Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Thanks for listening to episode 108 of Missions on Point. This is part of a series on contemporary issues and missions. It's the seventh of the series, and this topic is the church planting process. It's easy to ask why in the world would you start talking about the church planting process? Haven't missionaries been doing this for hundreds of years, if not say thousands of years, including Paul? And that is a legitimate concern. However, some of the contemporary issues and missions include things that muddy the waters, and make it unclear what exactly is the church planting process. It's not simply up to us to kind of reinvent that or make it new and different every generation. But before we launch into the church planning process, I just want to encourage you to ask questions or leave comments on your podcast app.

Let us know by contacting us through email at, I'm also interested in knowing what you think would be good future episodes. So if you have issues of concern that you would like me to address, please let me know through this email Back on track about the church planting process. The contemporary issues that we're dealing with often take a turn with regard to, we'll say, an orthodox or traditional understanding of planting a church. Often it is highly contextualized. This would even apply to church planting domestically in North America. There are a lot of concerns about business as missions and things related to that, where people are encouraged to practice their Christian faith individually in whatever business they're in. And it's great to be a Christian and witness as a Christian wherever you are in the world. Just doing Christian things is not church planting. Just doing mercy ministries or life-oriented development ministries like water resource development, or electricity, or economic development in general, or even rescue ministries by themselves are not church planting.

So if you have questions about this, you need to listen to the first four episodes of Missions on Point. And then pick it up again on episode 10 and 11. And think through what is the definition of missions and why it has to point toward indigenous church planting as the end goal. I'm going to lead by examining briefly three portions of scripture which have been dealt with somewhat in other episodes of missions on point. The first one is Matthew 28:18-20. It's the familiar passage of the Great Commission in Matthew. It says, "Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age."

It's my contention that this passage shows us that it cannot be fulfilled on an individual basis without planting an indigenous local church. Follow this thinking. You go and you make disciples. That includes evangelism. But it also includes the teaching and training of new converts to understand what it means to live their life in light of the gospel, to live as Christians. It also teaches about baptizing them, which is one of the two ordinances of the church, which are explained in greater detail in the epistles of the New Testament. So it means that this group of believers that presumably are mutually committed to one another and cross-generational of all ages, come together and they observe the ordinances of baptism in the Lord's Supper. It infers that there are leaders that lead them in this observation and in this gathering for corporate worship.

And it says that they are being taught to observe. That is to obey, or to learn, and put into practice all that I've commanded you. What is the all that I've commanded you? It's not just a simple list. It's not like the 10 Commandments. It basically unfolds through the pages of the New Testament about life together as believers with a watching world. It means taking all of those things that have been handed down by Christ through his apostles, and the writers of the New Testament, to understand what the will of God is, and to do it. That includes personal and corporate worship. It includes leadership, it includes equipping and training for the work of ministry. All of this takes place in a group of people committed to meet together weekly under the teaching of God's word for the glory of God.

The next passage is Acts 2:42. This is describing the very first church after the coming of the Holy Spirit earlier in Acts chapter two. It says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers." So this interaction, this highly relational commitment to one another and to the teaching of the apostles became a hallmark of what it means to be a church. Then skip forward to Acts 14:21-23, and listen to this progression. This is in the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas together, "When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples. Encouraging them to continue in the faith. And saying that through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed."

Now, this progression is preaching the gospel, making disciples, this mutual commitment of those disciples to gather together in assemblies of believers that meet regularly. That is the disciples they're talking about. And appointing biblically qualified elders for their leadership. That is the pastors, shepherds, leaders of the congregation for that particular indigenous gathering of believers. It is worthwhile to note that what the hearers of the original Great Commission did to obey the Great Commission mandate was to plant churches. That's what happened all through the Mediterranean world as Christians got ejected or moved out of Jerusalem, across the Palestine area. And then entering into other provinces, circling all the way across to Italy. Church tradition says that the apostles basically ended up scattering as far as India, and converts in Africa, and all across what came to be known as Europe. Let's talk about the church planting process.

