Paul’s three missionary journeys highlight his developing church planting approaches –
(1) Following relational streams: Paul and Barnabas first traveled to Cyprus, crossing Barnabas’ home island proclaiming the gospel. At Paphos the proconsul, Sergius Paulus , became a believer – ‘for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord’. A tablet inscription with the name Sergius Paulus has been found at Pisidian Antioch – now in the Konya (biblical Iconium) museum; where his family was prominent. In traveling from Cyprus to Perga and on to Pisidian Antioch, Paul was following the relational stream of a prominent ‘person of peace’. (Acts 13:1-14:28; compare Matt 28:18-20 and Luke 10:1-24)
(2) Planting in relational streams: Paul was called to Macedonia – northern Greece today, and beginning in Philippi he identified ‘persons of peace’ and made disciples in household after household (oikos) from the north to south of Greece. The household of Lydia became a church – as also that of the jailer; then that of Jason in Thessalonica – and numerous households in Corinth. On this journey Paul gathered new believers in their households and left key people to cultivate these networks of believers – Luke in Philippi, Timothy and Silas in Berea. (Acts 16:11-18:22)
(3) Creating church planting hubs: Paul prepared for his third journey – and next level of church planting, by taking Aquila and Priscilla from Corinth to Ephesus at the end of his second journey. (Acts 18:18-28) After visiting Antioch – the home base of his missionary journeys, Paul returned for an extended stay in Ephesus. He cultivated a hub of church planting. He first challenged believers to a fresh relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and following three months sharing in the Jewish synagogue the nature of ‘the kingdom of God’, he took ‘the disciples’ and held daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus – making disciples and clearly equipping church planters to reach right across the province of Asia. After two years of daily equipping – all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord’. (Acts 19:1-10) This was Paul at his most productive for the kingdom of God!