The call to plant
December 7, 2009
Let me preface everything I am about to say with this firm conviction: The Local church is the only hope this world has! The church is not a human invention or a manmade organization created to oppress and control the people of the world. It is a divine, God ordained, Christ commissioned organism, designed to be extension of the work of Jesus Christ, offering salvation, wholeness, healing and transformation to a sin-sick world. It is the only hope humanity has of finding forgiveness and proper standing before a holy and righteous God. Without the church, the world has no hope. If you don’t believe that, then there is no use in planting any churches. Close shop, go home and forget you ever considered planting a church in the first place. I can hear a few of you saying, "No, without Jesus, there is no hope." True, but the church has been called ot be Jesus' hands and feet. The Church, His bride, has been called to do "even greater things" than he did. The Church, lives because God called it into existence and ordained it to be His representative. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, a dichotomy does not, or at least should not exist between Jesus and His Bride.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus shared the importance of evangelism as a driving force in the church. The Great Commission in Matt. 28:19 was his call to the church to participate in the practice of evangelism: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Just before his ascension, Jesus reiterated these words: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In my opinion, the Great Commission was understood as a call to start new communities of believers wherever the Disciples traveled.
Any serious reader of the Bible will quickly come to understand that God’s nature is at the root of mission. The living God portrayed in the Bible is a sending God. He sends because of his love for the world. The Church is called to be the living expression of the kingdom of God on this earth and to express the love of God by fulfilling the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18.
However, the Great Commission given by Jesus in the New Testament is not a new calling to God’s people. This commission, given by Jesus, is built upon the call to Abram found in Genesis:
"Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will provide for you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on the earth will be blessed through you." (Gen. 12:1-3)
This call to Abram shows God’s desire for Israel to become a movement that would touch the entire world. God's call to Abram was not a call to become a regional, stagnate, inward focused tribe. God’s design in this calling was to push the future nation of Israel to think beyond socioeconomic and ethnic borders. God’s desire was to bless the world through Abram. Abram’s obedience to God, then, would be the beginning of the people called Israelites and, ultimately, today’s Christian. Clearly, God’s intention, from the call of Abram, was to create a people group that would reach out to every nation. They were to be God's Blessing to an entire universe! So, Genesis 12:1-6 stands as the foundation upon which the Great Commission rests.
According to the New Testament, Israel is no longer those who were, by blood, considered to be of Abram’s linage. Rather, the true Israelite is understood as he or she who receives adoption into the family, through the blood of Jesus. paul stated it best in Romans 9:8 “It is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” Clearly Paul knew thast those who are the followers of Jesus Christ and part of his Church, are now called the “children” of Abraham. This classification becomes significant, as followers understand that the Great Commission is a reaffirmation of the original call given to Abraham. The Church, like Israel, is not to become a stand-alone organization, rather a life-giving organism that can influence the world.
Church-planting is not new to denominational bodies. It was and is the lifeblood mission of the church from the very beginning. Church planting is the “intentional pursuit of lost people” that flows out of the Great Commission. God’s original call to be a blessing to the world is alive in the Great Commission. My firm conviction is that this calling was a call to spread the kingdom of God primarily through the means of planting new churches. As the church involves itself in this work, it is fulfilling the original call, given to Abram, to be a blessing to the nations. ∫Many New Testament Scriptures can be used to show the importance of church-planting. The book of Acts offers the reader a unique opportunity to witness the actions of the early Church in response to the Great Commission. Acts becomes an important dynamic because it best illustrates the early believer’s behavior after Jesus commissioned them.
In essence, the book of Acts becomes the history of a church-planting movement. Although the phrase “church-planting” is not explicitly mentioned in Acts, I believe it is implicitly understood as a “normal expression of New Testament Missiology”. Church-planting was, without question, at the center of early Church activity. It was a primary means of spreading and establishing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
12/27/2010 6:38:00 AM | George Fowler
Thanks for your work on these pages. I am retired, and His voice said: "Build me a church" No, he didn't add: "and they will come!" I asked "Lord, do you know who you are talking to? I am not an Apostle, nor a Prophet, nor a Preacher, nor an Evangelist nor a Teacher." He said again: "Build me a church" (omitting some details) I have no resources from established congregations. (yet) I have a coach/mentor who built his congregation by starving a lot. He was the one who put the idea in my head to plant a church, then walk away. It is just I. Maybe this wonderful founders team will just appear when needed. But I am the one to write the mission statement, publish the newsletter, speak of the vision. So as this little chip is launched, I'll certainly be stopping by here.