The ACTS Model of Ministry Training: Acts 18:18-22
“18) Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow. 19) They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20) When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, 21) but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus. 22) When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch.” Acts‬ ‭18‬:‭18‬-‭22‬ ‭
Paul did not leave Corinth immediately. He stayed many days longer after the episode with Gallio. When he departed, Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him. This was consistent with Paul’s practice of mentoring people by bringing them on short term ministry trips.
By this point, Priscilla and Aquila had spent around a year and six months with Paul. (Vs 11) He was raising them up for leadership. We could call this the ACTS model… “Actual Christian Training by Service.” Both Jesus and Paul discipled people and raised up leaders on the front lines of doing ministry.
We do a disservice to people by pulling them out of ministry for three to seven years and sending them off to the sterile environment of a Bible College or Seminary. I started pastoring a small church my second year of Bible college. My classes were transformed from academic exercises to survival training. I was suddenly desperate to listen, learn and had many urgent questions. I also quickly discovered that much of the formal content was answering questions no one was asking. I became a magnet for practical theology.
Such was the case with the twelve disciples of Jesus and every person that accompanied Paul in ministry. They were equipped and trained on the front lines of doing ministry. They lived and walked in the daily shoes of the people they were called to shepherd.
They also became very Holy Spirit dependent. The Holy Spirit was not a category of theology to be analyzed and studied. He was their helper, teacher, guide, healer and source of wisdom and power. They learned to walk and minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Take a moment and study 1 Corinthians 2:1 -3:15)
I applaud denominations and non affiliated churches that are practicing accredited Bible training in a local church setting. This is model is not only cost effective, it is biblical and practical.
It is the model often used on the mission field to train pastors and Christian leaders. Its success is amazing. It is turning out very knowledgeable, gifted and mature leaders. The drop out rate is greatly minimized. There is usually no debt load on the new leaders. But most important, spiritual gifts are discovered, the call into ministry is confirmed by the local church and the transition into full time service in very natural. They also learn church organization, administration and practical people skills.
If you sense a call into ministry, I would encourage you to seek out a local church that offers a Bible training program and then get active in the overall church ministry. The Open Bible Church we attend in Clear Lake, Iowa has a wonderful program. More and more of these kinds of programs are springing up around the country.
Also, go on several short term mission trips and volunteer for multiple opportunities of local Christian service. I learned to preach and teach while in high school leading Bible studies for youth and preaching in nursing homes. Soon I received invitations to minister around the area in multiple churches. Jesus lit a fire under me, momentum built and I was launched.
I made plenty of mistakes and was shortly pointed toward a formal Bible College. Even in Bible College, I organized numerous evangelistic events, did street ministry in Chicago and helped a small church revitalize. Spring break was an opportunity for beach ministry in Florida or to form a touring evangelistic team. I had trouble sitting still. Soon doors opened for preaching at rescue missions, summer Bible camps and prison ministry. Many came to Jesus and God continued to mold and direct me.
I share bits of my story to encourage you to step up and get active. It’s hard to steer a parked car. Put it in gear, start moving and let God lead you. I believe the book of Acts is a picture of normal Christian living. This book inspires me. I trust God is using it to light a fire in you as well. Don’t waste your life!
Jesus called you with a purpose. He wants to engage you in daily fellowship with Himself. In the process, He wants to heal your inner wounds, set you free from sin and bondage, and make you very fruitful for His glory. (See John 15:1-16) Pursue Him!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global