Church Planting is the Result of Effective Evangelism
I'll say it again.
Church Planting is the Result of Effective Evangelism
Evangelism, sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ, is the key ingredient in planting a new church location that will grow through ongoing discipleship efforts.
When an individual or existing congregation begins to intentionally target a geographic area with the message of the Gospel, they will have set in motion the same dynamic that was experienced by the first century church. People's lives will be transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit and there will be a need for ongoing Bible study, teaching and encouragement among the new believers. An organizational structure will need to come into being for the benefit of the new believers and the surrounding community.
Many church planting models that exist today include taking members from an existing congregation and transferring them to a new location to plant another church. While this has proven successful, it is not always practical or desirable. Many times the existing culture of a church is not transferable to another community. For example, if a suburban church tries to plant a church in the inner city of a major metropolitan area by sending some of it's existing members, with their existing suburban value system, they will probably fail. For the most part, the people in the inner city live in a different reality to what is experienced in the suburbs. There will be distrust and even resentment because of perceived class differences, which will in turn hinder an open discussion of the Gospel.
One Of The Greatest Church Planters Of All Time
One of the greatest church planters of all time was the Apostle Paul. Over the years of ministry that Paul engaged in, he reached many different communities and cultures with the Gospel and planted many growing churches that changed entire cities. Let's consider how he went about "church planting." What was his mindset in approaching a new community?
"I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more," ------------- 1 Corinthians 9:19
Paul goes on to state that "to the Jew, he became as a Jew", "to those who are under the law, as under the law", "to those without law, as without law" and "to the weak, as weak" so that, "I by all means might save some." 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
The Apostle Paul also makes it clear in this passage that he has remained true to the Word of God, presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ accurately and calling communities to repentance, surrender and relationship to God. Paul was often beaten and imprisoned because of the message that he preached. What does this mean to us as we try to plant churches in new communities or unreached areas today?
We must be true to the message of the Gospel and at the same time, seek to become a servant to the community that we are trying to reach.
This task can be like walking a tightrope and a great challenge.
Paul's example shows us that we must speak in the language of the community in order to be understood. Unfortunately, over the past few years, I have watched as some church planters have endeavored to "be relevant" to the community by softening or "watering down" the message of the Gospel. They have indeed blended in with the community, become a positive influence and motivator, but have abandoned the core teaching of Christianity, repentance and surrender to God, for what amounts to motivational speaking. The result has been churches that are growing numerically, but are not truly making disciples of Jesus Christ. Eventually, I believe these churches will hit a plateau or begin to decline when they are no longer able to keep up with the latest technology or cease to be able to "scratch the itching ears" of their members.
Let us further break Paul's mindset into two parts.
Become a Servant To The Community
We must first assess the culture of the community that we are trying to reach. How can we find out the mindset of the community?
We must talk to them.
Visit the Civic Association meetings in the community you are trying to reach. Do a door to door survey to get a feel for the neighborhood. Seek out and meet community leaders. Ask them what they perceive as the biggest need in their community. Only then can you formulate a plan or strategy for building relationships and entering into conversations that lead to opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A note of caution at this point:
This entire process must be covered in prayer. Only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will you be effective in what God has called you to do. Sometimes I mistakenly take for granted that people understand this principle. The Scriptures tell us, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 You can and should study methods and plans, but please don't forget that your plans may not necessarily be God's plans. Bathe everything in prayer and let the Holy Spirit guide you.
Remain True To God's Word
Study the Word. Be sure that you are presenting the truth. In order to be effective at leading people to Jesus and church planting, you must put aside your own ego and pride. What usually causes a "watering down" of the message is the fear of being rejected. You must point people to Jesus AT ALL COSTS!
The Apostle Paul sacrificed much in his endeavor to win souls for the Kingdom. His reward was two-fold, eternal in heaven and immediate in the faces of those whose lives were transformed through the Gospel that he preached.
The success of Paul's efforts and methods are felt even today. You and I may have never heard the message of Jesus Christ if it had not been for the faithfulness and consistency of men like Paul.
Never lose sight of the core message that you have been sent to preach. If you lead people to Jesus, then there is a reason to establish an organizational structure that we call "church." If there are no new converts, there is no need for an organization. In reality, there is no one to be part of the organization if no one accepts Jesus as their Savior.
One More Important Thought
When you go into a new community or unreached area, expect that God will save souls and transform lives. Have a plan for continued Discipleship in place before you begin the process of Evangelism or church planting. What will you do with those who accept Jesus? How will you help them to learn to follow Him?
In Acts Chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, when Peter shared the Gospel, about 3,000 people accepted Jesus as their Savior. We all rejoice over this fact, but consider the verses that follow.
"They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." Acts 2:42
"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:46-47
Church planting is a simple process of telling people about Jesus and taking the time to help them follow Him. As Pastors, Evangelists, Teachers, etc. it is also our responsibility and privilege to help train them to go out and do the same for others.
Please take the time to explore the rest of this website for ideas on how to reach into your community. Over the next few months, I will be adding many pages of resources and ideas that will be helpful to your ministry efforts.
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