Home > Brandenburg, Evangelism, Methodology, Missions, The Church > Missions Is Not Church Planting

Missions Is Not Church Planting

January 10, 2008

You’ve probably read about the great basketball coach who wanted his players to learn the fundamentals, so he started the first practice with “this is a basketball.”  He wanted his team to learn how to play and so he didn’t take for granted anything that anyone needed to know.   We will miss the fundamentals of missions if we skip over the appropriate instruction from Scripture, just because we think we know that already.   The Bible is our sole authority, so it’s also where we find out about missions, not from Baptist or fundamentalist traditions.  The teaching of Jesus in the Gospels changed my thinking about what my life was about.  Are you willing to let it do the same to you?

Men shouldn’t start out thinking that missions is church planting because it isn’t what we see in Scripture.   God made the Bible sufficient for every good work, so we should allow God’s Word to regulate what and how we do what we do.  A lot of perversion in “missions” comes because of having church planting the initial thought of what a missionary does.  Jesus started the church, but that wasn’t the first thing that He did.  Before He went back to heaven, He sent men to do what He did.  So we ought to be clear about what Jesus did.  When we don’t follow His example, we can’t succeed at the mission that He gave us.

WHAT DID JESUS DO?

At the very end of Luke 9 is recorded the Lord’s journey to Jerusalem for His final Feast of the Tabernacles.  He was in Galilee and He turned His face toward Jerusalem to encounter the opposition of the religious leaders that would culminate in His death and resurrection.  He headed right toward the conflict with the authorities in Jerusalem, taking a direct route from Galilee to Jerusalem that would take Him through Samaria. This attendance of the Lord at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem is primarily recorded in John 7:11-10:21.  This particular feast represented an irreversible decision by the leaders of Israel concerning the Person of Christ.  They had rejected Him.

Jesus leaves Judea and moves briefly into the area of Perea.  His attention now would focus especially on His preparation of those that would carry on His service.  At the beginning of this time in Luke 10, the Lord sends out seventy professing believers to do His work.  The Lord Jesus Christ begins a new era in His earthly life and ministry by sending out seventy men as His representatives to declare the same message that He had been preaching.Â

The leadership of Israel–the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees–had made an irreversible decision about Christ.  As a result, the Lord would send witnesses directly to the people, circumventing their leaders, giving the people themselves an opportunity to respond individually.   In Jesus’ instructions to the seventy we get an understanding of what Jesus saw as His mission that they would continue after He left via the ascension.

No doubt, God intended for churches to start.  Surely this is why God allowed persecution in Jerusalem to split up the mounting number of believers there into the rest of the world.  Where a number of converts accumulated, a church was started, such as what we see in Antioch (Acts 11:19ff).   Later, Paul and Barnabas were sent out by those among the church at Antioch “for the work” that the Holy Spirit had “called them” (Acts 13:2).

The work that the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas was the same work that the Father had sent Jesus to do and then Jesus had directed us also.  This was the work for which He was readying the disciples in Luke 10.

In the first verse, we see that they were appointed by the Lord.  In Acts 13, we see it is the Holy Spirit.  It is still God that appoints men to go.  In Romans 10, we read:  “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”  Today we’re sent by the church to whom Christ has given authority (Mt. 16:19; Rev. 1:18-20), the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 3:16), and the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).  It’s obvious from Acts 13 that Godly men must agree that you are ready to go.

JESUS SENT MEN TO PREACH THE GOSPEL

I think there are a whole lot of other lessons that we should glean from Luke 10, but we’re going to look at only the most fundamental.  For instance, we could have something to say about the support that they received when they went or about the fact that there were seventy men that went and zero women, but we’re going to keep our eye on the major feature, that is, what they were out there to do.  Here’s the jist of it.  They went into a town that had no proclamation of the Word of God and they preached the message that God had sent them to preach, essentially a warning message that related to the consummation of all things.   In verse nine, the words of that message are:  “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

The kingdom of God has to do with conversion, when a person enters the sovereign rule of God by trusting Christ as his Messiah, and, therefore, his Savior.  The kingdom of God has to do with obeying God as King, turning to Him as Lord.  The kingdom of God has to do with receiving the benefits of the kingdom, the ultimate millennial kingdom on earth (Rev. 20).  They would have to receive the Word of God, because there was no visible kingdom to them.

If the offer for the kingdom was offered and refused, then it was to be withdrawn.  When they came back into Israel from a Gentile country, many Jews would literally shake as much dust off their feet as possible in order not to bring pagan soil into their homeland.  For the 70 to shake dust off their feet while leaving a Jewish house or town would be to treat the inhabitants like Gentiles—whom most Jews considered to be out of God’s reach. In Acts 13:51, after the leaders of the synagogue in Pisidia of Antioch drove Paul and Barnabas out of their district, it says, “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.”  These would be people and towns that had heard the clear testimony of the Gospel and continued to resist or oppose it.  When a person’s mind is firmly set against God, we should turn our efforts to others.

In other words, according to the instruction of the Lord Jesus Christ, towns that rejected the gospel were to have no church in them.  Jesus didn’t send them out to start churches, but to evangelize the population.  We don’t get any command of methodology here.  They were to go straight to people, preach this message, and then wait on them to respond.  That is the work that Jesus sent them to do, to proclaim boldly the gospel message.  He did not send them to start a church.

