Here’s a link to a simple, free, online cost/benefit analysis calculator… just for fun! How do you make decisions when it comes to things like your time, money, and energy? Running a cost/benefit analysis or a return on investment projection is the way of the world. Will we get more out of this than we’ve put in? Or at the very least, we we break even?
Yet we can’t exactly apply the principles of wise business to all personal choices or matters of ministry. So what other factors do you weigh as an individual when making major decisions in life?
What uncontrollable variables are you willing to risk while still moving forward?
Which factors should a church consider when setting direction?
Read Acts 13:1-3 and look at the early church of Antioch in Syria. How did this fledgling church approach decision making?
Are there practices here for us to imitate? Have you ever fasted...specifically food…. as you’ve entreated God for direction? What is the significance of fasting in this passage (note the 2 different functions of it between v2 and v3). Do you see any room in your cost/benefit analysis for not just prayer, but fasting as well?
Look at Acts 13:4-5. They were told to go, and they were told where to go. Pastor Jeremy said that this wasn’t random but that Barnabas was actually from this area. How would you feel about the Holy Spirit setting you aside to be a missionary to your own people in your hometown?
When making decisions about your future, how do you consider the presence of overt opposition? V6-8 is the description of the opposition the missionaries faced. If you were in the missionaries place, would you consider this as sign that you’re going in the wrong direction? In a relationship where you’ve been ministering to someone, how do you discern when to cut your losses and regroup? As a church, how much trial is too much? At what point would we consider the cost too great to continue in the direction we initially were called in (both individually and corporately)?
The account finishes with Paul making a powerful public stand, yet this isn’t always the case in his ministry. Next week we’ll see him be stoned and left for dead for sharing this same message with others. And even though John-Mark deserted the team, Paul and Barnabas continue on, undeterred by these experiences. What do you think made the difference between the reactions of Paul and Barnabas as opposed to John-Mark. Who do you feel you most naturally identify with? Why? Is there a specific experience behind your answer?
Look at the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 13:44. The discovery of the treasure changed everything for this man. 15 minutes before finding it, he would never have considered selling everything he had to buy that field. Viewed one way, the cost was exceedingly high for the man. Viewed another way though it was kind of a no-brainer because of what he obtained in the end.
What is the the thing that would bring you to the point of selling everything to acquire it? (Sunday school answer right?) But functionally, what would this kind of exchange look like in your life right now? What have you hung on to that you should get rid of? (Comfort, pride, safe relationships, your Spotify subscription perhaps?)
Remember, Jesus laid it out for the rich young man in Mark 13 and this guy walked away because the cost was too great for him.
How can we spur each other on when the comforts of this world draw us away from the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus? How can you walk this journey together as a person, couple, life group, and as a church? And what hope is there for us when we fail?