The familiar words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8 define our present task: “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.”
For nearly two thousand years, the return of Christ has been mercifully delayed. There have been many great churches and missionary movements over the centuries, but the world still has not been reached. It’s time for our generation to fulfill the great commission. This is our day. Here are three statements to help expand your vision for church planting.
Building on Another Man’s Foundation is an Inadequate Vision
“Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.” (Romans 15:20-21)
Even a casual glance at the book of Acts reveals that Paul was a pioneer missionary & church planter. He preached where Christ had not been named. His ministry reveals the primary function of the New Testament evangelist. There are people in every city and town who have not heard the gospel of Christ. Clearly it is part of God’s plan to build on the foundation of others to establish and strengthen churches (1 Cor. 3:6). However, if we truly want to expand our reach, we must be pioneers.
Our church planting efforts must move beyond focusing on people who are already believers. The Great Commission will not be fulfilled by reorganizing believers into different (even if they are better) congregations. We must evangelize before we organize new churches – that is the NT pattern. Church planting in Acts was the result of evangelism in a region not the cause of it. We must evangelize expecting God to raise up believers who will covenant together as a church to fulfill the great commission in their own communities.
Reaching a City for Christ is an Inadequate Vision
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16:9
The Macedonian call wasn’t to plant a church in a city. Macedonia isn’t a city; it is a region in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula. In response to this vision, Paul crossed over into Europe and founded churches in Macedonia at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea (Acts 16:11–17:13). The Macedonian call was to evangelize an entire region.
If we would evangelize our world, we must expand our focus. Establishing one church in a city is but a small step in God’s plan. There are many cities all over the USA that do not have independent Baptist churches. In Los Angeles County alone, there are over 50 incorporated areas without an independent Baptist church.
We must get a vision for multiplying churches. At our current rate of starting new churches, we are still diminishing in overall numbers due to church closings and population growth. How can we plant more churches? Pastor Mark Irmler preached an excellent message full of ideas about planting more churches available here. In short, if we will focus on trying to reproduce ourselves, we can accomplish much more than we are currently.
Waiting for Others to Come is an Inadequate Vision
“Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2
It is true that we need laborers to come to the harvest fields. The Lord instructed us to pray for more help in reaching the world. Where will these laborers come from? What did the early disciples do to find them? They certainly didn’t wait for a Bible college to send them. They looked to the harvest field to find more laborers!
The potential laborers to plant churches in the next towns and around the world are the converts of your ministry! We will still find laborers for the harvest from the fruit of the harvest. God has ordained that all things reproduce in kind. Christians must reproduce Christians. Churches must reproduce churches. And pastors must reproduce pastors.
Let’s encourage men in our churches to consider the need of world evangelism. Let’s pray that God will raise them up as laborers for the harvest. Paul’s oft quoted instruction to Timothy is not primarily about individual discipleship; it’s about pastors reproducing pastors: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (Timothy 2:2).
We can accomplish much for God’s glory! Don’t let a small vision hinder what God can do through us to reach the world with the gospel!