Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Welcome to episode 204 of Missions on Point. Before we begin today, I just want to say thank you so much to Joel Hollins, my assistant, who has helped me in putting together the Propempo podcast for the last couple of months while I've been working on this great book project that you've heard about. We give God the glory for bringing the book project close to the end of its process of publication and hope to publish it within the next few weeks.

The title has changed a little bit. It's called Missions on Point: The Local Church At the Heart of Ecclesiology and Missiology. If you've been tracking with the podcast, you know that these two lines of theology intersect at a place that we call Missions on Point, where we talk about things of the church and things of missions that are related together because they're inextricable. We say that the local church is the beginning and the end of missions.

This new series that we're starting today is on church planting. Church planting is one of those really core topics that bridges both the local church domestically, in the home country, and the goal of missionary work in church planting in indigenous people groups in nations around the world. We will try to cover aspects of both, not in an academic way, but in a warm-hearted way, based primarily on my anecdotal experience in church planting, both in the United States and overseas and in consulting and helping church planting in various parts of the world. Let me give you an overview of the series. I am sure to get myself in trouble with some people listening because the things that I'm going to say are going to cut across the grain of a lot of popular thinking or lack of thinking about church planting.

The first one today we're going to talk about, church planting is a sign of a healthy church, and then we'll go to universal challenges in church planting, followed by an episode on universal issues to answer. The fourth in the series will be modern schemes of church planting. The fifth one will be near culture concerns as related to geography, planting a church near your church. The next one is near cross-cultural concerns, that is planting a church that may be near you geographically, but is in a different culture for one reason or another. We'll talk about those. The seventh in the series will be foreign culture concerns, and this is primarily cross-cultural missions we're talking about. And the last one is seeds of the future. I encourage you to listen. I think it will be informative and perhaps a little entertaining as we challenge your thinking and your heart about church planting. Let others know about this podcast so that they can listen too. And then continue to pray for us and support us financially so that we can continue doing this podcast and see the book published in days to come.

Now, church planting means different things to different people. Some people think of missions church planting as the construction of a physical meeting place for a national indigenous church somewhere, that's not church planting, that's chapel construction. Other people think of church planting is starting a brand new church. That's not always the case. Sometimes church planting is church revitalization or rejuvenation of an older church that's been in existence for a long time, maybe even for a century or more. Other types of church planting include hiving off or sending off a group of people to a new church plant identity, even though they may never leave their home or sell their home to move to another place, others may actually move and go as a group to plant a church in a totally new location.

So of course there's distinction between domestic and international church planting, and we'll talk about some of the differences even in that. We maintain that church planting is a sign of a healthy church. It is essential necessary, and a natural concept that a church should plant or reproduce itself in another church. Why should it be normal for a church to be involved in church planting? Well, it's normal to disciple and grow believers to be leaders. Ephesians chapter four talks about equipping the saints for the work of ministry, and that includes all the ministries of the church, including leadership and including the possibility of starting another church. 2 Timothy 2:2 is very clear about teaching others so that they will be able to teach others also. This is just part of the normal progression for a church to be involved in church planting.

It's normal to have somewhere nearby that doesn't have a good church easily accessible to its people. So you want to plant a church where people wouldn't maybe normally come to your church, but if you planted a church there, it would be accessible to them to go to a good gospel preaching Bible believing church. It's also normal for smaller numbers of people in a relational ministry to be more effective than a larger, more anonymous crowd. In other words, church plants tend to have more dynamic spiritual growth in their members than larger churches. Many books on church planting cite studies that show that church planting is the best means of evangelism. We'll look at a couple of quotes along that line in just a little bit.

I went to my library and pulled out the first 14 books that were most directly related to church planting. There are so many books about church planting and many of them are academic or theological in their nature. Others are completely narratives of a particular church plant experience. Others may advocate for church planting, but in the context of a different topic altogether. Some of the more modern books include promotion of a special type or unique manner of methodology or strategy for church planting that is accompanied by a lot of online resources. We will evaluate some of those in a future podcast.

