24 October 2017
Reading: Job 12-14; Acts 19-20
20 I didn’t skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, 21 urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus; 31 So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another. (Acts 20:20-21; 31 MSG)
This was Paul’s final meeting with the leaders of the Ephesus church, here on the beach at Miletus. This church had begun when Paul met and baptized twelve disciples of John the Baptist and they believed in Jesus and received God’s Holy Spirit. This church was like family to Paul and was, after Antioch, the church where he had invested the most of his time, energy, and heart.
In these verses, he briefly outlines his ministry with the church at Ephesus. I think it could be a good pattern for church ministry today. Paul said:
• I taught every truth that could make a difference to you. He didn’t teach doctrinal technicalities , he taught them a broad range of life-application truth.
• I taught in public and in your homes. Church life consisted of large gatherings and intimate house meetings.
• I worked with Jews and Greeks alike. The Ephesus church was a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-cultural.
• I challenged you to radical life-change before God and equally radical trust in Master Jesus – beginning with a foundation of repentance and faith.
• I poured my heart out with you, one after another, in both personal discipling and mentoring of leaders.
Paul’s method of ministry at Ephesus seems like an ideal pattern for healthy church development. It will still work today in any culture and in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.
Father, Today I pray for all of us Church leaders and Christ-followers to be open to a balanced and comprehensive approach to church leadership, ministry, and leadership development. Help us to use our gifts to the greatest effect in the situation you have placed us in. Amen.