Monday, February 5, 2007

Why Church Planting? A Biblical Reason

Last week, I said that we'd be spending the next few weeks looking at the 5 reasons I gave for church planting. A good place to start is to see what the Bible has to say about it. The first reason that we want to become actively involved in church planting is because


I made the statement during the State of the Church Address that "church planting is part of the New Testament idea of what church is." In other words, the Bible expects that multiplication is a natural function of the church. We don't have time to go through every possible scripture, but I do want to look at several that support this audacious claim.

  • Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-25; Luke 8:4-18--The parable of the four soils is about spreading the message of Christ ("sowing the word" Mk. 4:14), which is represented by the seed the farmer spreads. In all four cases, the same seed is used, but differences are observed as a result of what kind of soil the seed falls in. Good soil produces a crop that multiplies thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times (Mk. 4:8). Often we look at this passage from an individual perspective, but it applies on a corporate level as well. What kind of soil are we as a church? If we are good soil, faithful recipients of the word, that will be demonstrated through bearing fruit on an exponential level--multiplication! No farmer plants seeds that will only produce their own replacements; farmers plant seeds that they expect will return a harvest much greater than what they invested in planting. God expects that same from us.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:6-9--Extending this metaphor of planting, Paul specifically refers to the church in this passage as a field. Different laborers have different tasks, such as planting and watering, and God's task is to make things grow. Elsewhere (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:4-16), Paul refers to the church as a "body." The church is always pictured in scripture as a living thing; a church that is dead is an abnormality and contrary to God's will (Revelation 3:1-2). One thing about all healthy, living things is that they were created to reproduce (Genesis 1:12, 22, 28)--it is inherent in their function, their DNA, their biology. The church, always pictured as a living thing, should have reproduction as a natural part of its life.
  • Acts 13:1-3--In my Address, I metioned that the whole book of Acts is essentially a manual for church planting, as it describes the activity of the church in its earliest days. I could pick pretty much any section from Acts, but I wanted to highlight this one, as it tells of when Saul and Barnabas were first sent out from their home church for the specific task of planting new churches. For a whole year Barnabas and Saul had been prominent leaders and teachers in that church (Acts 11:26), yet the other leaders felt God leading them to invest their all-stars in a broader mission for the kingdom, not simply to hold on to them, regardless of how valuable they were for that one church.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:15-16--Paul instructs the Corinthian church to grow in their faith "so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you." In other words, he's calling them to reach out to the surrounding towns and cities to prepare the way for Paul and his associates to come and plant more churches. The Corinthian church is clearly the most dysfunctional that Paul wrote to, yet his de facto assumption is that they will be actively involved in planting more churches.

When we look at what the Bible says about churches, it's clear that the assumption is that they will be actively involved in church planting. This is something that's supposed to be part of the life of the church. We've clearly gotten away from this in North America--so much so that for us to talk about this is actually a big deal--but according to the worldview of the Bible, it really shouldn't be. Perhaps that's one reason the church in North America is failing.

Next week, we'll take a closer look at a pragmatic reason for church planting--experience proves it!

1 comment:

Pastor Scott said...

I want to keep my blog to a reasonable length each week so that it's easy for people to digest in one sitting, but I also want to give those of you who make the effort to view this online a little extra--a "thank you" if you will. So from time to time, I'll post some additional thoughts and insights here. As always, I'm interested in anything you might have to say. Please feel free to post anytime.

In one of my books, A Biblical Church Planting Manual From The Book Of Acts by Marlin Mull, he identifies 12 biblical reasons for starting a new church from the book of Acts (all scripture references are from Acts):

1. A new church brings the Kingdom of God to earth (1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23; 28:31)
2. A new church helps fulfill the Great Commission (1:8)
3. A new church provides a place of prayer to meet God with others (1:14; 4:31; 12:5)
4. A new church provdes another public preaching place (9:20; 10:42;14:7; 16:10; 20:20)
5. A new church is the most effective evangelistic tool (2:38-39; 14:21)
6. A new church teaches the Bible (4:2; 5:19-21; 5:42; 8:4; 11:25-26; 18:11; 20:20; 28:31)
7. A new church offers another place for Christian service (6:3; 9:36; 11:25-26; 11:29-30; 17:15)
8. A new church trains lay leaders to become preachers (6:10; 14:23)
9. A new church crosses cultural barriers (8:35; 10:1-48; 16:9; 22:21)
10. A new church mentors new believers (9:26-28; 20:20; 20:27; 20:31; 20:34-36)
11. A new church supports worldwide missionary activity (13:2-3; 16:9-10)
12. A new church starts other churches (13:2-3; 16:9-10)

This is why I say the book of Acts is essentially a manual for church planting. You might want to read through it over the next week or two and specifically look for these 12 reasons, or others you might find, for planting new churches. Post your discoveries here and share with all of us!