Church Planting Part 1: A New Starting Point
This post is the first post in a series on Church Planting.
JD Payne, my church planting professor defines church planting as, “evangelism that results in new churches.” The term “church planting” is actually a bit of a misnomer, and can be rather confusing. For many, church planting is about gathering a group of people, mostly Christians, together to form a new congregation. But this doesn’t look anything like what we call church planting in the New Testament. What do we really mean, and does it matter?
I want to propose a new starting point for the discussion of church planting, which Dr. Payne’s definition touches, but doesn’t quite emphasize heavily enough. I want to propose that we go back to talking about planting in terms of evangelism and discipleship as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 3. Let’s forget the term “church planting” and talk about making disciples, planting the gospel in hearts and reaping a harvest. Then let’s let the church grow as these new believers band together to worship their Redeemer, baptize and celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and proclaim the gospel to one another and the world.
Paul saw churches growing all over the Roman empire because he didn’t set out to plant churches. He set out to make disciples. Once he had made disciples, he empowered them to band together in churches. He gave them time and space to form structures, and then returned to choose elders. Changing our definition puts our focus where it should be, on fulfilling the Great Commission by making disciples.