Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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The Philosophy of Church Planting, Part 1

  • Jim Townsley
  • Nov 28, 2016
In Acts 1:8 the Bible states, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” A basic study of the Bible reveals that the church is under orders to go into all the world with the gospel. It is a direct command from our Lord and Savior. Every New Testament church has been commissioned to go. It is not something that the local church would have to vote on. It is a command that the local church must obey. Every member of the local New Testament church is to be a missionary who takes the gospel to a lost world. The proper way to understand church planting is to recognize that “churches plant churches.”
In Acts 1:8 the church was instructed as to where they were to witness. The church was to start in Jerusalem. This was where they lived and functioned on a daily basis. They were also told to go to Judea. Judea was the area that encompassed Jerusalem. It was made up of cities and towns that were close at hand such as Bethlehem, Jericho and Damascus.  Our Lord also included Samaria. Keep in mind that to reach Samaria, the church would have to reach out cross culturally to people who did not have the same ethnic background as they possessed.  They were also instructed to witness to the uttermost part of the earth.  
There are three key words found in Acts 1:8 that help us to better understand the Great Commission. It’s not always easy to serve the Lord, but it is impossible to serve Him without Holy Spirit power. Power is needed and there can be no lasting results without the power of God. Witness is also a key word in understanding this passage. A witness is one who bears witness with his life and is willing to die to get the message out. It certainly involves sacrifice. Then there is the little word both.  It was a simultaneous plan. Every area mentioned was to be evangelized at the same time. No area was to be excluded. Therefore, the main mission of the local New Testament church is missions and our mission field is the world. To quote James Weber, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” All of us will one day give an account before God concerning what we have done with the Great Commission. 
If the main mission of the local New Testament church is missions then there should be a twofold goal in mission work. The first goal of missions is evangelism. J. Herbert Kane said, “Missionary work that does not include evangelism is not missionary work at all.” We are to preach to reach individuals. Biblical preaching needs to be clear, plain and without compromise. The second goal of missions is planting churches. The reason church planting is vital to missions is that “baptize” is the second part of the Great Commission and baptism is a local church ordinance. The responsibility of baptizing the new convert has not been given to individuals but it has been given to the church. Our immediate objective of missions is to reach the lost and the ultimate objective or long range objective of missions is to plant churches. As indispensable as evangelism is to missions, it is incomplete without the formation of local churches. The church is the primary agent in God’s plan to reconcile mankind to Himself. In Acts 16:5 the Bible states, “And so were the churches established in the faith and increased in number daily.” Our part is to walk by faith and obey, trust and believe God. God’s part is to give the increase. Planting churches involves sowing seed and the seed is the Word of God. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1:23) The church planter must sow the seed of the Word of God but God will cause the seed to grow.  Paul stated “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”  - I Corinthians 3:6
Once a church has been established, the goal then is to see that church becomes indigenous. Webster defines indigenous as being native or natural (not foreign) to a country or an area. When a missionary goes to a foreign field to preach the gospel, establish churches and baptize the converts he does not try to westernize the people nor is his goal to Americanize the people. A church planter in the United States should not be trying to southernize the people. Our goal is to evangelize the people. When is a church indigenous? Three things have to take place.  First, the church must be self-governing. To accomplish this, the members of that local church are to be making the decisions based on the Word of God. Second, it must be self-supporting. The church to be indigenous, should not be receiving outside or external financing. The third thing that has to be done for a church to be indigenous is to determine that the church is going to be self-propagating. Plans need to be in place to eventually reproduce the church elsewhere. It is important to remember the church is more than an organization; it is a living organism. If an organism is healthy it will do two things. It ought to grow and eventually it ought to reproduce. It should be the goal of every church planter to build an indigenous church. It is the responsibility of every church to start churches. If you do not have a plan to start a church begin by praying over a needy area and ask God to help you get a church started in that area.