Monday, April 12, 2010

A Vision for Church Leadership in the Antioch Church Tradition

Ben Zemmer

The church in Antioch played a significant part in the expansion of the gospel in a large part of the Roman Empire. The power of their example does not come from the methods they used but rather from the gospel they faithfully proclaimed (Acts 11:20). Just as it was fitting that the Jerusalem church send Barnabas to aid in the growth of the church, so it was fitting for the very leadership of Antioch to send its two most experienced shepherds for the establishing of new churches in the far reaches of the empire (Acts 11:22; 13:1-3). Antioch embodied the normative thread in Luke’s narrative which is the proclamation of the gospel and the planting of new churches (13:48-49; 14:21-23).

Just as it was fitting that Jerusalem and Antioch send out their leaders, so it is fitting that churches in nowadays do the same. The leadership of churches that embody the example of Antioch recognizes that the expansion of the gospel through the proclamation of the Word and the planting of new churches is integral to the very identity of the church. Such churches recognize the need to share the best of their resources both financial and personal with fellow believers for the strengthening of the Body and the spread of the gospel. These churches recognize that they have much to give but also to receive and learn. Relationship among sister congregations is not a condescending one, but rather a cooperative relationship for the sharpening of one another in the gospel (Acts 11:22-30; 12:25). The leadership of such churches send their own not as token representatives but rather as a very extension of themselves for the blessing of those they are set to serve (Acts 13:1-3: 14:24-28). To pattern after the church in Antioch is to follow the biblical example.

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