Acts The Church and Ministerial Training

Kaitiaki's picture

Basically this is just a "what do we learn about the Church from Acts?" thread. As we watch Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and Silas building the Church in Acts, what can we learn about their concept of the Church as a whole? Robert suggested my original plan was too cumbersome so asked me to create new threads.

Thread Moderator: Kaitiaki

There are two aspects to this thread: the training of the local congregation (for the work of ministry - as in Ephesians) and the theological training of ministers (or pastors).

Acts shows us local congregations that trained young men (and women) for every appropriate aspect of Church work. That included the work of ministry and missions. Discuss this statement. Do you think it is valid? What implications (if any) are there for the present system in almost every denomination of sending young men to a seminary to be trained? How does your Church seek to apply those implications in the way they train ministers and missionaries?

CLARK E. WADE's picture

Many kinds of meetings...

Hey brother,

We're just going to have to disagree on that one. I do believe there were different kinds of meetings, and they were opened to the Spirit. The passage you cited in Acts 20 was the Lord's Supper meeting. The scriptures say the early church was devoted to the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and the prayers. There could possibly be place right there for four differet kinds of meetings, or they mixed it all up into one; I don't know. The meetings described in I Cor. 14 are for the exercise of spiritual gifts one to another for the edification of the church. There were business meetings when there was some kind of church crisis going on, and as I read scripture, even these meetings more often than not included the whole body in the decision-making process, i.e. "then the apostles, elders, TOGETHER WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH resolved to select men from among their number...It has been resolved by us IN ASSEMBLY to select men..." (Acts 15:22,25)And regarding Acts 20, I don't think they had the privilege of having Paul there very often, so this was a meeting that turned into an apostolic meeting simply because an apostle was in attendance. If this was a modern equivalent of the church, and if Paul wasn't slated to speak in the bulletin, then he would have had to clear some hurdles first. And had Paul not been there, it would have probbly been a meeting more like the one envisioned in I Cor. 14, or it could have been a different thing all together as they were open to the Headship of Jesus Christ operating in the meeting as He willed. Remember when the church gathered to pray for Peter, who was in jail? This turned into a prayer meeting. Then there was the kind of meeting in Antioch where they simply focused on the Lord, in ministry to Christ. How I would have loved to have been in that meeting. It was this kind of meeting that the Lord spoke and Barnabas and Saul were called and sent out as apostles. There was the "waiting" meeting that took place in the upper room as they were bidden to do by our Lord. I think there was a lot of diversity, flexability, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, as these were "unprogrammed" meetings. There were no bulletins describing the "order of service" at all. I think there was a high level of anticipation in not knowing what was going to happen and that God had free reign and sovereignty to surprise the meetings by His presence and power, especially as they were in one accord.

And brother, I apologize if it sounds like I'm criticizing the role of sermons and such. I know that raises some hackles. What I question is the central role sermons and our modern "order of service" has compared to the early church and if these are improvements or obstacles.

Regarding our study here, are we to assume that Hebrews 10:25 that speaks of the assembly of the saints to mutually encourage one another has simply evolved to the situation we have today where one person is called to minister on behalf of the body to the assembly as an improvement? If, in our research here on the early church, if we do discover some secrets of their genius and power that we have left behind, then I guess it would be a matter of personal reflection and choice whether or not to attempt to follow suit and press on and into the prize of the church's high calling in Christ Jesus. These reflections on the early church can be viewed as another bible study or academic exercise that doesnt bear a lot of fruit, or they can truly challenge our core beliefs and practices in a very dynamic way. Those who choose the former, I will continue to hold up in prayer and respect as my dear brothers in Christ.

Also, there is a pdf file that I highly recommend to everyone that is interested in this study from a brother who was so deeply challenged by these passages that he changed the way churches were done in China that more closely resembled the early churches, and that is Watchman Nee's classic book, "The Normal Christian Church Life."

Regarding this discussion on the differences between an apostolic meeting and the meetings of the ekklesia, I especially recommend chapter nine, "The Organization of Local Churches."

Your brother and His,