The work of the Apostle Paul and his team in Ephesus shows that the gospel can transform whole regions, reproducing disciples and churches. The EFCA is contributing to Acts 19 movements worldwide in many ways.
Specifically gleaning from the account in Acts 19, we've gathered several insights into the Apostle Paul's church multiplication strategy in cities.
1. A strong but mobile church planting team.
Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla do the ground work (Acts 18:24-26). Paul joins the team. Timothy and Erastus were also there for some time. The team is not stagnant. They move in and out.
2. A creative platform in an urban center of influence.
In Ephesus they work with Greeks and Jews, religious people and sorcerers. They penetrate diverse circles and networks with the gospel. In this center Paul found a creative platform, an easy access place, where people could be reached. The Western text says Paul used this well-known lectur room from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (FF Bruce, Acts, p. 88).
3. Intentional, sustained evangelism and disciplemaking.
Apollos and the 12 were seekers who had received John's baptism. FF Bruce thinks they may have been part of the Ephesus synagogue and have helped to launch the movement. As Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos more completely, he was able to teach others. They also reached others in the synagogue. As a result of the strong discipleship, there was a good critical mass of disciples.
4. Lay missionaries are trained and deployed.
In Acts 20, Paul recounts his modeling of ministry (Acts 20:18-19), his preaching and teaching ministry (20:20-21), and mentoring of workers (20:31). Epaphras works in neighboring Colossa, Laodicea, and Hieropolis (Col. 4:12-13). Apollos is sent to Corinth. Aquila and Priscilla stay when Paul, Timothy and Erastus move on. Tichicus, another co-worker, is possibly from Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:12).
5. Other churches launched from Ephesus.
First Corinthians is written from Ephesus during this period (1 Cor. 15:32, 16:19). A cluster of churches is already established in Asia (1 Cor. 16:19) and Hierapolis, Colossae, Laodicea, and probably all the churches of Revelation 2-3 are located with Ephesus in the Lychus Valley. Miletus and Toas (Acts 20:6-12, 13-38) are probably daughter churches of the Ephesus work because God did not allow Paul to remain in Toas when he passed through earlier (Acts 16:8). Commentators believe the Revelation list is representative of a much broader movement.
6. Special work of the Holy Spirit.
Paul himself acknowledges that this was a special opportunity and work of God. The opposition attests to the fact that a spriitual advance was taking place. We dare not look at strategic factors to the exclusion of vital spiritual dynamics and special movement-sized faith.
7. Community Transformation.
Breadth of impact: After two years all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia had heard to the Word of the Lord (19:10, 17). Also in verse 20, we read, "in this way the Word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power."
Depth of impact: People healed and evil spirits cast out (19:11). All were seized with fear and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was held in high honor. There was public confession of sin (19:18) and true public repentance of sorcerers (19:19). This community transformation caused a strong reaction and opposition. Note that Paul had friends among province officials so the gospel touched different strata of society (19:31).