When starting a new church, ministry or even carrying forth an existing ministry, the most important aspect that many overlook is the simple issue of prayer.
7. What Paul and Barnabus teaches us in Acts 14, in the the seventh step is praying.
(Acts 14:23 “they commended them to the Lord”). Prayer was a reality in their lives. Prayer is what makes it happen. You can’t teach it in a classroom. Jesus’ disciples said Lord teach us to pray, not how to pray. We don’t need to learn how to pray, we need to learn to pray. If you learn to pray, you’ll know all the how to you need to know. Yet, how many local churches, and believers take it for granted and simply don’t do it.
It’s not about saying the right magic words, he sorts all that out.
Matthew 9:38 tells us missionaries are selected through prayer. That’s how they come, not anything else! We must pray for missionaries. We must labor in prayer. Pray for people individually. Pray as we send out missionaries and to support them.
William Carey left for India in 1792. In 1746 there was a prayer campaign that lasted for 7 years in America and England. In 1786, John Sutcliff organized Baptist churches in England to pray the first Monday of each month. That made it back across the ocean again after this prayer movement started in 1746. Finally in 1792 – 1793, William Carey was leaving for England. This was the key to new church planting as missionaries blanketed the world in the golden age of missions.
We get discouraged that our prayers aren’t answered as fast as we want but it’s the power for the mission. It is necessary and required when starting a new church.
8. The eighth step is they commended them to the Lord (Acts 14:23). It means to turn them over to God. That’s the same word that Jesus used when he was dying on the cross when he said Father into your hands I commend my spirit.
Father it’s all yours. The hardest thing is to commend your missionary work to God when you leave. To say I’m not in charge anymore and to see God put leaders in a position that you may not have chosen. To see the church or church ministry suffer and go in directions that you may not want it to go.
The same thing happens when you give your daughter in marriage. You commend her to somebody else. You may not like your son-in-law but you can’t go back in 5 years and say I’m taking her back now. One of the hardest things for missionaries to do, and sometimes God has to do it for them, through sickness, war etc. is to get them to leave.
One of the greatest causes of failure in the work of Christ are missionaries (or the church planter) who stay to long. That doesn’t mean that some missionaries don’t invest an entire lifetime, sometimes that’s necessary. Sometimes that missionary must say it’s time for me to commend this work to the Lord. Same thing that parents must do when they commend their children to go as missionaries.
Prayer and trusting the Lord are essential elements when starting a new church and carrying forth ministries.
Read the previous steps from Acts 14 to church planting: