This article is part of a series of Bible studies looking at some characteristics of sending and supporting churches. If you are a church leader, feel free to use these in your church.

Our God is a sending God. One of the ways he does this is by sending gospel workers from local churches to the nations.

Let’s continue our study by looking at four more characteristics of a sending church, seen in the church in Antioch.

They prioritise worship (Acts 13:1-3)

The church in Antioch were a worshipping church. They heard God’s word proclaimed by prophets and teachers (Acts 13:1). They prayed and fasted together (Acts 13:2-3). As they worshipped, the Holy Spirit led them to send out gospel workers (Acts 13:2). A sending church is fi rst a worshipping church. Their heart for mission grows out of their heart for God. They see his glory and global purpose as his word is proclaimed. As they seek after God through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit brings them in alignment with God’s purpose and leads them to act.

Application 1

In what ways does having wrong priorities hinder our mission involvement? (See Jonah 4) How does a heart for God lead to a heart for mission?

They take action (Acts 13:2-3)

The book of Acts is full of action. It is not primarily a book about the actions of people, but the actions of God. In Acts 13, the church don’t just have a moving time of worship, they act on what the Lord has led them to do. The Spirit of God uses them to send out Barnabas and Saul, to take the gospel to places that had never heard it. The Holy Spirit is still at work today empowering the church to make Christ known to the ends of the earth. His work will be done as we obey his leading in sending and supporting those who share the gospel.

Application 2

What signs are there that we’re becoming passive in our involvement in global mission? Think of specific ways to be more active in our involvement?

They give sacrificially (Acts 13:3)

Saul and Barnabas had been such a blessing to their church and you can well imagine some in the church thinking, “Not them, Lord! We need them here!” Sending is a costly thing to do. It is costly for those who go and those who send. One of the costs is the reality that the people we send from our church will be people who are faithfully serving right here. They will leave a gap when they go. They will be people we love and would love to keep around. As we consider this and ask ourselves whether it is worth it, we need to remember the worthiness of Jesus. He is worthy of our best. We also need to remember the coming harvest. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:5). As diffi cult as it is to let go of the precious people we are holding on to, we do so knowing that God is bringing about a wonderful harvest of glad worshippers from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9).

Application 3 

What are some of the costs that come with sending and supporting mission workers today? What are some practical ways we can maintain our interest and support of them and their work?

They maintain care (Acts 14:24-28)

Sending Barnabas and Saul out wasn’t the end of their involvement with them. At the end of Acts 14, the church welcomed them back. When they arrived, the church gathered together to hear about what they had seen God do since they last met together. We see churches elsewhere in the New Testament being encouraged to continue in prayer and support of their mission partners in a manner “worthy of the Lord” (3 John 6). May we, by God’s grace, do the same.  What are some of the challenges cross-cultural workers face in their work and in their personal lives?

Application 4 

What are some practical ways we can maintain our interest and support of them and their work? How does the gospel enable us to embrace the cost of sending?

Next time we look at what the Bible says on being a supporting church.


Brandon Nelson is UFM Worldwide’s Area Director for Northern England, the Midlands and North Wales