If anyone in Scripture went some place to start a church (and I’m not saying that anyone did), it was Barnabas and the prophets that were sent up to Antioch by the Jerusalem church when they heard about the gathering of believers that was already there.  Besides that, men in Scripture go to evangelize and if a number of people believe, then those men can leave a church at that location to continue assembling, continuing the worship and work of the Lord there.  In every version of the Great Commission, Jesus commands to preach and make disciples.  Nothing is said about “starting churches.”

WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL THIS MAKE?

What difference will this obedience to God’s Word make?  I believe that it not only will make a huge amount of difference, but that this is a key to erasing many of the problems that already exist in “missions” and “church planting” all over the world.  Instead of focusing on a church being started, men should focus on the gospel of Christ.  Our goal is to find out who wants the message.  We won’t find that out if we:

1)  Don’t preach the message.

This seems to be a a no-brainer, but it isn’t.  Men go to a town and they start advertising and inviting to services.  They get out a slick brochure to attract people and they get the phone banks busy.   Men are to be in that town letting that place know what the actual gospel is.  A consideration shouldn’t be whether it is family friendly or sensitive to seekers.  It is what it is.

2)  Don’t preach the right message.

We are required to preach the gospel that Jesus preached.  His included count the cost, repentance, and Lordship.  Jesus laid down the gauntlet on people.  We’re told today in evangelicalism and fundamentalism that this method will “turn people off.”  Part of why you’re in the town is to find out if the gospel will turn someone off.  If the gospel turns them off, then you’re supposed to leave, not to reinvent a new message to “contextualize,” or to give them some crafty communication that will cause it to slide down a little easier.  Our high view of God means that we think that what He said is terrific.  We’re not ashamed of it.  We don’t want people getting another message than the one that He gave.

3)  Don’t leave when people don’t want it.

One of our problems is that instead of leaving like we see Jesus teach and Paul exemplify, we stay and develop a new “strategy” or one that we were taught at a seminar (pastor’s conference).  We soften the message.  We tone down the rhetoric.  We intersperse more humor, promise to shorten the message, put into a power point presentation, and make it more psychologically palatable.   With the rest of the New Testament, I would agree that we have strongholds in people’s minds that we should be casting down, while those people are still listening.  When they don’t want it anymore; however, we are to move on.

Because of abuses to these three instructions of the Lord Jesus, in many cases towns get an organization different than the church that Jesus started.  They get a watered down gospel.  They get a bunch of compromising professing Christians.

When churches send men (and women) out today, and they send them to start churches, these men will often feel the pressure of getting a church started.  They know that the church is expecting a congregation in a relatively short period of time.  When that doesn’t happen as quickly as they expected, the men sent often begin thinking about how they can get this done.   In the back of their minds, they might think that they’re a failure if a church doesn’t get started.   Is this what Jesus said?  No.  He wanted people to leave when no one wanted the message.

When men know that they’re there to preach, they can preach with confidence and boldness, knowing that is what they’ve been sent to do.  Then the sending church will know that the gospel is being preached, which is exactly what the church wants.  It’s what God wants.   And not church planting.

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  1. January 10, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Kent,

    Jesus said, “I will build my church.” He did just that. He was a church-planter. He died for His church and He gave his church its ground rules. He trained the leadership.

    I know that often our philosophy of renting a building and putting up a sign is not biblical methodology. All of what you said about broadcasting the message over larger areas and looking for those who are interested is all true. However, Jesus started a church. He established that He would get glory through the church. And so, the goal of missions is starting churches by reaching people and training men. But, the ultimate goal is still church-planting.

    On a practical level, I will tell you what I have found. While I am going about preaching and looking for pockets of interest in other parts of the Ninth Region of Chile, my family sits at home. When I return I find that they are involved in ministry and they need me to minister to them. In the process we have seen a couple of others saved in the town where we have our base of operations. These people need to meet together with my family. My family needs to meet to sing to the Lord, give offerings, and hear preaching. They need to be discipled. After a while, they need a place to meet. After a while I find myself in the midst of what the Bible calls a church. Soon, I have to train a man to take that work over, because I am a missionary. And, in fact, it would probably be better that I move to another town, so that the national pastor has room to work without the missionary’s interference. And the whole process starts again. While in the meantime, I am bringing men in from other receptive areas to train for the ministry.

    I know there are men out there, and very successful ones, who never started a church at their base of operations, or only started one mega-church in at their base of operations. I believe to be an example to those I am training and to meet the needs of my family, which Paul didn’t have, I need to have “church” where I am, so that my family can be in a church and serve through the church. So our goal is church-planting. We are church-planting missionaries.

    Church-planting is why Jesus came. He gave Himself for the church. I realize that Ephesians five refers to His atonement, but it also refers to His purpose.

    In summary, I agree with most all of what you said, but I cannot go so far as to say that a missionary should not focus on church-planting. Jesus focused on it when He said, “I will build my church.”

  2. January 10, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Brother Don,

    I am as “local church” and “church-minded” as any Baptist preacher can be, I think. I would like to give you my thoughts on what Brother Kent has said:

    1. We have not been commanded to “start churches.” We have been commanded to make disciples. In the process of proper evangelism, churches will be started. The fulfilling of the Great Commission is accomplished when the church is started as a result of proper evangelism.

    2. Christ Jesus did indeed start and is building His church, but He did that by winning people to Himself and teaching them. I believe that is the focus we should have, not the “end-result.”

