Friday, 17 July 2009

Issues of growth and transition

In Acts 13, the local church team releases Barnabas and Paul to travel as an apostolic team. With Barnabas leaving the church there is a transition to a team, which can bring with it massive issues. It can be difficult when an established leader hands over to a successor – the underlying character and attitude of both are key here, how the transition between the old and new leader takes place. It takes grace to stand back and allow someone else to take over – a real test of character.

In Acts 15 we see that this team has to be accountable to the apostolic team in Jerusalem. There are issues of theology at this point which need to be resolved and as these issues are thrashed out useful principles are laid down for other churches. The apostolic team then send Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. Later, when these two make plans to revisit the churches where they have had previous input a dispute blows up between them – over a young team member! Should John Mark be included? His track record was that he had dropped out of a previous missions trip – was he going to prove unreliable again? There is the added complication of family ties between John Mark and Barnabas (they are thought to have been cousins) - this can be an issue today. Should family members, say husband and wife, be employed together? Is there a danger of a power/opinion block on the team?

The dispute over this one junior team member is such that the team splits! This is obviously not good – but God uses the situation. The two halves of the team go in different directions geographically, so covering more ground and there is later restoration of John Mark.