Why Church Planting
What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word missionary? For many people, they think of someone that is running an orphanage or digging wells. They think of a doctor or a nurse, a missionary pilot, or an English teacher. Sadly, many people have an incorrect understanding of what a missionary is and should be.
In his book, Planting Churches Cross-Culturally, David Hesselgrave shares a study done in 1967 at a youth missionary conference with over 5,000 attendees. The survey’s goal was to see what the delegates thought about what should be the work of a missionary. First, when the delegates were polled as to what they regarded as the primary missionary occupation, “personal evangelists” rather than “church planters and developers” was the number one choice. In fact, many delegates selected “technicians and engineers” as most important. Second, in answer to the question, “If you were going to be a missionary, in which field would you most like to serve?” about five times as many delegates chose to be in education as chose to be in church planting and development. Although this is an old study, I believe it shows us that most Christians do not understand what a missionary’s primary work should be. I also think that if anything, there are fewer people in 2020 that would say that church planting is the most important job of a missionary.
I want to share why I am a church planting missionary and why it is the most important thing you can do on the mission field.
It is the plan of God
The Bible says in Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. We can see here that God makes it very clear that he will build and use his church. For a long time, God was using the nation of Isreal to share his power and glory with the world. He was using the people of Isreal to help others hear about Him. However, in the New Testament, we can see that God has set aside the nation of Isreal for a time and is using the church to reach others with the Gospel.
God has given us the command to take the Gospel to the world. The question is, “How does that look practically?” The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18 says, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: We must go, teach, and baptize. Where do you think we should teach and baptized. I believe the answer is pretty straightforward. In a local church.
God has chosen to use the church to get the Gospel to others, so as missionaries, we should not just be going to other countries to help the poor and needy but should be thinking of how we can start churches so that the church of our God can continue to grow and reach others with the Gospel.
It is the example we see in the Bible
Not only is church planting the plan of God to reach the world, but also it is the example that we see in the Bible. The first people to accept Christ in large numbers were the people in Jerusalem, and the Bible says that they were added to a church. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:47 The Bible also talks about the church in Jerusalem in Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
So we can see an example of a church being formed in Jerusalem after people accepted Christ, but this example is not limited to Jerusalem. We can see in the Bible that churches were formed in every city with believers. In the epistles, we can see that Paul was writing to the church in a city. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 1 Corinthians 1:2 We can see that when people were saved in other cities, churches were formed. We can see that when Christians went to other towns and villages, they were not just there to give out food and help others. They were starting churches.
The best example of this is Paul. He gives us an excellent example of what a missionary should do. He went to other cities to preach the Gospel and start churches. In almost every city that Paul went to, he left a church behind. I am sure that he helped others physically any way he could, but it is pretty evident that his focus was starting churches. The book of Acts talks about him going to different cities to start churches. It also talks about him going back and establishing leaders in the churches that he had started. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23) In the epistles, we can also see that Paul is writing to the churches that he had starting and helping them understand who they should appoint as deacons and leaders in the church. He was a missionary that started churches.
Church planting is the most effective way to reach people with the Gospel
We can see the church planting is God’s plan, and he has given us an example through Paul of what we should do. However, people will say that you can reach people better through other ministries like digging wells, starting orphanages, or teaching English. These are all good things to do, and I believe that in some cases, there is a need for someone who will help in different roles on the mission field, but I believe that a majority of missionaries should be working at starting churches. Because without churches, none of the other mission work matters. You can dig a well for a village and share the Gospel with them, but after you leave, what are those people that accepted Christ going to do? They don’t have anyone to teach them. They don’t have a church to attend. They don’t know then need to be baptized, let alone how to be baptized. They are not able to grow without a church and someone to teach them.
You might get larger crowds with other ministries, but you will not see lasting results without a church. A church is necessary to disciple and teach others. Many times we are focused on going and forget about the teaching. To help others grow in Christ, they need a local church, and via a local church, we can teach them to reach their friends and family as well. In this way, we will be able to reach more people with the Gospel.