    3. I believe that churches will be started when we obey the Great Commission by utilizing proper evangelism, which includes preaching the Gospel, winning souls, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey God’s Word. The difference is in the focus for me.

    On another thought, we probably should not call this ministry “Missions” anyway. We probably should call it Evangelism, either locally or worldwide.

    Just my thoughts. I believe you are practicing what Brother Brandenburg was saying anyway.

  3. January 10, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Here’s a question about Matthew 16:18 and relating to this point. Was the church already started when Jesus said, “I will build my church”?

  4. January 10, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Art,

    The command to make disciples comes with a presupposition in the context. I think all three of us here agree that the Great Commission was given to the church, not to individual Christians and not to just evangelists. Otherwise, individuals would be baptizing their converts in their pool at home. So Jesus did not have to say, “Go, church, and make disciples.” They were a church already and understood the context. But, how did that first church start? Did Jesus evangelize the disciples? No he did not. He started with men that John the Baptist had reached and baptized, and, according to 1 Corinthians 12:28, began a church immediately with them (or at least within a few months of starting his ministry). Then, as a church, they began to reach out. It definitely was not a church that reflects our modern perverted concepts of buildings, denominations, church services, but Jesus calls it a church, nonetheless. So it is in that context that missions or evangelism should be done.

    Aside, I am in agreement with those here who have said that the missionary is not a biblical term. Missionary is from the latin for apostle. I am an evangelist. I fall back into using missionary and missions for mutual understanding.

    Anyway, the danger, as I see it, is getting the proverbial cart before the horse. There is a danger in giving disciple-making or even evangelism too much of center stage, as do so many evangelical ministries today, and relegating the church to different level, which robs glory from God’s plan for this age. The eventual effect created is a sense that the missionary must give constant personal discipleship to all the individual Christians that he has contacted or won, and winds up burnt out, when he should have gathered them right away and discipled them in a group context which is called a church in the Bible. Disciples are only effectively nurtured in a church.

    In fact, there are many missionaries and even national churches that actually call a group of people gathering together a “mission” work, instead of a church. I believe that is not God’s design according to the practice of Christ in which he called his small group a church immediately, not a cellular church or a small group Bible study or home Bible study.

    So, what I am proposing is that missionaries go to start churches by starting a church. Then the missionary is staring churches from start to finish and making disciples in the context of an institution that God has established to bring Himself glory.

    We could be saying the same thing. However, what I am hearing from Kent is that we should disciple men into a church. I believe Jesus actually put the apostles in a church context for discipleship to go out and evangelize and disciple. Forming the church relationship was actually priority one when he hit the ground.

  5. January 10, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Don,

    First, Scripture is sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Psalm 19). Second, the Bible is our sole authority (John 17:17; Mt. 4:4). Jesus said He would judge us by His Words (John 12:48). I have found we have our problems when we don’t follow Scripture. We start with a high view of God and Scripture and a very low view of ourselves.

    My post developed this whole point exegetically in a biblical theology. You didn’t spend any time refuting the actual exegesis that I gave. Your first comment gave one part of a verse and then a reference to another one. I can appreciate experience and even value it, but even Peter’s experience on the Mt. of Transfiguration he said was inferior to Scripture (2 Pet. 1:15-21).

    You gave one part of Mt. 16:18, “I will build my church.” Your point from that verse was that Jesus was a church planter. I asked, “Was the church already started when Jesus said, “I will build my church”?” You answered essentially, “Yes.” So you refuted your own point. Jesus “built” (“built up”—oikodomeo—“edified”) a church that was already started. You said that Jesus came as a church planter. What church did Jesus start? In your second comment, you said that John the Baptist started the first church. I agree with that, but what does that do to your “Jesus was a church planter” point?

    Later you reference Ephesians 5 and say that Christ died for the church. What does that have to do with church planting? If anything, it buoys what I have said, that is, that we go out to evangelize and with those who are justified based on Christ’s substituionary death, we form a church.

    Unless I’m mistaken, you make your argument from experience and then one other way. You associate what I wrote with “evangelical ministries” and a “cellular church” and a “small group Bible study.” That is argument ad hominem, essentially name-calling, a logical fallacy. What I wrote actually comes directly from the New Testament. Mussolini got the trains to run on time, but we’re not against prompt transportation service. Mormon missionaries ride bikes.

    In your second comment, you mention something about the whole church making disciples, referring to Matthew 28. That is correct. The plural of “you” is used. But isn’t that what a missionary (“evangelist”) is doing? He is sent by a church to go make disciples. So that is the church making disciples. When he baptizes believers, he baptizes them into the church. Which one? At some point a church will start, but how? Are you saying that once we have a group of gathered, baptized believers, baptized by the evangelist, that we have a new church separate from the church that sent the evangelist?

    We support two missionaries sent by Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. I love them and what they do. From reading their letters and emails, what I wrote in my post seems to be exactly what they and Lehigh Valley do. Somebody there must be thinking the same way that we do.

  6. Robert Mickey Jr
    January 10, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I was quickly looking at the blog and found a topic near and dear to my heart – missions. Things are a bit tense here in Kenya right now and I don’t have a lot of time to write because of all that is happening but let me just summarize what I think.

