A hot topic among Christians today is the idea of church planting. There is a huge need for church planting but more importantly there is a huge need for church planting done the right way. People have many methods and ideas about church planting and while people’s ideas are good they are not the best method for planting a church. God has given us the best method of church planting in His Word, the Holy Bible. I want to take a look at the timeless method that God gives us in His Word on how to plant and grow healthy churches not matter where you find yourself in this big world of ours.
- Christians are commissioned to go and make new disciples of Jesus Christ which will lead to new church plants. To the shock of many, we as believers were never told to go and plant churches. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to make disciples before dying on the cross and after Jesus Christ died and rose again He came to His disciples and told them the following statement, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). In order to go and make disciples one must be a disciple first. We do not have a specific time-frame on the time it takes for a person to be a reproducing disciple. It seems that people will be disciples until the end of the age and that they will make disciples until the end of the age. In other words, it is an on-going process. It took Jesus Christ about 3 ½ years to get His disciples ready to be sent out on His mission for them, yet He remained with them and they were His disciples until their deaths. A disciple is one who studies/learns from another, often living day to day life with that person, learning how to act and think like his teacher. Jesus Christ tells us who His disciples are and what they do when He says, “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;” (John 8:31). A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who believes (trust, obeys, and follows) Him. A true disciple of Jesus Christ also remains (abides/dwells/lives) in the Word of God. So Christians are to be disciples and make disciples according to the process that Jesus Christ has placed in the Bible, that is teaching people to obey all that He has commanded (His commands are found in the Bible).
- The original disciples of Jesus Christ followed the same method that He gave to them. The disciples did not add to or take away from the methods that Jesus Christ used in making disciples. Jesus Christ used natural gatherings (Jewish) holidays as a way of preaching the Gospel and calling people to repentance and faith in Him as well as admonishing them to a life of discipleship by following Him. On the day of Pentecost, a great Jewish celebration, the promised Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they began to preach the Gospel to the people gathered in Jerusalem. The Bible says that the disciples “were proclaiming the mighty deeds of God” in the native language of all of the people (17 different languages) present in Jerusalem. The people did not understand what was happening so the Apostle Peter stood up and preached the Gospel to all who were listening. He used quotes from the Old Testament and linked them together with a little explanation, allowing the Word of God to have Its effect in the hearts of the hearers. Peter preached on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, leading the people to make a decision. The hearers were pierced to the heart and they wanted to know what to do. Peter led them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Some 3,000 people accepted Jesus Christ that day and then the process of discipleship began immediately.
- The church was planted through the process of making disciples of Jesus Christ through the Word of God. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles we find what happened immediately after the people repented, accepted Jesus Christ, and were baptized into the faith. “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:41-42) The Apostles were busy teaching the Word of God to the people who repented, creating an atmosphere of discipleship at the very foundation of the first church. The disciples were carrying out Jesus Christ’s great commission by teaching all that He had commanded them. We do not see a time-frame here but the Apostle Paul gives us an idea when he plants a church in Asia using the method of discipleship as the foundation of the church. “And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:8-10) We see that Paul taught them daily for a period of two years and as a result the Gospel spread. The disciples began to go out an proclaim the Gospel making more disciples and seeing new churches form.
The process of church planting is very simple. As people we tend to complicate it by thinking that we know more than God does and inventing our own new methods and ways. When we stray from the original pattern then the results will not be as God intended and the fault lies with those who abandon God’s plan. Let us be wise and submit ourselves to God’s method of church planting and be amazed at the results that will come about. May God bless you as you continue to serve Him faithfully by carrying out the Great Commission that Jesus Christ has given to us all.