As I read through the book of Acts it is amazing to see how successful the ministry of Paul was. How could someone who was so focused on ruining Christianity become the ramrod for the New Testament? What did he do?
I don’t think he did what we would. Put yourself in the place of Paul in today’s world, what would you do to build a church or promote Christianity?
Let’s see….Twitter account, beautiful website, lots of cool videos, Facebook, oh yea, we need to put all of the kids programs on Instagram to be cool and hip. Now, what do we preach on Sundays? We probably need to hit on things that are relevant to society, maybe some gay marriage stuff or something on politics. How about 10 easy steps to build a strong family? Or, maybe we can do a 4-week series on the latest “biblical” movies that have been released. Let’s get our pastor to write a book, that always draws a crowd.
That seems to be a pretty standard “marketing plan” that churches everywhere are using. Maybe that’s not the best way, let’s see how they did it in scripture.
Acts 13:42 gives us a clear idea of how to build a ministry, “As they [Paul and Barnabas] went out [of the synagogue], the people earnestly begged that these things might be told to them [further] the next Sabbath.”
They just ministered and the people want more. How many churches would love for their congregations to say that on Sunday! Ok, so what were they ministering? What did the people want Paul and Barnabas to continue talking about the next week? What got them so excited? Here it is in verse 38 and 39:
“So let it be clearly known and understood by you, brethren, that through this Man forgiveness and removal of sins is now proclaimed to you; And that through Him everyone who believes [who acknowledges Jesus as his Savior and devotes himself to Him] is absolved (cleared and freed) from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by the Law of Moses and given right standing with God.”
It was a simple message about Jesus and forgiveness of sins. That’s the ministry building secret…preach freedom and grace in Jesus. Paul’s ministry kept growing and the people wanted more Jesus. He wasn’t telling people that Jesus was mad at sinners. Did Paul preach that Jesus was coming to condemn those in sin? No. It seems that they told everyone to quit worrying about the Law, because it’s now fulfilled, and look to Jesus for grace.
My conclusion? Pastors, quit trying to build a church with gimmicks and programs, just tell your people about Jesus, He’ll bring in the crowds. That’s a sure-fire growth program that no one can stop. Let’s stop telling people to earn or work their way into God’s heart. Tell people that God loves them.
You might say, “But people are going to get sick and tired of just hearing about Jesus every week.” Really? Let’s see what happened the next week with Paul and Barnabas.
44-45: The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God]. But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].
So people showed up, actually almost the entire city, to just hear the Good News. Wow! It’s funny but when was the last time you watched a preacher on television preach on simple salvation and forgiveness of sins? People want…need…desire to hear the Good News…every week! I know I do.
Pastors, do you want people beating down the doors of your church to come in? Then preach Jesus and His grace, beauty and love every service. People are sick and tired of hearing guilt and condemnation every week. They are starving for the reality of Jesus. Sure, the Pharisees in your church or community might get mad or jealous. But it’s not what they want, it’s what we need to say. We have a beautiful example of a successful ministry and how to do it. We need to make some people mad with the amount of grace we give others…then I feel that we are on the right track. I think that’s the church we are supposed to build. Let’s follow a biblical example.
Read Acts 13 for yourself if you are a leader or pastor. It’ll open your eyes. If that’s how the apostles did it, that’s how we need to do it.