Deciding to have a ministry

Acts 15:36-16:10

Jerry A Collins



  1. How does disagreement accomplish more ministry?
  2. How does God advance His work in the world?
  3. Does God call us to specific tasks?

How do we decide to have a ministry? When we have it how do we decide to conduct it? I have met all kinds of people involved in all kinds of ministry. Paul and Marjorie powers started the Little People’s ministry. A ministry to children who need to hear the gospel. Recently I attended a banquet celebrating 20 yrs of a ministry started to heal broken marriages. I received a call yesterday from a family who we have begun to support in a ministry with Jesus Films of Campus Crusade for Christ. Sathish and Helen have begun a Bible training Seminary in Bangelore, India. I have many friends who have started churches, feeding the poor, biker evangelism, discipling teenagers, and prison ministry. How does all of this happen? What is necessary for us to have a ministry? Our passage will reveal to us how ministry takes shape in our lives.


There may not necessarily be anything spiritual about this first conclusion but it is one that we must be serious about. If you have a desire to be involved that may mean you should. Notice that Paul wanted to begin his second missionary journey simply because he wanted to see how they are. That is, the churches he had planted on his 1st journey and the believers he wanted to encourage further was something he desired to do. So he suggests this trip to Barnabas, his previous companion. He must know how his converts are getting along. One new thing I am learning about Apostle Paul is his intense love and concern for the believers he has served. Several passages reveal this to us in his letters (Acts 20:17-38; 2 Cor 2:1-4; 2 Tim 1:1-5; Rom 1:8-12; Phil 1:3-8; Gal 4:12-20; Eph 1:15-19; Col 2:1-5; 1 Thess 3:5-10; Pjilemon 1:4-7). It is clear everywhere you read of his compassion and love for these people. So his desire is to continue that kind of ministry with them and see new ones come to faith in Christ. Do not underestimate your desire for a special kind of ministry. Everything I am doing in my life that qualifies as ministry is something I desire to do. God never intended for ministry to be a drudgery but something consistent with your passions, desires and longings. So take that as a cue to move into it and devise a way to get involved in it.


The fact is Barnabas and Paul had a major disagreement and on the surface we mite think this is a terrible thing. The context describes the disagreement over whether John Mark, a relative of Barnabas, should travel with them on this second journey. Barnabas said yes and Paul said no. Apparently, from Paul’s point of view, when John left them during the 1st journey, he considered it abandonment. Mark was not worthy of another chance to travel along. And here is that ‘desire’ thing again in vs 37. Barnabas was desirous to take him so he did. And that allowed for even more ministry to take place. The disagreement was so severe that Paul separated and took Silas with him instead vs 40. Now there is nothing here to indicate that they ended up disliking each other. However, their separation did have at least one good effect—namely, that now there were two teams going out instead of one. And that meant the effect of the work begun would be multiplied. More territory could be covered and more people could be reached in less time. We should not view all disagreements that may lead to division as a bad or sinful thing. Splits like this usually help Christianity in the long run. The split during the reformation between the protestors and the Catholic Church, when the Armenians separated from the Calvinists, when Whitefield separated from the Wesleys, when premils separated from amils, the separation allows both groups to pursue their own convictions and it seems generally, that God uses them both. No person or group is right about everything. Besides in Paul’s case, he, several years later, saw this same John Mark as an asset to the ministry (2 Tim 4:11). This future usefulness of John Mark could be traced back to the influence Barnabas may have had on him. Further, it may be that this rift brought home to him the seriousness of the thing he had done when he had left on that 1st journey and motivated him to make up for it and change his ways. The How do we decide to have a ministry

end result of all of this was that the churches were strengthened and the work carried on.


While doing our ministry we should remain aware of the need to raise up and disciple others for a new generation of ministry God will provide for them in the days and years ahead. At Lystra a young believer named Timothy impressed Paul. First, he was of mixed heritage. Jewish mother and a Greek father. Second, he was well-spoken of. When we try and develop future leadership it should be with people we believe have the potential because of their character to have an effective ministry for the Kingdom of God. The interesting thing here, is that Silas, replaced Barnabas, and now Timothy fills the place John Mark had occupied during the 1st journey. Then Paul has him circumcised. No needless offense was to be given to the Jews and in fact, this spirit was precisely that of the Jerusalem decrees which they were now carrying around. This circumcision was necessary for effective evangelistic ministry among Jews (1 Cor 9:20-22). Apparently this kind of sensitivity made for an effective ministry in the area they were serving. Here, by the way, is the fifth progress report made by Luke about the growth and establishment of the church (2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24;). So, identify those who have the potential because of their background and/or character, desire and build into them. Timothy became like a son to Paul as they ministered together.

4. STAY IN YOUR MINISTRY UNTIL THE HS MAKES IT CLEAR THAT YOU SHOULD CHANGE 6-10 This section tells us as to the guidance into ministry, that it is often good to attempt some work for God and remain there—in the absence of any clear responsibility elsewhere—and permit the HS to hinder it if He desires too, until His mind for us becomes clear. We are not told how the HS forbid them to go to Asia just that He did. Sometimes God has other plans for our ministry. Since we are not omniscient, it may be that God will not permit a ministry to go on any further and open up other opportunities as a means of guiding us. As a basic principle the effort to evangelize and disciple those unevangelized and disciples is good and that is what they sought to do here. But when the HS has something else in mind he is able to make that clear to His servants. Here it was by means of a vision. So they went westward because of God’s sovereign guidance.

1) God seems to call us to specific tasks rather than to lifetime occupations. He did that in 13:2 and here in 16:6. The Spirit moves His messengers to a specific task.

2) When those tasks are finished, we must God will make that clear to us. Until then stay at it.

3) When these tasks are finished we must then be prepared for new calls, new tasks, new ministry God has for us in the kingdom of God.