    I believe ultimately what we are to do on the “mission field” is to see the great commissioned fulfilled. I was sent to Kenya by the Cleveland Baptist Church to fulfill the great commission on behalf of the Cleveland Baptist Church. The great commission has three parts, salvation, baptism and teaching. I am to do all three. If I neglect any of those three I do not believe I am doing my job. If I do all three of those then the result will be churches started. They are to be done in order and not out of order

    So I agree and disagree. I preach the gospel but I do a whole lot more than preach the gospel. If all I do is preach gospel I am not fulfilling the great commission.

    I do not mean this in a bad way but sometimes those who come to Kenya and just preach the gospel do a lot of harm. I talked to one “missionary” who was praising God in the U.S. at the multitudes saved in Western Kenya when he came for two weeks and “fulfilled the great commission”. I investigated his claims and maybe some of those people got saved but they are all in wicked, ungodly charismatic churches etc. Why? Because he really did not fulfill the great commission- he only “preached the gospel”.

    I think most “perversion” in missions comes from not understanding the great commission.

    I hope I have made some sense and if I have misunderstood anything I apologize. I admittedly have only quickly read this topic.

    His for Kenya,

    Robert Mickey Jr.

  7. January 10, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Brother Mickey,

    First of all, welcome to the discussion. I was glad to hear that Brother Hall got out of the country all right.

    I think you agree more than disagree. When I say “evangelism”, and I think Brother Kent agrees with this, I am saying the proper preaching of the Gospel to the intent of baptizing Believers and teaching them all things Christ has commanded. So, I would agree with you about “mass evangelism” or preachers who visit and get many “decisions” or “professions” and then go home.

    The point, as I see it, is to preach the Gospel, baptizing the converts who come to Christ because of the preaching, and then teaching them all things, etc. The natural result of doing this will result in a church being established. God may or may not allow a church to be started in a particular town or community. But, if we preach the Gospel faithfully to that place, then go to another place, God is glorified.

    Our church is praying for your family and Kenya.

  8. January 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Since we are all busily trying to explain what Kent is saying… I’ll give it a shot too.

    I think the point here (the way I understand it) is what we commonly refer to as “cause and effect.” Discipleship is the cause, and established church is the effect. If we do not get the effect, then the cause is called into question. As we understand cause and effect, the effect is the cause of the cause, and the cause is the cause of the effect (in a manner of speaking). So, If we do not get a church, then something went awry with our discipleship (either we did not disciple properly or the gospel was rejected). The desire to establish a church causes us to go make disciples.

    So (if I am correct), discipleship is the means, and an established church is the end. And the error of many in this day is that they make an “established church” the means, and discipleship the end. This is truly a case of making the horse push the cart from behind. We set up the building, get all the features in place, along with our kewl brochure, and then we invite people to our “church” because we want to make disciples of them. We have made the end serve as the means, and thus the means has become the end.

    And, we should know by now that the one is not really easier than the other. In other words, it isn’t easier to get people to come to church and then make disciples of them. In fact, it seems to be more work than the other. If we go make disciples of them, and then bring them to church, we have done it God’s way, and the “coming to church” part will go much more smoothly (in a manner of speaking).

  9. January 10, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Dave, it was kewl how you like totally got what I wrote. I just finished teaching history and Bible class, which I do Mon-Fri. By the way, I hate it when I try to say something. (c; I so much like to, you know, just say it. I thought I did.

    We go to preach the gospel. You can’t disciple an unsaved person and you can’t make a church out of unsaved people. We do believe in “R,” Regenerate, immersed church membership. We don’t have a membership without regeneration. It’s like making a ham salad sandwich without ham. It’s like ordering a burger at Burger King and holding the burger. You don’t have anything without salvation. Christ builds the church after all, so we need to stop building churches and start doing what we’re supposed to do in His building process. One more thing here—consider one part of Matthew 16:18—what is “the rock” upon which Christ builds. I think it is the confession of Peter in v. 16, that Jesus says in v. 17 that heaven reveals to Peter. In other words, the church is built on a God-initiated profession of faith in Christ. Before we have a church, we must have those who truly confess Christ. How do we get those?

    I said very clearly in the article that I wanted churches started, but that’s not what I go to do. I go to preach. If they are justified, I baptize into a church.

    If someone is going to refute this, they really should put together the exegesis to show how it is wrong, whether I ever lived or died or breathed or existed. The Bible still means the same thing.

    And Robert, I like your participation. I’m glad you’re able to read Jackhammer in Kenya. I’m amazed about Kenya. I looked at Kenya as a more stable African country. I know Rick Simonson there. We were in seminary together.

  10. January 11, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Jesus laboured primarily in 3 regions.
    Churches were started throughout all of those 3 regions.
    Jesus laboured so that those churches would be started.
    Acts 9:31 Says “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria and were…. multiplied”.
    This was around A.D. 35, just 3-5 years after Jesus ministry ended.

    Your statement:
    “No doubt, God intended for churches to start. Surely this is why God allowed persecution in Jerusalem to split up the mounting number of believers there into the REST OF THE WORLD.” (Emphasis mine)
    I Think you are missing something when you do not mention Acts 8:1, which says that the persecution scattered them first to Judea and Samaria, not the rest of the world. They would eventually go to the rest of the world, but my understanding of Acts 8:1-2 is that they went to Israel first. I could be wrong, would’nt be the first time.
    The point does remain however that they were scattered to the very areas that Jesus had been rejected in.

    I agree with the main point of your article. There was no church started when Paul went to Athens in Acts 17. Missions is evangelism/discipleship first and foremost. I agree that Jesus commanded evangelism not inviting people to church.

