There was a slightly longer break between the last session and this one. I took advantage of the opportunity to doze. I didn’t think I was heavily asleep, but a friend of mine said he knocked loudly on my door and called my name without getting any response! As a result of my sleep, I do feel a lot fresher and am now even more eager to hear from Dave Devenish, who will be preaching to us this evening.
Dave Devenish of Woodside Church Bedford UK now leads teams working with churches in the Ukraine, and other eastern European nations.
See also Andrew Fountain’s notes from this talk: The Ephesus Mission – A Pattern for World Evangelism.
David is a unique gift of God to our family of churches. His voice and delivery are unique and his passionate love of the global work of God in and through His Church are impossible to miss. Dave took us to Acts 19. He gave his talk the title, “The Ephesus Mission — A Pattern For World Evangelization.”
We in Newfrontiers are all being mobilized to go on a mission together to the ends of the earth. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. This promise of God is repeated in several places in the Scriptures. Devenish explained that this verse keeps him going through all the challenges of building churches around the world, and in some of the most challenging nations in which he works. The mission of God is that he will be glorified in all the earth. We are witnesses from God. What is my inheritance in your mission to this world?
Ephesus was a church with influence. God wants to build large churches that will make a difference. In Bedford we have around 1% of the population in a Newfrontiers church. In Ephesus God was made known in contrast to the false Gods — “These man-made gods are no gods at all!” The city and the province were filled, and there was also opposition.
We need to follow the same strategy we see in Ephesus, even if it takes a lot longer than three years. So what was Paul’s strategy?
- He established a base church that would become an Apostolic base. Paul planted key churches in cities and let them fill in around them. The Lord’s message rang out from individual churches. Amazingly, back in Acts 16, Paul was kept from going to Asia. There was a need to act in line with God’s prophetic timing. God’s timing is critical. Paul did go briefly, and sent a pioneer couple who he left there in faith.
- He insured that key values were established in the core group. When Paul arrived, he met some disciples, and realized something was wrong. An area of weakness in establishing a church is not making sure that the key people understand the core values. An example might be not setting some of the first converts free from fear. Suddenly the whole church can be full of fear. Paul was firm in his desire to plant a community of the Spirit. We need people to have the power of God to deal with everything they are going to face. The core group needs to know and understand what we are going to build.
- Paul taught consistent teaching of Apostolic revelation daily. Standing in one hall and teaching led to a whole region hearing the Gospel. What was taught was so clear that everyone heard. Such commitment to teach and such hunger to receive will have such benefits. Dave has a body of doctrine that he teaches almost everywhere he goes; he shares what he believes is an Apostolic foundation for the church. There is a body of foundational truth that we have to teach in every church. There is a need also to grasp the big picture from Genesis to Revelation — the purposes of God revealed, fulfilled in Christ, and the part you play in fulfilling God’s work in response to what Christ has done. God has started remaking the world. Christ is the seed of Abraham and through him every nation will be blessed. We have our part in bringing those blessings to the world. God’s kingdom is being revealed in the son of David. Christ’s reign has begun now. We are part of that kingdom — a new people from every nation who are all one in Christ.
- Power Evangelism. Paul did no ordinary miracles! There was a tangible anointing. It is interesting to see that there was a transferable tangible thing that could even be imparted via handkerchiefs that had touched him. The ordinary things of Paul’s trade were touched by God’s power. God wants us to become more familiar with his anointing. Healings can happen suddenly and sovereignly by God without us doing anything to trigger them. Sometimes healing can happen when we, in faith, cry out to God to heal. Dave also had some stories to share of his own experience in this area.
- They confronted the culture and worldview. The strongholds of a culture need to be addressed. There was a very dramatic example of that in this chapter. Ephesus had a large number of gods, so someone tried to adopt Jesus as just another one. The demons knew not only who Jesus was, but who Paul was. Demonic strongholds had to be confronted. Church life in the West panders to consumerism or business management efficiency without really challenging our culture with the Gospel. When the people saw the power of God manifest, they dealt with the manifestations of their magical culture. They repented of the hidden things. Often people can believe on a fragment of truth and a felt need, but there are things that then need to be confronted.
- Paul models relational servant leadership. Paul calls on the elders to imitate the way he led them. Paul had a relational style of leadership. He wasn’t just on platforms, but house-to-house. There was much weeping when Paul told them he wouldn’t see them again.
- Paul endured massive opposition and pressure. Paul spoke of the hardships he suffered in the province of Asia in his letter to the Corinthians. It led almost to despair. We can’t underestimate what a challenge it is to go into a place where there are no believers.
- He prepared for future advance. While revival was happening, he was planning to move on. He knew he had to move on. The savage wolves were the elders’ responsibility — he wouldn’t stay because he had to move on. Apostles are not the senior managers of a region; they are called by God to train leaders to establish the Church and then move on.
The kingdom of God needs to come to every area of our world and every type of people. God is calling us to be on a mission together. Let’s follow this way.