Passages: Acts 13:1-12, 14:21-28

Pastor Josh Moody from Trinity Baptist Church began with an illustration with the story of Peter Pan, which was published in 1911, and has made it to a recent film produced under the title “Finding Neverland.” The story of a boy never wanting to grow up is the driving thrust of the plot, which develops into an imaginary world.

Our understanding of the church can move along the same lines as Peter Pan’s disposition: not wanting to grow up. What does a mature church look like? How does a church really grow up? We have the model of the church in Antioch.

1) Involvement with the local church. The church grows up through the involvement of the local church. In Acts, we see the apostles going from city to city strengthening the disciples there — Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. They were invested in the churches set up in each of these cities. The Christians gathered in those places. Being a part of the universal church is not enough. Watching Christian programs on television is not enough. Listening to the sermons online is not enough. Those things do not constitute “church.” Church is where we have preaching and administration of the sacraments.

2) Vision to action. In the corporate world, we hear of the need to “execute the vision.” What good is vision when it lies dormant in someone’s mind? In Antioch, we have prophets and teachers. Now, these prophets, why were they called prophets? They had this “prophetic edge.” They held to the teachings of the apostles, affirming them in the community around them.

3) Multiplicity of elders. In 13:2, we read “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” We have elders at Trinity, because we believe that it is a biblical mandate in church government. From time to time, mostly every year, we hold elections. We do pray for new candidates for eldership election. How great it would be if we fasted and prayed like they did in the early church.

4) Real fellowship. Playing Scrabble does not mean you have fellowship. That is friendship. We must make the distinction between that and real fellowship. We see in Acts that there was this really sweet fellowship amongst them. We know this, because the apostles were there for a long time with the disciples, as told in 14:28.

This is how church planting is done. This is growth of the church, as modeled by the early church.

Preached on April 22, 2007.