Reporting Back to Antioch

Paul's First Missionary Journey

Following the preaching trip that took them through such places as Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch. Luke wrote, “When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).

It is important to notice what happened here, particularly today as churches may support preachers who work in other locations. The church in Antioch “sent” Paul and Barnabas on this trip to preach the gospel in various places (Acts 13:3). That sending does not imply a command for them to go – that was given by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2, 4). Instead, the implication is that the church supported (financially) these men in their work.

When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, they did not just meet with the elders of the church or with a few other individuals. The account of their work did not take place during a common meal or other casual setting. Rather, they “gathered the church together.” This shows us that it is perfectly acceptable for a congregation to invite a preacher to come and give a report on the work that they helped to support. More than this, we can be reminded of the benefits of such reports.

Benefits of Preaching Reports

Preachers are kept accountable – Paul wrote, “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). He also told Timothy, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). A preacher’s worthiness of support is not based upon the size of his family, the congregation’s familiarity with him, or any similar reason. A preacher is to be judged worthy of support based upon the work that he does in preaching the gospel. Reports such as the one given by Paul and Barnabas keep preachers accountable, ensuring that they are “worthy of [their] wages.

The congregation understands the work being done – Again, Paul and Barnabas did not report back to the elders, keeping the congregation out of the discussion. They “gathered the church together” so they could all be apprised on the work that was done. John said that by supporting those who go out and preach the gospel, we are “fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 8). By supporting a preacher, a congregation participates in that preacher’s work. It is good for the members of the congregation to know who they are supporting and why.

It helps the congregation make decisions about future support – Congregations do not have an unlimited amount of funds to use to help promote the gospel. While the Scriptures prohibit them from supporting false teachers (2 John 9-11; Ephesians 5:11), finances prevent them from supporting all of the truth teachers they would like to support. Choices have to be made. Learning of the work that a preacher does with the congregation’s support helps the church to make a wise decision about any future support that preacher may need.

Conclusion

The importance of preaching, preachers, and their support is summarized in Paul’s words to the Romans:

For ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things’” (Romans 10:13-15).

Those who preach the gospel can and should receive support for their work (1 Corinthians 9:7, 14). A congregation has fellowship with the preachers that they support (3 John 8). Reports relating to the work are important to keep the preacher accountable, to keep the congregation informed of what they are helping to accomplish, and to equip the brethren with the insight necessary to make wise decisions about a preachers’ support moving forward.


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