Church at Antioch

Timothy Culture Training

* Please use these resources to help prepare for your own missions trips and teams. They are free to everyone.

We want to focus on a church that shows what it looks like to live out a Timothy culture. In the New Testament we are blessed to have many stories from the early church that are examples of what the Lord does as we follow through on our faith in Christ. It is especially inspiring when a group of people are committed to that faith together and impact their culture by how they live and the decisions they make. At a place called Antioch of Syria that we read about in the Book of Acts, there was a group of people who were committed to living out the truth that if we are changed by Christ and guided by Christ we begin to look like Christ. That might sound a little simplistic, but when we read about the Church at Antioch it becomes clear that these people had priorities that reflected the Lord and what He had done for them, to the point that they were identified as images of the one they were following.

Let’s look at some of their story to get a clearer picture of what is possible when we have the same attitude as Christ and allow Him to transform us through the Holy Spirit.

Section 1 – Principles
We see some key principles highlighted in the Church at Antioch, so let’s first answer a few questions to see what you understand these principles to mean. We hope you will return to these after you finish this study and reflect on what might have changed in how you would answer these in light of the stories we will look at together.

  1. What does it mean to share?
  2. Who benefits from sharing?
  3. What does it mean to be a sending church?
  4. Who makes the sacrifice when a church sends leaders out to the mission field?

Section 2 – Passages

 Take some time to read through each of these passages about the Church at Antioch and consider the corresponding questions as you read. Write down or share your answers after reading each passage through a few times.

Read Acts 11:25-30
Ask: What stands out about how this church responds when they find out that there is going to be a famine?
Ask: How is their response different than what you would expect a group of people to do in a similar situation?

Read Acts 13:1-5
Ask: After a time of prayer and fasting what did this small group of five leaders decide to do?
Ask: From a strictly practical stand point, what makes the decision of these five leaders to follow through on the prompting of the Holy Spirit a very difficulty one?

Read Acts 14:26-15:4
Ask: When Barnabas and Paul return from their missionary journey, what do they do to include the Church at Antioch in their ministry?
Ask: Later as a conflict arises and the Church at Antioch seeks answers from the leaders in Jerusalem, what opportunity is acted on again by Barnabas and Paul as well as the Church at Antioch?

Section 3 – Personal
This section is designed to give you an opportunity to see what the Lord is showing you personally in the
story of the Church at Antioch.

  1. As you have been reading these stories are there any groups of people in your life who have come to mind that have lived out this kind of sharing in their ministry?
  2. Do you have any stories in your life when you have seen a fellowship of believers be a similar kind of sending church?

Section 4 – People
This video will give you a quick glimpse into the life of a group of believes living out these principles. Imagine yourself visiting the church that the video is about and answer a few questions afterward to help you connect their story to the story of the Church of Antioch.

WATCH Short Video on Small World Connections SWC YouTube Channel (10 minutes)
YouTube video titled: Small World Connections Timothy Culture Training Steve’s Story (video 4)

  1. In what ways does the story from the video interview about Steve’s church remind you of the Church at Antioch?
  2. In what particular ways do you see principles of sharing and sending lived out in the story of Steve’s church?

Section 5 – Practical Points
In this last section we will share a few points that will guide us into a closer look at the Church at Antioch and the ways they lived out what we call at Timothy culture in the Church. In addition to these points we will give some practical ways to apply these in the context of our ministry with Small World Connections and other mission efforts.

The Church at Antioch prepares for a famine
In the early Church that we read about in the Book of Acts the Lord often used a prophetic word to guide His people. We see in Acts 11:25-30 that not long after Barnabas had brought Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) back to Antioch of Syria to serve with him in teaching that some prophets traveled there from Jerusalem. It is clear that these men were trusted by the church leaders in Antioch, because after one of the prophets named Agabus predicted by the Holy Spirit that a great famine would be coming soon to the entire Roman world the church immediately took action.

The kind of action that they took however is what stands out most about this story. In v. 29-30 we read that these believers in Christ did not do what most of us would probably initially do if we found out that a disaster was heading our way. Instead of hearing that there would be a famine and starting to stock pile food to ensure their own survival, these Christians at Antioch of Syria passed the hat and took up a collection to send to the Church at Jerusalem.

Think about that for a moment. Instead of their first thought being how to take care of their own needs, they immediately thought of the needs of their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. This group of believers must have learned this kind of Christ-like attitude from somewhere, or more likely someone. They had recently seen Barnabas and his willingness to share his ministry with Saul (Paul) and as a result they had all been blessed with great teaching about their new faith. The term Christian simply means, “Little Christs,” and these people at Antioch of Syria are the first group of believers to be called Christians. That makes perfect sense because they were seen as a group of people who looked like their leaders Barnabas and Saul (Paul) who looked like their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the things that they said and the things that they did.

  1. Does the action that the Church at Antioch takes in this story remind you anything specifically that Jesus taught?
  2. The term “Little Christs” was most likely meant as a cut down by those around them who did not follow Jesus, however it ended being a huge statement about this community of believers and how they lived. What do you think would be said about a church like that today if they lived that way in our modern society?

