Desmond Henry on the Apostle Paul: Partnership in Evangelism and Mission, Part One

Image: James Newcombe/Unsplash
Image: James Newcombe/Unsplash

I’ve lived in the Global South my entire life and have served in ministry in the nations of Botswana and South Africa. I love what God is doing around the world, and especially in the Majority World. For too long, Africa has been seen as the ‘dark continent’, where the light of the gospel shines dimly. God is a global God (let’s rejoice) and we need to pause and celebrate the reality that the gospel is spreading globally and multitudes in Africa (and many other places in the Global South) are committing their lives to Christ daily. Yet, despite the growth we have seen, there’s also an evident need for gospel depth in the lives of Christians. Continued growth and depth will require greater glocal (yes, that’s a word) partnership.

The Apostle Paul is a good example of someone who partnered with others for the sake of the Gospel, and through relational connections, accomplished the mission Christ gave him to fulfil. This article will present four Pauline principles related to successful ministry partnership based on Romans 15 and 16. Paul states, in Romans 15:20: “My aim is to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but, as it is written, those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” Paul, in this passage, defines his ministry lane and exposes important truths that must be applied for the effective (yet simple) spreading of the gospel and for the multiplication of gospel relationships that lead to deeper cultural and societal permeation. Join me, in part one, as we explore these multilateral ministry partnerships as described in Romans 15 and 16 respectively. Congruent with the biblical discipleship imperative, in part two, we will explore a missional partnership matrix and on how to move believers toward becoming multipliers in ministry, and not just consumers of religious goods and services.

Paul’s Multilateral Partnership Plan

The Apostle Paul truly believed that the way Jesus modeled his ministry was the best way to function in spreading the gospel in a globalised Roman Empire. Paul’s passion for the gospel, love for the Gentiles and ability to set in place systems led to the multiplication of opportunities for believers to partner for the sake of the Gospel. His letters bear testimony to Paul’s commitment to movemental Christianity in the long haul; trusting God to use believers to accomplish this end. Using Romans 15 and 16 as a catalyst I have listed four important principles below that are derived from Paul’s ministry. These form an important foundation for a ministry of multiplication.

1. Leadership Versatility

Throughout the New Testament, we read about Paul connecting with numerous people in establishing the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Paul multiplied his ministry vision to the army of committed believers and harnessed their skills, gifts and abilities for the Kingdom good. Romans 15 (written on Paul’s third missionary journey c.a. AD 57) links beautifully with Ephesians 4 (written c.a. AD 60 from Rome while imprisoned) where Paul describes in verse 11 the diversity of roles God has given for the equipping of the church. These roles describe the versatility and diversity required of leaders and the need for multiple inputs without relying on one leader for all these qualities. In Romans 15: 14-21, Paul describes his leadership and ministry lane in relation to the Missio Dei, while in Ephesians 4: 11-17, Paul legitimises the gift of Christ’s diverse body for the united task of reaching the world.

2. Team Dependency

The monopoly of ministry by the clergy will not rightly serve the mission of God; the mission of God embraces all of God’s people, utilises their full gifting in Christ and moves them to places in the world where their gifting and the greatest need exist. The danger of church redundancy will only grow in a church culture that fosters the mentality that ministry is for paid professionals and a select few. Paul continually testifies to a better way. Throughout the New Testament, Paul mentioned some 150 names of men and women who formed part of his greater team. In Romans 16 alone Paul mentions many individuals and families who were a blessing to Him and a help in spreading the Gospel. Paul’s multiplication mindset ensured that he lived out what he asked of Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2. Mission leads to a multiplication of ministry for believers, not a monopoly of opportunity for a few.

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Source: Christianity Today