Encouragement from the early church in trying times

August 25, 2020

Where do we turn at this moment in history for wisdom, direction and inspiration? Many leaders are tired, fearful or wrestle with thoughts of doubt and discouragement. Every leader I know could use some encouragement in our country’s current circumstances.

Our hope is not in endless cohorts and online content that teach us how to maneuver through all the challenges that COVID-19 has created for our ministries. By now everyone is burned out on Zoom meetings. Although we praise God for those who provided, and continue to provide, great content and make it accessible to so many leaders, the challenges that hit in March are still here and could be with us for some time to come.

We are not the first generation of leaders who have had to navigate trying times. We can go all the way back to the Book of Acts when God birthed His church and see that throughout history the world has been filled with challenges, pandemics and persecution.

The church at Antioch, first seen in Acts 11:19-30, is an example of a new church, birthed during a crisis, but used by God to impact the world. As a matter of fact, the only reason your church or my church is here today is because a small band of unnamed believers were pushed out of Jerusalem and by God’s grace ended up in Antioch.

We are not the first generation of leaders who have had to navigate trying times.

Some of those believers spoke the Word to only Jewish people in Antioch, but others proclaimed the good news of Jesus to the “Greeks.” The result of proclaiming the good news to both Jews and Greeks is that the first Gentile church was planted in Antioch. Acts 13 shows us that the leadership of the church at Antioch was diverse. Only God can birth a diverse church out of such challenging circumstances.

Be encouraged, friends. The men and women God used to start the church in Antioch were ordinary people, filled with the Holy Spirit — the same Holy Spirit that fills the believers in your church or on your launch team. The message these ordinary men and women proclaimed is the same message that arms the band of believers in your location: Good news of a great God who rescues sinners, reconciles people, and will one day restore creation and reign forever.

I don’t know about you, but I have to fight every day for the faith needed to lead during this season in the life of our church. Imagining that small band of unnamed disciples faithfully proclaiming the good news of Jesus encourages my heart. I pray it encourages you as well. Remember the words of Acts 11:21, which says, “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord” (ESV).

May the hand of the Lord be with you.


by Barry Murry 
/  Catalyst with Church Planting NC  / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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