They laid hands on them and sent them off
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. ” Acts 13:1–3
As we stepped out of the church which has been our home for the past two decades this passage kept coming to mind. My prayer is for Acts 13:1–3 to be a description of Heritage and many other churches to come.
The church at Antioch is marked by a pursuit of God.
In this little group are people from at least three continents, lifelong friends, and those that would have nothing in common. They are diverse, but pursuing… What a mix! What a testimony of God! These people don’t belong in the same room together and yet God has united them in amazing ways. The Antioch strategy is to worship, pray and seek God. There have to be spaces created not to plan and scheme, but to seek and plead. What are we pleading with God over? What are those requests not for our own comforts or collections, but for His Name to be known by more and more?
The church at Antioch is modeling obedience to the Spirit of God. (v2)
Obedience is hard and often scary. Anyone can give from their left overs. All of us are fine with letting go of the things we don’t care about. But this is asking more than a lot. God is telling them to let go of Paul. Paul… Where is God calling you to obey? What is God asking of you? Notice there is no arguing or negotiating in the text about the request. This is an incredible sign they are not kingdom building unto themselves but looking to advance for The One who is worthy.
The church at Antioch is embracing “Gospel Goodbyes”.
This group of believers was praying for clarity and for power, but not for keeping people in their “salt shaker”. May we be people and churches who are always looking forward to the sending. May we be people crying out to the Lord saying, “More Lord. Send more.” It will never be fun. It will always be hard saying goodbye. And yet, these gospel goodbyes are worth more than money could buy.