The Church at Antioch listens to the Spirit
We learn a little bit more about this community of Christians in Acts 13:1-5. It becomes crystal clear from these few verses that the Church at Antioch was a church of faith in action. The leaders of the church were spending time worshipping and fasting together when the Holy Spirit suddenly spoke to them. We read that they not only listened to what they were told, but that they also obeyed and did what they were told. In this case the Holy Spirit made it clear that God was calling Barnabas and Saul (Paul) to a special task. We know now that they were being called to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the gentile world. We know now that this changed the course of history and even transformed Rome itself into a Christian nation. But they did not know any of that then. They only knew that God said to send them on their way. So they obeyed and sent Barnabas and Saul (Paul) on their first missionary journey.

It looks like this church had a great core group of five solid leaders that were committed to worship and prayer. In that process they found out that they would be losing two of those five leaders to missionary efforts in other parts of the world. So we find a situation in this story where the church would be left without two of their best leaders. In fact they were losing the two that had made the most sacrifice and moved there specifically to teach and preach the Word of God. We read in v.3 that they prayed and fasted then took action and sent them out. There doesn’t seem to be much hesitation. We don’t read that they had a few more meetings to work out the details. All we read is that laid hands on them in prayer and sent them on their way.

The Church at Antioch was a sending church because they walked by faith and acted on what the Lord told them to do. They did this even when it meant losing two of their best leaders for long periods of time. They put their faith into action. They were a sending church.

  1. As you imagine yourself in this situation, do you think it would be understandable to hesitate to send out two of the best leaders in your church?
  2. What are some common sense reasons they might have given for delaying this process and not sending them out right away or even at all?
  3. How would you summarize what you see the Church at Antioch living out in this story?

The Church at Antioch goes on a mission
As we read the end of Acts 14 Barnabas and Paul are wrapping up their first missionary journey. They arrived back at Antioch of Syria where they had started. In Acts 14:26-28 a pattern begins that reflects the way these early missionaries and their sending church saw their relationship. This first century church called everyone together to hear the details about how God had moved through the ministry of Barnabas and Saul.

Notice that they gave a report about everything that God had done to everyone in the Church at Antioch. We don’t know how many believers that actually amounted to, but what we do know is that it wasn’t just a small group of leaders. They reported the amazing grace of God and all of the details that came with it to the full body of Christ. The impression this gives is that Barnabas and Saul valued the people who sent them out and that those who sent them out saw themselves as part of what God had done. Here we find a monumental key to the success of this church or any church being a sending church. Namely, they directly shared in the ministry of the Gospel as they sent out missionaries from their church.

If you were to ask Barnabas and Paul, they would have told you that they had all been on that journey together. They would not be able to see themselves as alone. They knew first of all the God was with them and that they were only a part of the Body of Christ that was on the journey. Another way to say that is that they might have been the tip of the spear but that whole church was behind them as they took the message of Christ to a lost world. To say that the Church at Antioch was a missions-minded church would somehow seem far too small of a statement. It would be more accurate to say that the Church at Antioch was on a mission together so that others may know and follow Jesus Christ.

This pattern continues to play out in Acts 15:1-4 even as there is a conflict that results in Barnabas and Paul being sent to Jerusalem as delegates to receive input from the apostles about a question they needed clarified. When they arrive in Jerusalem, to again be the tip of the spear and represent their local church, they find another opportunity to share about all that God had done through them to reach the gentiles. In v.4 we see the same attitude in the Church in Jerusalem that was shown in Antioch. Thewhole church, including the elders and apostles, came together to hear their story and were blessed by it. There was a true sense within the whole Church of sharing in the sending of the early missionaries. They as the Body of Christ loved to hear what God was doing to reach the world with the Good News of God’s salvation and grace.

  1. After reading these stories about the early Church, how do you imagine they would have answered if a stranger would have asked them who the missionaries were in their church?
  2. In the Church at Antioch do you think that their pattern of sending out their best leaders into the mission field would have impacted the growth of the church and in what ways do you think it would impact it?

Church at Antioch – Sharing and Sending Relationship Application Opportunities:
a. The Church at Antioch felt they had a direct role in the work that Barnabas and Paul were doing when they went on mission trips. Find and show the clip from the film Forest Gump (titled Best Scene Ever on YouTube) where he tells Jenny all of the amazing things he has seen in his life just before she passes away. At the end of this description Jenny is deep in thought and simply says that she wishes she could have been there with him. Forest looks at her and tells her that she was there. Make the point that those who send out our mission teams and missionaries from local churches are also with them as they serve the King on the mission field.
b. Following that set up a trip with members from your church to go and serve one of your supported missionaries. Make an effort to connect with missionaries your church supports by serving them directly in addition to financial and prayer support.
c. If you plan that trip be sure to include others within your church as part of your financial and prayer support team. Make sure to call the whole church together when you return and let each team member share their story of their time serving on the mission trip. Be sure to point out the whole church that the stories you are sharing are what God accomplished through them as well.
d. In the spirit of sharing and serving, work to form a team within your own church that is available to serve programs and ministries in some of the other local churches in your community. You could volunteer to help other churches with work projects on their building or show up to help as volunteers for their vacation Bible school. This sharing in ministry will create a clear picture of your joy in being part of the whole Body of Christ.

Return to our initial questions under Section 1- Principles and see if you would answer those any differently. Use the space below to highlight your change in perspective on those questions.