Learning about Church Planting from Paul…The Employee

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila…Because they practiced the same trade, he worked with them. They all worked with leather. Every Sabbath he interacted with people in the synagogue, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks. Once Silas and Timothy arrived, Paul devoted himself fully to the word.

Acts 18:2-4

The more I read Acts, the more normal and inspirational the early disciples seem to be.

Paul, in his eighteen months in Corinth, is seen here working a full-time job. He works with leather or making tents. And once he was off work (on Saturdays), he would do the work of church planting.

Two things I learn from this.

  1. Paul was such a normal guy, and God blessed his margins abundantly.
    He was a normal working person, just like most of us. Yet he was able to do the work of God tremendously. Say he worked 40 hours a week, and only did ministry on Saturdays (I wonder if he rested or took vacations?), the church in Corinth was able to grow.

    This tells me that God blessed his ministry on the margins.

    When I say margins I mean, times where he’s not working. God made great, great use of those short times that he was able to grow the church through Paul. Anytime Paul was not working, God granted him opportunities to make disciples, to heal the sick, and to talk to people about Jesus.

    Can we believe that God can bless our margin times? Can we believe that God can grow a church out of us even if we’re working full time, or we’re taking care of kids, or hard studying at school? The work of the church is by nature supernatural. Can we believe for supernatural results amidst low amounts of time available? Paul perfectly exemplified fruitfulness amidst being “busy”. I’m believing for such fruitfulness in the margins of my life!

  2. If left to his devices, Paul would spend his free time talking about Jesus. How about us?
    Paul worked full-time for some time and on the weekends did the work of church-planting. Only when Silas and Timothy arrive did he give his full time to making more disciples. This begs a poignant question for us:

    If we didn’t had to work, we had all the free time in the world, what would we do?

    For Paul, the passion to make disciples was what he did on his free time. When left to his devices, that’s what he did. I feel that so many of us who work, or are faithfully busy doing something, if given the chance to not do it, would struggle to say that making disciples is our passion. If I didn’t work, I would go play basketball every day!

    But free time is often an indicator of where our heart is. And so what is aching or burning in our hearts?

    Do we gaze outside the windows of our cubicles imagining ourselves doing the next middle-class distraction, or are we burning to make disciples?

    I don’t say this because I am this burning one like Paul. But I say this because I’m that person whose heart quickly fixates on the latest activity. I desire the motor of my life to be similarly formed in the fashion that Paul’s was-his life was spent making disciples, both in seasons of busy-ness and in his free time.

God, I pray that you would first release your heart to us. How you love to make disciples because it is the joy of your life to see the people who you formed to have a relationship with you and have their lives transformed as they listen and obey you, which is the nature of discipleship. Give us this burning passion and make dull the vast and increasing entertainments offered to us. If the Devil is in the business of distractions then deliver us from the evil of distraction. Not a moral evil, but the evil of living an insignificant life, when eternal rewards are offered to those who serve the living God to make great his kingdom. 

Come and bless our margin times. For we are often tired, weak, and busy. Make every opportunity with unbelievers meaningful and powerful as it was for Paul. And so grow the church through our ordinary lives we pray in Jesus’ name!

Posted by Phillip Chan

Phil has been writing in the Black Box for 10 years. His passion is to grow in his love for Jesus to obey his purposes in our generation.

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