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The Tallest Man I’ve Ever Seen
This summer I was out on a date with my daughter: dinner at the Olive Garden downtown.
And I see this man walking down the street.
The tallest man I have ever seen.
And I have seen some basketball players, I have seen some tall people… this guy was taller.
He looked like he was walking on stilts because his torso was normal size but his legs were each six feet long.
I would have assumed stilts… except his knees were still in the middle.
I don’t want to point and stare… but I definitely want Arabelle to see this!
So I whisper, are you seeing this?
And she says “Yes!”
I look over and she is looking under the table at a pigeon hopping along.
“Arabelle, look up.”
But she doesn’t, she doesn’t want to look away from the pigeon.
Now, this dude is like 12 feet tall so he is crossing ground like crazy.
Finally I get her to look up, right as he walks behind a tree.
She looks back down.
No, over there, now he’s across the street.
And just as she looks over, he folds down his body and squeezes into a bus.
She totally missed it: the tallest man I’ve ever seen.
What are we looking at?
Where is our attention?
Are we missing something amazing?
Recap: amazing church in Antioch
They are a Christ-centered church: first called Christians because they won’t shutup about Christ, even to Gentiles.
And then they form a community of love-without-distinction, united in the name of Christ with the love of Christ and so they call them “Christ-ians”.
By this all men shall know they are His disciples, but the way they love each other.
This is a church with remarkable advantages.
Founded by men who are crazy about Jesus.
They are then mentored and led by Barnabus - the son of encouragement, who is wise enough and mature enough to recognize what is fantastic about this community and then add what they needed most: the teaching of Saul.
Who then taught for at least a year.
What a blessing that must have been!
This guy wrote most of the books of the Old Testament.
But do you know how wrote the most actual percentage by word of the New Testament?
But who mentored and taught Luke?
This guy directly and indirectly shaped most everything we know about Christianity.
This is their teacher, their preacher.
What do you do with a teacher like that?
With pastors like that?
This guy who recognizes the Holy Spirit and has that incredible spirit of maturity.
This guy who knows the Scripture backwards and forwards, has the most incredible personal testimony of meeting Jesus, and teaches with such power that his words and letters are stilled shared today.
You hold on to those teachers, those leaders.
You built a church around them, upon them as foundational pillars.
You make a personality cult around them and you ride that wave into mega-church territory, that’s what you do!
What did the church in Antioch do?
Send them to serve other churches
They send Barnabas and Saul off to Jerusalem to bring the offering.
Okay… a short term trip.
There is generosity there… but no big deal.
Barnabas and Saul come back.
Now they have added to the church.
John Mark, or Mark, the likely author of the gospel of Mark, writing down what we believe is the testimony of Peter.
But Barnabus and Saul return back “home” to their home church to feed into them again.
To teach them again.
Send them to plant other churches
This is a model right here: multiple elders leading out of multiple giftings.
Saul has very different giftings than Barnabus, we have seen that already and we will see it again.
Simon: we don’t know that guy, really.
He was presumably black because he was called Simon “the black”.
Lucius, Manaen, we don’t know these people, but to be named as leaders along side Barnabus and Saul, they had to be great.
The key is that these five men are leaders, and there were additional other prophets and teachers as well.
What were they doing together?
Worshiping and fasting:
There they are, either just those five, or those together with other prophets and teachers, the leaders of Antioch… or even the whole church of Antioch.
What are they already doing?
They are praying and fasting.
The implication isn’t that they were in a special time of seeking the Holy Spirit’s will… the “praying and fasting” was an ongoing posture, not a specific process.
This is a way of life, for the church, and certainly for the church’s leaders.
The Holy Spirit “said”.
How did he say?
We don’t know.
In the earlier mission to the church in Jerusalem he “spoke” through a prophet.
Maybe he spoke aloud, maybe through a growing inner conviction.
And what did the Holy Spirit ask them?
Send out some leaders!
You are going to send someone on a mission to plant churches further North in Asia, start planting churches.
What do you do when you plant churches?
You gather a solid “B” team.
The backup worship band, the Assistant or Associate pastor, you train them up as best you can and then you send them out.
What you DON’T do is send out the pillars of your own church.
If you have five “named” guys… you keep those five guys and draw from the others to send.
Especially you don’t send your two best, and if one of them is Paul, there’s no WAY you send that guy.
Did the Holy Spirit say “plant a church?”
Or “send someone”?
No. Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
The Externally Focused Church
The church at Antioch has an external focus.
Not on supporting sister churches, though they do that for the church in Jerusalem.
Humanitarian aid through monetary sacrificial giving.
The church at Antioch has an external focus.
Not on planting churches or evangelism or missions as we might call the coming trip Barnabus and Saul are going to take.
How can we say that when this is one of the most fruitful mission trips of all time?
The church at Antioch has an external focus… because their focus is not on themselves and the maximum possible growth plan for their church.
Their focus is on the Holy Spirit and what he is doing next.
Where are they called to serve next, who are they called to send next?
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