In union with Priscilla and Aquila, Paul pioneered the church in Corinth during his second missionary journey. Although the church was probably still in it’s infant stage, when opposition to his ministry arose, he entrusted it in to the hands of the existing leaders and moved on. He eventually landed in Ephesus and spent three years pioneering a church in that city too.
He wrote his first instructional letter to the church in Corinth during his time in Ephesus, and as he brings that letter to its conclusion, this is what he writes:
1 Cor 16:17,18 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18 for they have refreshed my spirit as well as yours. GIVE RECOGNITION TO SUCH MEN.
Apparently, the church had commissioned and sent this trio of men as representatives of their love and care for Paul and he wants the whole church to know that these three, acting on the whole church’s behalf, have provoked him to rejoice.
MISSIONARY REFRESHED, THAT MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Specifically, he wanted the church to know that their representatives have REFRESHED his spirit.
But that’s not all.
CHURCH REFRESHED, A BEAUTIFUL BY-PRODUCT
He also wanted them to know that he believes the spirit of their church has also been refreshed as a by-product of the spiritual refreshment he has received from their fellow church members that have visited him.
Said another way, Paul is convinced that the spirit of a local church is refreshed when it sends a few of its own members to visit, encourage, and refresh the spirit of a missionary on the church’s behalf.
He then goes on to say something even more thought-provoking.
CHURCH-WIDE RECOGNITION OF MISSIONARY ENCOURAGERS
He tells the church that they should recognize, or acknowledge their members that God has gifted with the ability to refresh the spirit of those He calls to serve as missionaries.
In other words, Paul is convinced that a local church NEEDS to publicly recognize its own members that God uses to refresh missionaries on their behalf.
What might be some of the reasons why Paul believes local churches should acknowledge their own members that refresh the spirit of missionaries?
SIX REASONS WHY EVERY CHURCH SHOULD DO THIS
Although Paul doesn’t reveal the reasons why he commands the church to do so, here are six reasons why Shepherd’s Staff believes every local church should intentionally and publicly recognize its members that God uses to refresh the spirits of missionaries:
1–It GLORIFIES God
By reflecting what the Tri-une God did when the Son was sent in to our world as the ultimate missionary–the Holy Spirit visited and refreshed Jesus in His spirit at pivotal moments in His life and ministry here on the mission field that is planet earth.
2–It REINFORCES the church’s role in God’s global purposes
By reminding and solidifying the reality that a local church is a true participant in declaring His glory among the nations, and that He has created them to have impact for Him both across the street and around the world.
3–It REVEALS the unified-diversity of the body of Christ
By honoring those that have the gift of encouragement and are willing to be good stewards of their giftedness, even though it costs them within the realm of their time, resources, and relationships to do so–it beautifully unveils the body’s diversity working together in unity for a cause larger than their own interests.
4–It CHALLENGES all the members of the church
By provoking them to consider fresh ways that they themselves can participate in God’s global purposes as senders and carers for those that He calls to go.
5–It CONFIRMS the status of the missionary’s connection with the church
By reminding both the missionary and all of the church members that the geographic distance between them hasn’t damaged the relationship or severed the flow of love and kindness between them.
6–It COMFORTS the church member who is sensing God may be calling them to go
By declaring to them that their church believes missionary care is a high enough priority to warrant keeping the whole body informed about–it’s commitment and connection to missionaries isn’t limited to just sending and saying good-bye.
Is it possible that the overall health of a local can be increased by publicly recognizing it’s own members that bring refreshment to missionaries?
Paul thought so, and so does Shepherd’s Staff.