Such a post title may lead one to think that what follows is about becoming a dynamic church. Perhaps you thought I would offer an exciting program that would help your congregation become more attractive. Or suggest leadership strategies that would infuse the church with fresh energy. Or give prayer principles that would bring the reviving power of the Spirit. No, this article is not about becoming a dynamic church, but rather how the church is dynamic by nature. Rather than seeing the church as static and changing little, we should rather expect the church to be constantly changing and full of fruit and activity.
To be honest, I have recently been overwhelmed by changes in the church. Serving in a church plant where many new people are coming and relationships are forming. Sending one new pastor out and looking to bring another into this setting. People coming and going at the seminary making my head spin. Requests across the church for assistance in one way or another. Encouraging an underground seminary where the metrics are far greater than our own. Mission fields opening up near and far crying out for laborers. I told some folks recently that I am tempted to pull on the reins yet rather it feels instead like "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!"
Yet as the temple place here on earth where the Spirit of God dwells, the church should be the place where the Spirit's pulsating activity is evidenced. For Jesus told His disciples upon His ascension he would send His Spirit to the church and they would receive power (Acts 1:8 - the Greek word is δύναμις/dunamis from which we get the word dynamite). Rather than looking to be comfortable or trying to control what takes place in the church, God's people should live with the expectation that the church would be a place that has seasons of growth, abundant fruit, vital connections with other laborers, and expanding ministry opportunities. When these times come, with prayer for strength and wisdom we should throw ourselves into willing service before the Lord.
To remind myself of these things, I recently spent some time looking at one Bible character named Tychicus. By looking at references we have of Tychicus in the New Testament, a story emerges that verifies the dynamic nature of the church as people serve the kingdom of God.
Tychicus was from Asia (Acts 20:4), and since Ephesus is part of Asia he may have been from there. He was certainly familiar with Ephesus. He accompanied Paul on part of his third missionary journey, from Macedonia to Jerusalem, as one of a growing number of assistants and men in training for the ministry. We hear of this in Acts 20:4, as it says of Paul, “He was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.”
This means he was with Paul when he stopped and met with the Ephesian elders on the beach. Recall their emotional parting. “When Paul had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship” (Acts 20:27-28). Tychicus would have known the dear place this church held in the apostle’s heart. He would have also heard these words Paul told the elders: “For three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31).
With Paul as his model, we see that he reflected his pastoral heart and missionary spirit. For the next we hear of Tychicus is in Ephesians 6, which Paul wrote during his first imprisonment in Rome five years later. He wrote:
Now, so that you also may know about my circumstances as to what I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.” (Eph. 6:21-22)
At the same time, Paul wrote and sent the epistle to the Colossians by Tychicus' hand as well. He says similar words there about Tychicus, “As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts” (Colossians 4:7-8). Paul knew these congregations would be concerned about him, and so he sent Tychicus to comfort their hearts.
Tychicus had another important duty as well. Paul went on to say in Colossians about Tychicus that "with him is Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your own. They will inform you about the whole situation here" (Col. 4:9). Clearly, Onesimus, the runaway slave, was with Tychicus as he carried a third letter that Paul sent at this time to Philemon. Surely, Tychicus was delegated by Paul as a peacemaker between this master and his runaway slave, who undoubtedly brought alive the apostle's words: "For perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord“ (Philemon 15-16). As one commentator states, "Under (Tychicus’) shelter Onesimus would be safer than if he encountered Philemon alone" (Lightfoot, Commentary on Colossians, 314).
A few years later, Paul was released from prison in Rome and was traveling in additional ministry. He wrote to Titus and said, “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis” (Titus 4:2). So here again we see the trust Paul had in him. Like he said of Timothy, Tychicus was a man of kindred spirit. Paul, who was genuinely concerned for the welfare of the people in the congregations he had founded, would only send trusted men to them.
When Paul was again imprisoned and knew that soon his life would be taken, we hear one final word about Tychicus as Paul writes to Timothy. He says simply, “Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus” (2 Tim. 4:12). Tychicus is again sent to this church where Timothy was the pastor so, in turn, Timothy could travel to be with Paul at the end of his life. Here we have a minister who would travel whenever needed, step in for the regular minister at Ephesus, and maintain the love of the saints.
Looking at saints like Tychicus should remind us of important truths about the nature of the church.
- Truly the church is dynamic! The Lord moves people around for the sake of His kingdom. The church should not fear or resist change, but expect it.
- The Lord especially uses pastors to encourage His people! The Lord, the head of the church, who places each member in the body just as he desires, puts specific pastors in the church to strenghten and comfort us.
- We cannot do the work of the church alone! All the instances above regarding Tychicus show him traveling and working with others. I referenced the Lone Ranger above, but there are no lone rangers in the kingdom of God. Besides, even the "Lone" Ranger had Tonto!
- Offer yourself willingly when the Spirit is working! Sadly, periods can exist when the church does experience a lull. Yet, by faith, we should live expectantly on God's Spirit to work and even see ways He is working below the surface to affect the changes He will bring. When He begins to exhibit His dynamic power in your midst, be prepared at that time to offer yourself as a living sacrifice. This is the way of the kingdom!