Churches, like people, need mentors. When Grace Community Church started, we found a mentor in Acts 11. As the first core group met together to talk about what a church is and what our church should be like, we looked to Acts for guidance. There we found the church in the city of Antioch (now Antakya in southern Turkey).
Acts 11 says that the message of the Lord Jesus made its way to Antioch because the followers of Jesus who fled persecution in Jerusalem brought it with them. As they shared the gospel, “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21)
At this point, the church in Antioch becomes a mentor to us. In response to God who graciously turned them to himself, they became a disciple-making, serving, and sending congregation. In fact, their teaching and living were so centered on Christ that they were, for the first time in history, called Christians. (Acts 11:26)
This Sunday is the 24th anniversary of our church. This week I have been reflecting on the church in Antioch and revisiting the lessons to be learned from one of our mentors. Here are a few for us to consider over the weekend:
1. We should pray for the evident grace of God in the conversion of many people to Christ. (vv. 21, 23 & 24)
2. The message we learn, believe, and speak is centered on a person: the Lord Jesus. (v. 20)
3. We should respond to the grace and work of God among us with intentional discipleship, mutual care, and mission activity. (vv. 26, 29 & Acts 13:1-3)
4. We should reclaim the word “Christian” to mean those whose teaching and living remind others of Christ’s. (v. 26)
I’m sure there are some things about the church of Antioch that do not translate into the context of 21st century church life in Nashville. But mentors are not to be mimicked. They are to be models. I hope you will join us Sunday as we rejoice in the grace of God and learn from a helpful mentor.