be on mobilizing and training people for prayer and intercession. We have now had a 24 hour Prayer Chain, being established all across North Indian churches.
7. (Committing) Over to the care of the Lord – After doing everything that we can to plant and perfect churches, we know that the master shepherd cares for the sheep more than anyone of us. Let us commit our believers, disciples, leaders, and churches over to the care of the Lord for He truly cares.
Can we make an attempt to share the Gospel with someone every day, help a new believer by teaching to obey what Jesus commanded, establish and strengthen or encourage someone today, train someone to be a leader, commit ourselves to a life of prayer and fasting and committing the sheep to the hands of the great Shepherd?