    My only disagreement is that your article, in my opinion does not represent the whole picture of the work of Christ as it resulted in churches being started.
    Here is another statement which, I believe, doesn’t fit when you consider Acts 9:31:
    “Part of why you’re in the town is to find out if the gospel will turn someone off. If the gospel turns them off, then you’re supposed to leave,”
    Yes Jesus left, he only had 3 years of earthly ministry.
    Yet in a sense Jesus came right back because He sent his disciples there (Acts 8:1) and His presence was with them (Matt 20:20) and His presence stayed there as He is in the midst of His churches (Rev 2:1, Matt 18:20).
    So IMHO, as you point out that Christ left and commanded His disciples to leave those areas where the Gospel was not recieved, you maybe should have pointed out that Christ sent others back to those same areas.
    Bottom line:
    Churches were started there (Acts 9:31, I Thess 2:14).
    Jesus knew they would be started there.
    Jesus laboured so that they would be started there.

    Israel is not that big. When one considers churches throughout Israel, being MULTIPLIED it would seem pretty certain that those same people that rejected Jesus were confronted again and again with the Gospel. This is the beauty of labouring in evangelism with the goal of seeing Christ establish churches.

  11. January 11, 2008 at 6:54 am

    As a missionary, my goal is to obey the Great Commission in reagrds to the work the Lord has called me to do. I am to follow Matthew 28:19.20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8 etc… (These verses, and other similar verses, are the Biblical authority behind missions.) I am therefore to preach the gospel and disciple those who trust Christ. As a result a church will be established. This is God’s design. Church planting is the ultimate goal.

    Here is the Biblical pattern for Biblical mission work as I follow it in PNG:
    I am to go into new villages preaching the gospel. If there are converts as a result of the preaching, my next step is discipling, with the end goal a self supporting local church. If a local church is established, I have accomplished my goal for that village. A goal that I believe is Biblically mandated by verses like Matthew 28:19, 20. (The only way to fully accomplish Matthew 28:19 20 is by establishing a local church. These verses are the directive for missions.) Granted, I can not accomplish it backwards. I do not start teaching Bible doctrine to lost people. This is absurd. It has to start with the gospel followed by conversion.

    Kent, I have met several “church planting” missionaries in PNG. I do not believe I have met one that does not follow the Biblical model. I see a lot of problems with missions today, but I do not see this as a major problem.

  12. January 11, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Good discussion. Thanks for your participation.

    Bro. Nordgren,

    I liked the use of Scripture. I wouldn’t have expected otherwise, which speaks well of you. You also quoted me, which indicated you read the post.

    That being said, I don’t know exactly what your point is. You don’t show any place where Jesus sent anyone out to start churches.

    At this point I’d like to address everyone: I clearly said that planting churches is Scriptural. I also want them to be started, everywhere.

    What you do, BJ, is show that churches were started in three regions (not towns). I don’t dispute that. I appreciate your examples in Acts 8 and 9. I gave the Acts 11 example to provide a segue for Acts 13, and I could have added Acts 8 and 9 and they both would have backed up my point. The description in these passages says that the consequence of people scattering was that churches were started in those new places. God wants churches started. I made that point. You help my point. Even areas where they dusted their feet, when a group of believers moved there, a church was started, but not before that.

    You say that you agree with the main point of my article. I’m glad. You agree actually with the only point of my article. You can’t argue with me about it being God’s will that churches be started, because I made that Scriptural observation. I’m not sure really what it is that you disagree with.

    One thing your comment did not show Scripturally was the conclusion that Jesus labored so that churches would be started in the areas that rejected the gospel. I don’t come to the same conclusion. The text certainly doesn’t say it. In Acts 8:1, they were scattered by persecution and the net result was that there were churches in those areas. Areas. I never said that Jesus was done evangelizing Israel by the time He left. I don’t think they were done, which is why Acts 1:8. What Jesus did say was that they would be witnesses in those areas.

    Here’s the question. What did Jesus send men/us to do? He sent to preach the gospel/make disciples. I agree that churches make disciples. A missionary goes under the authority of the church. This was all said in my post.

    Bro. Terry,

    What you sound like is that we agree. What you are saying is that you don’t see this as much a problem as I do. I’m happy to hear that you see it being done right in PNG. I would tend to think that in certain foreign fields that what you say is the case. I believe what I am saying, however, does happen all over, and it especially happens in American church planting. When new churches are started here, the Scriptural model is rarely followed. I do think that Bro. Nordgren is following it. His sending church and pastor believes it. I’ve read it in several articles from the Lifeline put out by Anchor.

    Personally, I see this an epidemic problem in the U.S. What is at stake is the gospel. I went up to evangelize in Southern Sacramento/Elk Grove and churches are starting all over the place in that face growing area. I see very little evangelism, however. For as many “churches” being started, you would think that the place would be carpeted with people preaching. Not so. In my lifetime, I’ve been with men who were “planting a church” and they were not preaching, they were going around handing out the brochure and inviting people to a service, hoping that people might come. If people are saved, they’ll like that you’re preaching and that is a good motivation for them to come to a gathering. Preaching, however, is the way that we’ll find out whether that town wants the gospel.

    I’ve got to go; I’ve got school chapel.

