Paul’s missional pastoral theology is on display in Acts 20 and, after reading this text, I’ll propose a few ideas about missional.
20:25 “And now I know that none of you among whom I went around proclaiming the kingdom will see me again. 20:26 Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. 20:27 For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God. 20:28 Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 20:29 I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 20:30 Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them. 20:31 Therefore be alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears. 20:32 And now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace. This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 20:33 I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. 20:34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me. 20:35 By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
20:36 When he had said these things, he knelt down with them all and prayed. 20:37 They all began to weep loudly, and hugged Paul and kissed him, 20:38 especially saddened by what he had said, that they were not going to see him again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
1. It is noteworthy that Paul sees his preaching as “kingdom of God” preaching — the exercise we need to do is to run through Paul’s sermons and missional work in Acts and see all of that as kingdom of God activity, which lands us back once again on important idea. For Paul, kingdom of God can’t be broadened simply to good deeds and active work in a community but always involves what God is doing, what God is doing in Jesus, what God is doing in Jesus through the Church in its preaching and embodying the gospel.
2. Paul has no regrets about what he has done — a sign of powerfully clean conscience.
3. Missional work involves establishing leaders and exhorting them to faithfulness.
4. Missional work involves an eye for theological divergences and for moral corruption.
5. Missional work involves entrusting the people of God to God and not thinking one has to control it all — faithful and passionate work and care, yes, but not control.
6. Missional work, for Paul, involved also working with his own hands to provide for himself.
7. Missional work involves caring for the poor and weak and giving to them.
8. Missional work will tie people to one another and create painful partings.