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What Can Be Done?

In Acts 11, there are three very important details that have become the heart of the ministry we call Homemission!

Acts 11:19-30:

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.  But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

#1 Evangelists were sent to help at risk churches

As the gospel reached Antioch, a new church was begun and the church in Jerusalem wanted to help.

Acts 11:22-24: “Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.”

Why did they send Barnabas? Why was the church in Jerusalem involved? Did that interfere with the autonomy of the church in Antioch?

Instead of debating these issues, let’s look at the results. Barnabas encouraged them, gave them purpose of heart, was a role model, was a good man, was full of God’s spirit and was full of faith. Because of him, many were added to the Lord’s church. Now, this wasn’t the only example: Timothy was sent to Ephesus, Titus was sent to Crete and Paul, Peter, Timothy and Apollos were sent to Corinth to clean up the mess there.

Other congregations have had people in the past do the same thing. Because false teachers have introduced strange ideas into the church, however, we have become more cautious and, as a result, more isolated. Wouldn’t it be great to have trusted, faithful men and women going out to help at-risk churches? There are many at-risk congregations that cannot afford to bring in anyone.  Even if they could, they have become so isolated they wouldn’t know who to invite. They can’t afford material for outreach. They do not have a purpose except to keep the doors open. If they had a door-knocking campaign, they wouldn’t be prepared to handle the new Christians.

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#2 Preachers received training in at-risk churches

Acts 11:25: “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

Homemission was the idea of Andrew and Janae Fridelle in 2011. They preached for a small congregation and noticed how many at-risk churches of Christ were around them. They began with a dream, a format and two volunteers fresh out of school. They started working with five congregations. Eventually, these young men learned by their experience and are now serving as youth ministers in congregations. One of those congregations was at risk but is now growing and stable. Now, it is time to take it to the next level.

What if we could use Homemission not only to assist these at-risk churches but give training to inexperienced at-risk preachers? Notice again what Barnabas did for Paul. This was the springboard for his ministry. We desire to work with preaching students and at-risk preachers. Without training, they can become discouraged and quit or they can be misled by false teachers. Some of these inexperienced preachers have done more harm than good. Some preachers are so frustrated, they consider leaving the ministry of the Lord. In fact, 75% of preachers who graduate from school end up dropping out of the ministry.

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#3 Blessings come from helping at-risk churches

Acts 11:27-30: “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.  This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

Isn’t that amazing!  Jerusalem helped Antioch get established.  Then Antioch turned around and gave money to help the churches in Judea which included the church in Jerusalem. And that’s not all they did.

Acts 13:1-3: “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

“Sent them away” is similar to the wording in 3rd John 6 and had to do with some kind of support. And so, this fledgling church – not Jerusalem – but Antioch became the hub for the first missionary journey.

Sending evangelists to help an at-risk congregation paid off big dividends for the Lord’s work and financial support for Jerusalem later on.

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