  13. Chad Delhotal
    January 11, 2008 at 10:26 am

    As a pastor of newly established church, I have found this discussion very interesting. I believe that some very important points have been brought out. The focus of evangelism (or missions) should be the proclamation of the gospel, followed by baptism and discipleship. You certainly cannot establish a church without first either finding or making disciples. However, it is important to note that Jesus said that we are to teach them to “observe all things whatsoever (he) commanded.” John 16:13-15 makes it clear that what the Holy Spirit teaches in the rest of the New Testament are also commands of Jesus. Therefore, proper discipleship will result in church attendance and involvement. If there is no church in a given location, then it stands to reason that one should be established and that this is a valid goal of both the evangelism and discipleship. Furthermore, Paul seems to indicate that the establishing of churches is his “cause” in the ministry in Ephesians 3:1 (compare the consider the context especially 2:19-22 and 3:3, 5-7, 9-10 where the mystery seems to the the local church itself, not merely the fact that Gentiles would be converted).
    I tried to be brief; I hope I make sense.

  14. January 11, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Back from chapel, and before I leave for history, good comment Chad. I agree that without a church, we won’t preach the gospel, because the church sends, which I said in my article. I do believe that newly saved people must associate with a church and that the church will fulfill the command to make disciples. Your Ephesians reference showed how important these are and how interconnected they are. I don’t think that you can say that the “cause” of Paul in Eph. 3:1 was his only cause. It says “this cause,” so he is referring with a near demonstrative pronoun to something he said in chapter 2 and relating it to chapter 3. He does something in chapter 3 beCAUSE of something he taught in chapter 2. I was glad to look at that with you.

    Again, I had a narrow focus with my article and that is missions. What are we doing when we go to a lost world. We go to evangelize them.

    Are we saying, gang, that you don’t see this as an issue, that is, what I have written? I see it as a major issue, that is, gospel preaching. We’ve made “church building” so complex. We go out and preach the gospel. We shouldn’t want a church of people who don’t believe the gospel.

  15. January 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Bro Kent made a very true statement today, “We’ve made “church building” so complex.” The fact is church planting on our end follows a simple pattern, and yet when I read books on the subject they usually have one chapter on Bible methodology and then dive into 14 other chapters of man made efforts. By the time your finished reading you have list of 98 things you need to do to plant/build a church.

    We need to be Biblically driven instead of numbers driven in our efforts to accomplish the great commission. Please do not think that I do not desire to see multitudes saved. I truly dream and day dream of entire villages coming to the Lord with only one true church in the village. However, we must stay focused on how the Lord has directed us and leave the results to him. I will not be judged based on numbers, but on my obedience to the Lord. Let’s remember, many of the churches in the New Testament were house churches. We have come to the place in America, that unless you meet certain worldly requirements such has a separate church building, pews, choir loft, baptistery etc… you do not have a “real” church.

    Now, I am a realist. I understand it will be difficult to build a church in the American culture with a house church. However, as I already stated, we need to leave the results to God. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” He did not say “he would build your church”, nor did he say “you will build my church.” God knows how for provide for his work. We simply need to follow the Lord and trust him to provide. Matthew 6:33 is very true! I would whether have a house church with true converts who love the Lord, then a church of 500 who are sheep in wolves clothing or carnal. (My point is not that big churches are wrong. A church that does not follow God’s design is wrong regardless of size. A church that does follow God’s design is right regardless of size.)

  16. January 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Kent,

    I doubt anyone here believes that we should go make churches of lost people. I think the think that most everybody here has disagreed with is the title of this post, “Missions is not church planting.” Jesus came to start a church. Missionaries go to their fields to start a church. Your exegesis of Luke 10 left out the important context that Jesus sent them out of the church. I agree with the church-preaching methodology that is learned through a careful exegesis of that passage, which you so ably presented. But a careful exegesis also involves the greater context of what is written. That is why I brushed over you post and went directly to Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 3:21. Jesus was sending agents of his first church to evangelize as part of the work of the church is the same sense that I send members out each week to preach and evangelize. In this same sense members participate in the Great Commission, which was given in the context of a church and reflects the same phraseology of Ephesians 1:17-23. The conveyance of power in Matthew 28:16-18 is referred to in Ephesians 1 as statement given to the church. That church power is also referred to in Matthew 16, proving that Christ’s Commission is given to the church to carry out. And that Commission clearly has the goal of starting churches as Jesus started his. So to say that missions is not church-planting is not scriptural. You could say that missions is not just church-planting. I can agree with that. God sends us to spread the light, but some will chose to remain in darkness. The effect of our preaching in that case will be to further condemn them as in the days of Isaiah. However, church-planting is clearly a New Testament goal for missions, though there is no direct command to go a start churches.

  17. January 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Don,

    Jackhammer readers in general, it’s true, would say that they do not think we should make churches out of lost people. However, the wrong Scriptural focus or aim will affect the consequence. Many men believe that it is easier to get bodies into the building if they don’t preach the gospel. They won’t say that’s their strategy—not preaching the gospel—but it is what occurs. And in the meantime, the gospel isn’t preached to everyone like the Scripture teaches.

    I still like my title because I still believe it’s true. I also knew more people would read the article because of how stark it was. If you look at almost every purpose-for-Jesus-coming verse, it will be the same—He came to save sinners, He came to seek and to save them which were lost, He came to save the world, He came to preach the gospel, He came to preach deliverance to the captives, etc.

    The mission is the Great Commission. Will it be accomplished without a church? No. It was given to the church. The church is who accomplishes it. But the mission is to preach the gospel to every creature. That is the mission of the Commission.

