Envisioning Church Planting

Jesus guaranteed that he would build his church upon the solid rock foundation of the apostles and their proclamation of the gospel (Matt. 16:18). The book of Acts narrates some sweeping pictures of the beginning stages of him building his church by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the apostles’ preaching of the gospel. If a local church is to take root and begin growing in any particular place—if a church is to be planted—it must be Jesus himself who does the planting, by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel. Paul testified of the gospel message as the only power God utilizes to bring salvation to believers (Rom. 1:16); therefore, the clear and bold proclamation of the gospel must be pervasive in the work of church planting.

With this biblical foundation in mind, my desire to serve people by being involved in the planting of churches has grown out of my confidence in the power of God working through the preaching of the gospel. Every person on the face of the planet needs Jesus Christ. God has chosen to fill that need by empowering his people as his ambassadors, carrying the only message that gives eternal life, the message that announces the appearance of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who revealed God to the world most clearly in his perfect life filled with grace and truth. He then died a sacrificial death, taking the place of sinners and paying God’s righteous penalty for sin, and rose from the dead, announcing God’s acceptance of the sacrifice offered on behalf of sinners and displaying his victory over evil and death itself, and then returned to heaven where he remains interceding on behalf of his people. More churches ought to result in more ambassadors in a given area. I long to be a part of an assembly of believers who exhibits a palpable passion for being and making disciples of Jesus Christ, and I yearn to serve believers with the gifts God gives me to provide biblical shepherding in order that we may all together live lives visibly obedient to the Great Commission. I desire to see gatherings of believers who experience increasing satisfaction in Christ as they hear and obey God’s word preached, who worship together in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit and based on the truth revealed in God’s word, and who love one another in ways that cause unbelievers to recognize that we are disciples of Jesus.

The clear and bold proclamation of the gospel and exposition of the Scriptures must permeate the ministry of a church plant. With that basis, elders may be able to provide adequate shepherding that equips God’s people to speak the truth in love with each other, so that believers may receive healing and help from God as he works through his people. The leadership of churches must be committed to praying joyfully and continually for the flock entrusted to their care, for the community in which they live, and for the experience of Jesus’ gentle kingdom-rule across the globe. I earnestly desire to be such a shepherd among God’s people. God has built me with few other desires and few other gifts than to know Jesus well by studying the Scriptures and teaching and preaching them to others. Though God’s word should bring reproach and derision in coming years, with Jeremiah, I must admit that “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9).