Lesson 10

Structures for Witnessing

(Acts 1 & 14, Galatians 2, Luke 10)
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Introduction: I am reading a book about early church leaders. One significant area of dispute was the issue of church organization. That controversy is reflected in the Christian church today. Some churches are heavily organized while others have little, if any, formal organization. The idea behind little, formal organization is that Christ is the head of the church, therefore the Holy Spirit is all the organization you need. Those in favor of more organization would respond that the Holy Spirit guides leaders to create the proper organizational structure. How about witnessing? Should that be organized? Our studies so far suggest organization, so let's jump into our lesson and learn more!

  1. Organization?

    1. Read Acts 1:6-9. Our lesson points to verse 8 as an example of organization for witnessing? Do you agree? Is this a plan for organization? Or is this just a prediction?

      1. If you see organization in this, how organized is this?

      2. Consider again verse 6. Is verse 8 an answer to the question of verse 6? Does verse 6 give us an idea about how the disciples would organize witnessing if they were left to their own ideas? (They were focused on Israel. Jesus told them their "kingdom restoration message" was for the world. We need to check our witnessing ideas against God's plan.)

      3. These verses not only have direction on the geography of witnessing, they contain directions on the timing of witnessing. Who is in charge of the timing? (The Holy Spirit.)

        1. Is that still true today?

        2. What do we do if we don't "feel the power" of the Holy Spirit? Should we table our witnessing plans until we do?

    2. Peter, James, John and Paul are some of the most prominent names in the New Testament. Let's read Galatians 2:7-9. What organization do you see in these verses?

      1. How would you apply this idea today? Should certain members go to certain racial groups? Certain nationalities? Or is there a more logical way to organize our witnessing today?

        1. If so, what is it?

    3. Read Luke 10:1-2. Is sending out witnesses "two by two" an organizational issue? Why go out in couples? (I do not like to travel alone on business. I prefer to go with at least one other person. The idea of sending witnesses out with companions no doubt encouraged them in their work and made their work more pleasant.)

      1. Notice that they went to towns before Jesus went to that town. What do you think was the reason for that?

        1. How would you duplicate that organization today? (The advance teams were no doubt to create interest in Jesus' coming. I think this is similar to advertising today. It is similar to "word of mouth" work prior to a witnessing series. It seems to bolster the idea of doing advance cultivation for witnessing.)

    4. These texts point to organization in witnessing. They staked out territories for work, prepared the area and worked in teams. Let's explore next the specific kinds of organization for witnessing we can have as part of our church structure.

  2. Meeting Places

    1. Read Acts 13:13-16. Why did Paul take his missionary team into a synagogue on the Sabbath?

    2. Read Acts 5:41-42. This text tells us the apostles witnessed in the temple courts and in homes. Does this simply mean that they witnessed everywhere? Or, do you see some organization in this?

      1. Our lesson suggests (Wednesday) that the new believers met in the synagogues (and the temple) for worship with the Jews and met in homes when worshiping with Gentiles.

        1. Would you do things that way?

        2. Was this just a practical matter to get around Jewish racial rules (see Acts 21:27-29)?

      2. Should we today have witnessing meetings in our homes as well as in our churches?

        1. What advantages do you see in having meetings in our homes?

        2. What disadvantages do you see in having meetings in our homes?

        3. In our witnessing plan, should we have certain types of people met in homes and other types in church? (If a person has never attended church, meeting in a home may be a lot less intimidating. It certainly is less of a "step" to invite someone to your home than to invite them to your church.)

  3. Creating New Churches

    1. Read Acts 14:21-23. This text shows that Paul and Barnabas were "planting" new churches in each of these towns. Our lesson has a quote from C. Peter Wagner (Church Planting for a Greater Harvest, p.11) that the "single most effective evangelistic methodology" is creating new churches. Do you agree?

      1. If you do, why is the creation of a new church a better outreach than strengthening an existing church?

      2. Do you sometimes think that your church could do a better job of outreach and a better job of holding present members if you simply had more members and more money?

      3. Verse 23 tells us that they appointed local elders in each of these new churches. What is the point of that? Does this have anything to do with witnessing? (This points to the real issue. A large church will have more resources and be able to make a more "polished" outreach. However, big churches allow people to just ride along with the program. In a smaller church, the individual members are more likely to be involved. Being involved makes you an "owner" of the program. Paul appointed local elders so that they would understand it was their church and their program. If you have a bigger church, I think small groups are incredibly important because they allow for personal involvement.)

      4. Has your church ever "planted" another church? Do you have any plans to plant a new church?

  4. Bi-vocational Workers

    1. Read Acts 18:1-5. Recently, someone mentioned to me that the trend in this area is to have more church pastors who have another job. They are called "bi-vocational pastors."

      1. Was Paul a bi-vocational pastor? (Yes. He was a preacher and a tent-maker.)

      2. Is this the ideal? What advantages or disadvantages to you see in organizing your church along those lines?

        1. Would it be better to have two bi-vocational pastors than one full-time pastor?

      3. If you consider only verses 1-4, is Paul spending more time making tents or preaching the gospel? (It seems he is preaching only on Sabbath.)

      4. What allowed Paul to devote himself exclusively to preaching? (Verse 5: the arrival of two other workers.)

        1. Does this progression (by Paul) to full time work make it appear that the ideal is to have full-time pastors?(I am not sure it is a progression. Some verses make it seem that Paul was engaged in full-time witnessing before. However, verses like Acts 17:2 suggest that he had a past of preaching on Sabbaths and perhaps working as a tentmaker during the week.(See also 2 Corinthians 11:8-9, Acts 20:33-35 and 1 Thessalonians 2:9.))

        2. Or, is it just an obviously inefficient use of Paul's time to be making tents?

        3. Is there a lesson in this for our witnessing? Do we have an excuse for not spending part of our time in witnessing activities for others?

    2. Friend, our study today seems to indicate that God prefers organization in witnessing. Has your church developed a plan for witnessing? Are you willing to suggest one?

  5. Next Week: Places and Occasions for Witnessing

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