  18. January 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Your article is excellant. I think the title was chosen to generate interest and it certainly has. There is only one facet that I see differently.
    Maybe I am taking issue more with the idea of “shaking the dust of your feet” and “leaving when people do not get saved” than I did the thrust of your article. But my intention was to point out 2 things:

    1. There was no mention that churches were started in the regions where Jesus was rejected (Acts 9:31). I think that is very significant.
    2. I do not think your take on Luke 10 supports the idea that we should leave when people do not get saved. Jesus did command them to shake the dust of their feet, but he also commanded them not to take shoes and host of other stuff. He told the maniac of Gadera to stay in an area that basically rejected him (Lk 8:37-39).

    I Think Acts 9:31 is key to understanding the big picture of Jesus’ ministry. He laboured and the result was churches being established in the nation of Israel (I Thess 2:14).

    On the other hand. Your article is spot on in exposing the false methodology that is promoted in order to “start churches”.
    Here is a quick thought on that:
    I love the order in Eph 4:12:
    We are to perfect saints-they actually are saved/saints. I Love the usage of the plural, focus on them as indviduals.
    which results in the:
    Edifying of the body of Christ (the church corporately). The body is built by individuals getting saved and being matured.
    I think some people look past this order and seek to build the corporate first.
    This is done because they want to have a big crowd or whatever.
    I also like that edifying is the same word as found in Matt 16:18 “I will build my church”. Jesus build or edifies His church through individuals getting saved (becoming saints) and being matured.
    We may look to gather a crowd to “start a church”.
    Jesus looks to individuals and as they are matured the church is built.
    If we look past the individuals to build a crowd than we are not doing the Lord’s work. We may call it church planting, but it is no different than gathering a social club. If evangelism and discipleship does not build it than it shouldnt be built. I am rambling here, I better quit. I think it is actually not that hard to build a crowd. If you have a good enough personality and enough incentives you can build anything. It takes the blessing and favour of God to build a church. It is God that giveth the increase. I pray that we all could see this happen in Chicago, the Bay area, PNG, Kenya wherever. God giving increase, people being genuinely saved and a perfected and churches being built!

  19. January 11, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Some good breaking down of the Scriptures. Enjoyed it.

    Acts 9:31 is an amazing verse, and most of you probably know there is a textual variant there. Of course, I always go with the TR, but the term “churches” backs up local only ecclesiology. I don’t know what towns rejected the message the seventy went to preach. We don’t hear that any did. Maybe none did. That wasn’t the point. I think that if Jesus said something about it, that it would happen, since He is omniscient. We do see Paul dust his feet, so he was putting into practice what Jesus told the seventy, so it was an ongoing practice commissioned by Jesus and exemplified by Paul. It says that we don’t do any gathering where there’s no one to gather. Did Jesus know in advance men would scatter and so churches would start there like we see occur in Acts 9:31? Yes. But what did He tell them to do? What did He tell us to do?

    Once there were gospel believers somewhere, they were to be baptized, and Paul told Titus to appoint elders in every city. Every city was targeted for a church, but there wouldn’t be one without belief in the gospel. Your 1 Thessalonians verse backs this up. I have long loved 1 Thess. 2:1-13. I call it Paul’s how-to book for the ministry.

    I can’t wrap my brain around the idea that leaving dust was the same thing as leaving shoes. I think that leaving shoes was indicative of something else that I might deal with in a future post on missions. Leaving dust meant what I explained in my post. I believe he told the former maniac to stay because he was headed toward Calvary and wasn’t wanting unwanted attention. I will grant you this. It is possible that part of why He told the Gaderite to stay was that He knew that there would be a church there in the future, once that scattering thing took place. Of course, He knows everything. But I believe the clear explanation was the one that related to Jesus’ purpose on earth at that time.

  20. Isaiah
    January 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Can you explain that again guy’s. Thank you

  21. January 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Guy’s what, Isaiah? You used the possessive. What that I possess do you want explaining? Thank you.

  22. January 12, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Kent,

    I am definitely seeing your point of view. I agree that the first and primary purpose of the Great Commission is the preaching of the gospel. That preaching has two purposes: in the case of those who receive it, the purpose is to then carry on with them in discipleship, in the other case of those who do not receive it, the purpose is to fulfill the command to preach the gospel to every creature. That is definitely the primary purpose of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19,20. The process that you have laid out from Luke 10 is clear, and is essentially what we are doing here in Chile. While I am currently nuturing one church that is started here in Labranza, we are travelling out to many different towns sowing gospel seed and looking for those who will receive that seed with joy, and bear fruit. In the towns that we have gone, if we have knocked all the doors and there has been no response, we move on. Where there is a response we try to see how far those people are willing to follow the Scripture in baptism and discipleship.

    I guess the only thing we are disagreeing on is whether or not the purpose of missions is church planting. However, I do see now, as you have stated that nowhere are the apostles told to start churches, though they did. Nowhere was Paul told to start a church, though he did. Nowhere did Jesus say that he came to start a church, though he did. Nowhere in the epistles do they say that we need to start churches, though Hebrews 10:25 says we should gather, though Ephesians 4 says that officers are given to build the church, though 1 Corinthians 12 details how the gifts are for the benefit of the church. And, though many epistles are written to churches about church for the church’s sake, they are not told to start churches. They are told to preach the gospel, baptize and disciple. Though we know God gets glory through the starting of churches in this age and the church is the recipient of his great power and authority, we are not told to start them. They just start.