So here's a glimpse of what I have. The first one is Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: A Guide for Home and Foreign Missions by David Hesselgrave. He says these kinds of things, "The biblical record leaves no room for thinking that either Paul or the members of his team were basically engaged in raising living standards, ameliorating social conditions, imparting secular knowledge, ministering to medical needs, or dispensing aid from previously established churches. Paul's primary mission was accomplished when the gospel was preached, men were converted and churches were established. Good works were the fruit, not the root of Paul's mission." He says, "Proportionately, too much emphasis has been placed upon multiplying converts, and not nearly enough emphasis has been placed on multiplying congregations." He says, "Is it not sad that since God cannot count on obedience and [inaudible 00:07:37] stewardship in this matter, he often has to use church splits and ad hoc means to get new congregations of believers started?" So he goes on through many pages describing the tools for church planting.

The second one is Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer, who's written probably a dozen books related to church planting and the ideals of church growth. He cites a survey of many mainline denominations saying, "All denominations surveyed place church planting as a very important, if not the number one strategy for evangelism." Another key text is J. D. Payne's Discovering Church Planting: An Introduction to the Whats, Whys, and Hows of Global Church Planting. He says this, "I note that churches should be in the ministry of church planting because of the biblical evidence, traditional evidence, demographic evidence, cultural evidence, denominational evidence, evangelistic evidence, religious evidence, and economic evidence." He cites C. Peter Wagner saying that C. Peter Wagner wrote that the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches. And J. D. Payne says, "While this statement is not always true, nevertheless, church planting has the potential to be a very effective evangelistic method."

He also quotes Robert Logan and Neil Cole. "Many say they plan to birth a new church, but few actually do it. Since it is the nature of the church to grow and multiply, then something needs to change from the inside out. Often the problem is in the genetic coding of the church." Craig Ott and Gene Wilson write a helpful book on Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication. They say, "Because the church itself is central to God's mission, church planting must be central to that mission. Though there is no explicit command in the Bible to go and plant churches, the biblical record leaves no mistake that church planting is essential to God's salvation purposes and the fulfillment of the great commission. For Christ to build his church, he must plant his church. Churches must be called into existence. Christ will build his universal church by planting and building local communities of believers."

Ed Stetzer writes this on Planting Missional Churches, "Planting a church that's biblically sound and reaching people in culture." And I love this great more modern text by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert called What is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission. J. D. Payne has this more recent text, a small one called Apostolic Church Planting: Birthing New Churches from New Believers. And this simple text on church planting called Planting Churches That Reproduce by Joel Comiskey. One of the deans of the Church Growth movement wrote this called Understanding Church Growth, Donald McGavran. And although it talks about lots of means of church growth in general, it does have a lot of bearing on church planting.

I love this little book by Mike McKinley called Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-Up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things. It's a really great 9Marks book on planting a revitalized church. Jonathan Leeman writes this very helpful book on church membership in the 9Marks series, but it's not just about membership. It really has bearing on church planting as well. And again, a Jonathan Leeman text called One Assembly: Rethinking the Multisite and Multiservice Church Models. 9Marks is a proponent of one service and a church that holds as many as it holds and then hiving off others to plant more churches. David Shenk and Ervin Stutzman write Creating Communities of the Kingdom: New Testament Models of Church Planting. And then this last one is a really older book, kind of a missions historical book called Church Multiplication Guide: The Miracle of Church Reproduction by Patterson and Scoggins.

Now, what I haven't mentioned are a whole bunch of new books using new strategies and methodologies, many of which I don't agree with because as will their biblical definitions get watered down in the mix, trying to be very pragmatic about what is the fastest possible way to reproduce believers to form what you might call a church. And we don't have time today to get into that, so we're going to look at this church planting topic and peel the layers of the onion back and take a look at what's inside and see how we can have a mindset that's oriented toward church planting both locally and globally. We know that there's lots of different kinds of church plants, sometimes very intentional, sometimes unintentional, sometimes an authorized church plant coming from a church or a group of churches or an unauthorized church plant.

There's brand new church plants with new people versus a church revitalization that starts with some kind of group of people and/or facility. There's same culture church plants, cross-cultural church plants, and then there's domestic and international. Those are not always the same as same culture and cross-cultural. Stay with me. Let's talk about church planting over the next few episodes. Thank you for being here.

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at and We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God, be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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