ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) - Two mission leaders held different ideas about who had the potential to become a church planter. Finally, they went off in different directions. Sometimes, that still happens today, Steve Ballew said. Then, he noted that the two sides reconnected over time.
The story was ancient; its key players were Paul and Barnabas. State Mission Board Chairman Steve Ballew shared a devotional about the two early missionaries with the board during its regular meeting, Sept. 16. Later, he shared the same brief Bible study with a group of pastors and church planters who had gathered to discuss the future of BCNM church planting.
He specifically addressed Paul and Barnabas' disagreement about John Mark. According to Luke, the doctor and historian who traveled with Paul, he and Barnabas had a "sharp disagreement." Yet, their differences did not stop God's mission. Instead, those differences doubled their efforts.
They divided up the churches they intended to revisit, parted ways and launched two missionary journeys. Scripture only recounts Paul's journey because Luke traveled with him.
Paul and Barnabas had already completed one church planting trip into Asia Minor successfully. They intended to return and check on their church plants. "Let's go back and visit the brothers and sisters in every town where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they're doing," Paul had suggested (Acts 14:36). Barnabas agreed with the idea.
The two disagreed about who would be the best helper along the way. Ballew likened their disagreement to differing on who would be the best church planter to accompany them. They both wanted to choose a planter but had different criteria.
Differences can fade, though, Ballew said. Despite their split on the issue, Paul and Mark overcame the dispute. Ballew noted that roughly ten years later, Paul called Mark his "fellow worker" (Philemon 1:24). In his letter to the saints at Colossae, Paul mentioned that Mark was present with him and encouraged the Colossians to welcome him if he came to them (Colossians 4:7).
Ultimately, when only Luke remained with him, Paul urged Timothy to come quickly and to bring Mark with him. "For he is useful to me in the ministry," Paul said (2 Timothy 4:11). "Sometimes, mission teams must disagree. And, that is okay - as long as they both follow Jesus," Ballew observed. "Jesus will work out the results."
Ballew shared the devotional after having participated in multiple discussions between North American Mission Board and Baptist Convention of New Mexico representatives about the future of church planting in the state. Those NAMB and BCNM discussions influenced the 2020 BCNM Proposed Budget.