Jesus did not command us to plant churches

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Bert Perry's picture

The title bothers me--if we make disciples in the context of churches, every new place for disciples ought also be a new church body, no?  So God does at least implicitly tell us to found new churches, I would think.  But that said, agreed 100% that we all too often shuffle around believers instead of winning new people for Christ.  As William notes, we all think we do things the Jesus way, but at a certain point we need to consider the results of what we're doing and the Biblical support--or lack thereof--for what we're doing.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Those who were taught directly by Jesus went out and planted churches. Why? Because apparently that's what they thought he was telling them to do. Why do we think differently?

Bert Perry's picture

...that what's at stake here is some confusion over what the nature of a "church:" is with regards to the word "ecclesia"?  Like some churches will say "the Church of Christ meets here" and that sort of thing?  If the church is, properly speaking, not the building but the assembly of believers, that it would be impossible to make disciples without creating a church.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I believe Larry hit the nail on the head.  The Apostles of Christ went into the world and planted churches.  The ones they trained went to new areas and planted churches.  (Think Colossians)  Obviously, the Apostles of Christ understood the Great Commission to mean make disciples and organize them into churches.

G. N. Barkman

Larry Nelson's picture

 

Excerpt: "Imagine what would happen if we began to create a church planting atmosphere in North America whereby the expectation for new churches is that they should consist of 95-100% new believers–at the moment those churches are planted."

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A church consisting of 95-100% new believers would:

1. Consist of a high percentage of people who are (as yet) spiritually immature and lacking in sanctification:

"But I, brothers,a could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh." (1 Cor. 3:1-3a ESV)

2. Be overall lacking in discernment:

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)

3. Have few (if any) who would qualify to be Elders:

"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil." (1 Tim. 3:1-7 ESV)

4. And have various other deficiencies.....

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In many ways, there is a lag time between becoming a new believer and becoming a fully-contributing church member.  I see this in my own church at the present; that's a consequence of being in a church that has been experiencing recent, rapid growth.

Taking a look at a random, recent weekend's attendance figure at my church (using the third week in July), attendance was 61% higher than the comparable weekend just two years ago.  Much (but of course not all) of this is growth due to new believers.

Is our volunteer roster up 61% in that same time?  Not hardly.  We experience difficulty in filling the rising number of volunteer roles that accompany such growth.  In some cases, certain volunteer roles require a degree of spiritual maturity that simply doesn't exist in a volunteer candidate yet.  In other cases, believers lacking in spiritual maturity are not yet ready or willing to assume the responsibility of making a volunteer commitment.

Likewise, is our giving up 61%?  Again, not hardly.  It's up significantly, to be sure, but new believers often need discipleship to become consistent givers.     

Joeb's picture

I read the article and if the church  is being planted in a well  planted area what is one accomplishing.  As said a new Form of worship or attract believers from other churches.  I saw a recent plant in a store front. It was in an area with a good number of Fundemental and other willow creek type churches. The church was set up like s coffee shop theme and in a lily white suburb outside of burned out coal town 70 g pop.  After seeing it I kind of scratched my head.  What is the purpose of this Church plant.  Maybe to attract shoppers. Well who am I to judge but maybe someone here can lend me some outlook on this. It was right across the street from a large Catholic Church right in the  downtown and next to an already operating coffee shop.  Good example of ?????   I scratch my head every time I walk by. I guess it could be another twist ina missionary church.  The area would be considered applachia but very much a catholic area where some areas of burned out coal Appalachia would tend to be non Catholic. In the US how do you define an unchurched area. One I can think of is in areas around the large Ivy League universities surrounded by hollow liberal main line churches or in rural areas like upstate Maine or depopulated Kansas Detroit.  Where to plant a church. If you have ever been to Princeton you get the idea of Hollow churches real fast.  When I was growing up I lived outside Princeton early 70s and their was only one church in the area teaching the gospel my church. At the time it was called Westerly Road church. I had never been to an area like that growing up and so devoid of any churches preaching the gospel.  Riding to church was actually spooky. In my day Princeton was the center of big big money and the center of liberalism and almost devoid of the gospel. Of course now things have changed but I think unharvested fields could be under ones nose.  Only one Fundemental Baptist church in the whole of Mercer County NJ at the time. It's is still that way. My question would be did the Fundementalist Baptists ie Bob Jones GARB etc shy away from this area.  Now in the early 70s Bill Gothard made a run at my church but the wise Pastors and Godly men saw him for the phoney he was and showed him the door but other than that the area was devoid for quite a while.  Not unlike are wise BERT  who would have probably planted his foot in Gothard's fanny on the way out the door. 

Jim's picture

Some common sense advice:

  • Home missions: When a guy says "I'm going to plant a church in __________ because there is little gospel there"; view churches in Google maps for a reality check. This is especially true in the South including Florida. I spent 3 years in Tampa just out of college so I can speak specifically about that location. There is not a paucity of churches there. Yet some speak of the area as under-churched.
  • Foreign missions and languages: Most should be able to learn and master the destination language before commencing deputation. I have a retired friend who learned conversational French before she retired (in her late 50's). I have a nephew who mastered Korean in the Army. If there is going to be a language failure, fail before deputation.
  • Age: I know a guy who wants to start a Bible college in some S American country. He's already nearly 60 and doesn't speak the language. Too late in my opinion for him.
TylerR's picture

Editor

Jim:

To piggy-back on one of your comments, you wrote:

When a guy says "I'm going to plant a church in __________ because there is little gospel there"; view churches in Google maps for a reality check. 

I remember one church service I was at where a cultic KJVO missionary from Providence Baptist Bible College actually stated he felt called to go to New Zealand because "there are a lot of Baptist churches there, a lot of Methodists and even some Presbyterians . . . but there aren't any true churches! There aren't any independent, fundamental, King James, Bible-believing churches there that preach the Gospel!" 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry Nelson's picture

TylerR wrote:

Jim:

To piggy-back on one of your comments, you wrote:

When a guy says "I'm going to plant a church in __________ because there is little gospel there"; view churches in Google maps for a reality check. 

I remember one church service I was at where a cultic KJVO missionary from Providence Baptist Bible College actually stated he felt called to go to New Zealand because "there are a lot of Baptist churches there, a lot of Methodists and even some Presbyterians . . . but there aren't any true churches! There aren't any independent, fundamental, King James, Bible-believing churches there that preach the Gospel!" 

 

A new church was planted a few years ago in a large Minnesota town (> 20,000 population) because, "There aren't any Bible-believing churches there."

From what I know about this town, there was already 1 Evangelical Free church, 1 Baptist General Conference/Converge church, and 2 non-denominational evangelical churches in the town.

What the originating church really meant was, "There aren't any KJVO churches there."    

Bert Perry's picture

+ a billion on what Jim said about learning the language.  You might need to move to a new city to learn a new language well--say to Minnesota if you want to minister to Norwegians or something--but there are tremendous opportunities to learn languages from native speakers in this country for most missionaries.  We may sound "American" for a while, but....that's exactly what you'll find even if we learn overseas.  Tremendous opportunities in community colleges, ethnic churches, and more.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.