    I guess there’s two possible explanations for this in my mind. One, it was so very obvious that it didn’t need to be said. Or, it is not said because church-planting is so completely spontaneous, that no one needs to focus on it.

  23. January 12, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Looks like Isaiah’s on a roll there. Hope he doesn’t hurt himself.

  24. January 12, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Exactly Don. Which is what I see the Lehigh Valley missionaries doing. The spread of the gospel is the mission. Salvations, baptisms, and then churches started is the result. Certainly, they had churches in mind, but it wasn’t the emphasis. Why? I don’t know that Scripture says, but it could be that the gospel is the emphasis because of the second reason you gave above. Saved people will worship Him in spirit and in truth, and that way of worship is the church in the age in which we live.

  25. January 13, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    I’ll tell you what. This aspect of a missionary call is the most illusive of all I have tried to accomplish. When I return to the field I have these great ideas of how I am going to cover the whole region with the gospel. And, I start off well. But some how I always get bogged down in my office doing stuff (like blogging), and don’t really do what Jesus did, which is “going about ALL the cities and villages” preaching the gospel. This He did in less than three years. Paul covered a crescent from Jerusalem to Illyricum in maybe twenty years to the point that he could say that he was free from the blood of all men in that area… Oh man, here comes the guilt again! Ah, you just had to bring this up! 🙂

  26. Steve Bates
    January 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Kent,

    Been away from the computer for a couple days so I hope this is not too late to get your thoughts on this question.

    Let me say first that I have read and in agreement with your point. I also see the frustration of some others. I do view the task of the Great Commission as ultimately church planting; however, I clearly see that it is true that XYZ missonary goes to a city to preach the gospel and if ABC city does NOT receive the gospel of Jesus Christ then XYZ missionary ougut to move (“shake dust off”) on to another city (perhaps in the same region/country that he believes that God has burdened his heart). With you there (If that is what you are saying).

    I also know this is a separate discussion but it caused me to think of this question.

    Here is my question(s):
    1 If XYZ missionary goes to ABC country and DOES make a convert…what next? Do you believe he should baptize him at the earliest convenience? If the answer is YES, then under what authority? XYZ’s sending church? If so, then does this convert become a member of XYZ’s sending church? (Which I would think you’d say NO!) OR (next senario after converts salvation) Does XYZ missionary “teach” (discipleship) this convert with the idea of forming a NT church and THEN baptize this one into the newly formed church? OR Perhaps your view is that baptism does not “add” one to a local church!

    Curious to your thoughts!

  27. January 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Steve,

    Glad to see you here. Good questions. I actually do believe that the missionary (evangelist) from XYZ church does baptize the person from ABC country into the XYZ church. At some point in the future, when there is an assembly, XYZ church grants authority to the new ABC church. Authority comes from authority. The evangelist is a member of XYZ and is baptizing the new converts into his own church. After the XYZ gives the ABC group church authority, then ABC begins baptizing new converts into the ABC church. The XYZ recognizes their baptism as authoritative. I believe this is the ideal. I also believe that a group of properly baptized people could be gathered together, but they should seek recognition of authority from a mother church. Any group of assembled believers should not instantly constitute a church, I don’t believe.

    I do believe the newly justified are baptized into a church (1 Cor. 2:13).

    I’m not opposed to a church foreseeing a new church started somewhere because that’s what occurs when people get saved and baptized. However, the initial goal is gospel preaching and salvation. I believe that when we don’t do so that we are not following the Scriptural pattern.

  28. Steve Bates
    January 21, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Kent,

    Good thoughts. Thank you for this post!

    Steve

  29. January 21, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    So the follow-up should be, where in the Bible did this formal transfer of authority happen in Paul’s ministry? It seemed to happen in Acts 8 with Philip. However, is it possible that our formal process of church planting is extra-biblical? Does a group of scripturally-baptized (i.e. baptized by an church-ordained individual) believers need a formal statement or decision from the sending church of the missionary to exist, if the missionary has already been sent and has already gathered them?

  30. Steve Bates
    January 22, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Kent and Don,

    In Acts 8, do you think that 1) the eunuch was baptized into the membership of the Jerusalem church (a member of the Jerusalem church), or 2) was baptized under the authority of the Jerusalem church, or 3) maybe both?

    Forgive me for sidetracking from the “mission” of the post! Just curious as to your thoughts!

  31. January 22, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Steve,

    Paul taught that water baptism adds a Christian to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). That body being a local congregation (1 Corinthians 12:27), the eunuch was baptized into the church that Philip was representing – the church at Jerusalem. However, he was not able to congregate with his church. Only the Lord knows what happened with him over time. Perhaps he decided that he needed a church and decided to return to Jerusalem. Perhaps he decided to evangelize the court of Candace in Ethiopia and eventually called an apostle or an evangelist to start a church in his area. The Scripture just doesn’t tell us that part. So, based on what we know the Scriptures DO say, l believe he was a member of the church at Jerusalem.

    This, I think, is related to my question above as well. If the apostles and evangelists of the New Testament were so concerned about formal recognition and organization of churches like we are today, why did they leave groups or single baptized believers on their own at times without any formal organization?

  32. January 30, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Good comparison between the Basket ball game and missions and Yes I do agree that the Bible is our sole authority, so it’s also where we find out about missions, not from Baptist or fundamentalist traditions and finally well said about what did Jesus do.

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