First of all, you would assemble a church planting team. Typically, it is tailored to the location, the geography, the people that you're targeting for church planting, and be appropriate in skill, ministry experience, language and culture for the particular target. While diversity is important in a number of ways, it is extremely important to have unity and have clear leadership direction, preferably a plurality of leadership. In our situation, trying to plant churches in a tribal context requires a much smaller team. But those that are adapt at different kinds of living situations that match up with that tribal goal. A church planting team in a highly urban context with a large population, would probably want to have a larger starting team. The process itself starts with thinking through who are we reaching, how do we make contact with them, and how do we find opportunities to present the gospel to them, and let the gospel, and the Holy Spirit, and God's word do the heavy lifting with regard to bringing people to conviction, and repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ.

Evangelism doesn't bear fruit because we had some great strategy or methodology. Evangelism bears fruit because of God's work in people's lives in such a way that they come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And that normally takes place through the context of them hearing our testimonies of conversion and transformation, using God's Word, and by the Holy Spirit opening their hearts, quickening them, regenerating them so that they become Christians. From evangelism, we move to discipleship. And that is the simple teachings of how to live your life as a Christian. Talking about prayer, for instance. Christian prayers are not driven by rote memory of prayers handed down from one generation to the next of exactly what to say, and how to do it, and how to conform to body movements, or kneeling, or spinning a wheel or those kinds of things. It is much more relational with God, which is an unusual characteristic of Christianity compared to most all other religions in the world.

As disciples grow, you want to start giving them ministry things to do, serving one another, learning how to function as a body, also doing evangelism. Evangelism is the most basic foundational step which never stops and always keeps going, passed on from one generation of believers to the next generation, so that the entire church is always evangelizing, and then always discipling those who have trusted Christ. From the disciples, you see who God has moved, or touched, or especially equipped to serve on a higher leadership level. Perhaps in small groups, or leadership of particular ministries, or eventually to the place where they have the characteristics of first Timothy three, Titus one, kinds of characteristics of Godly character and leadership so that they are prepared to lead the church. And share in the leadership as the original church planting team begins to move away from leadership and bring to the fore those indigenous leaders who will carry on after them.

In our thinking, just pulling together a group of believers who commit to one another and agreeing together to be a church. Having recognized biblical leaders is the conclusion in one aspect of the church planning process, but it continues on to see that church have a similar kind of heart and vision to plant other like-minded churches that are likewise biblically qualified churches, having baptized believers, plurality of indigenous leadership, and continuing to take that to other areas, other neighborhoods, other communities, other cities, towns, until every ethnic nation has a church planted. Now every 10 years or so, there are new kinds of tools and resources that are used. We would encourage vernacular resources that is in the language of the people rather than resources from outside. The language of the people. Included in that just for the routine, things like regular corporate worship should be done singing songs in their own language. And if possible, composed by Christians from that language themselves. So they're singing hymns that were created by them, for them.

Having a congregation sing together in corporate worship mirrors the experience of New Testament believers in the first century. But it's also kind of unique in religions in the world. It's wise to develop a well understood process of developing leaders within the church so that as the church planting team kind of backs out of responsibilities and goes to plant another church, indigenous leaders that are there in the local church, have a good understanding and can also reproduce that process of developing leaders, so that the process continues. Evangelism always going on. Discipleship of believers going on. Producing of local leaders going on. And ongoing vision to continue to plant other churches all the time until the Lord returns.

Of course, there's a long list of other things that I haven't dealt with here that are primarily administrative and logistical. Things like having a place to meet, seeding, making sure that people have bibles that they can use in their personal life, as well as during corporate worship. Having people to welcome newcomers and visitors. Follow up, and recordkeeping, and offerings, which should be a normal part of worship in the church. Please encourage others to subscribe or follow missions on point. Also, let me know your ideas, comments, concerns by emailing Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Forever and ever. Amen.

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