Tag: church planting

God Meets His Church’s Needs

Matthew 16:18 – “on this rock I will build my church”. He will build it from the foundation up, raising up a structure as a house builder would. Christ is not only committed to effectually building his church, he is also prepared to provide every resource necessary for the task. It is God who, according to his eternal purpose, directs people and materiel to particular places at given times, gathering a church together and raising up another witness to his incomparable grace.

A. Personnel needs

1. hands-on help for the planter

Epaphroditus Php_2:25-30

Epaphras Col_1:7 Col_4:12 Phm_1:23

Aquila and Priscilla Act_18:1-2

2. prayer support for the planter

the Ephesian church Eph_6:19-20 Col_4:3-4 2Th_3:1

3. appointment of elders by the planter

Paul and Barnabas – “after they had appointed elders in every church” Act_14:21-23

Paul to Titus – “set in order what was left undone and appoint elders” Tit_1:6

B. Material needs

1. Tentmaking Act_18:1-4

Paul’s example

1. sought out Aquila

2. shared workspace, perhaps business contacts

3. appears to be self-supporting as well as actively involved in ministry

those who minister

1. have a right to be rewarded 1Co_9:14

2. have a mandate to spread the Gospel 1Co_9:16

3. may be equipped by God to help support themselves 1Co_9:12

4. may choose to be bivocational so as not to burden the church 2Co_11:9; 1Th_2:9; 2Th_3:8

2. Subsidies Php_4:10-18 2Co_11:8-9

Philippians 4:15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.

Paul gratefully acknowledges the fact that the present gift was the continuation of a series of gifts. He mentions something well-known to both the Philippians and himself, namely, that when the Philippian church was in its infancy, having just been established — this was at least a decade ago — then already, in those early days of gospel-proclamation in their region, they, and they alone, had entered into partnership with himself in (and here follows a business-term) an account of expenditures and receipts, that is, an account in which the Philippians were the givers, Paul the receiver. Hendriksen, NTC, Philippians

· Thessalonica and Berea in addition to Philippi

· sacrificial missions giving from the beginning in the Philippian church (est. during 2nd missionary journey, fall 49 – spring 53 AD) 2Co_8:3-5

· other churches came on later to aid in Paul’s support, perhaps during 3rd missionary journey (fall 53 – spring 57 AD)

· enabled him to labor at Corinth (and elsewhere) without burdening the church and leaving them free to help their brothers in Judea 2Co_9:1-5

C. Our part

1. prayer

a. partner with another plant

b. pray for our own doors of opportunity

c. pray for boldness in proclaiming the Gospel

2. personnel

a. to plant

b. to assist/work alongside the planter

3. provisions

a. monetary

b. material

c. muscle

Size, raw numbers, and wealth has little to do with a local church’s ability to support the growth of Christ’s kingdom through church planting. Far more important is the church’s vision to utilize the resources God has entrusted to her. Every local assembly of believers not only is able but should be actively involved in some way in reproducing through church planting.

In October 1796, a church was organized in Limerick, composed of twenty-five members, and Ebenezer Kingman was ordained pastor a short time after its organization. Eld. Kingman was pastor eleven years, during which the church saw days of prosperity, and a net increase of thirty-eight. After his resignation, the church was destitute of a pastor eight years ; and though favored with preaching most of the time, yet the church sustained a net loss in this period of thirteen members (63 members in 1807, 50 in 1815; ed.). Since 1815, the church has had several pastors, but not in immediate succession. Rev. Willard Glover, from 1827, two years ; Rev. Joshua Roberts, from 1832, two years ; Rev. Noah Hooper, from 1837, two years ; Josiah H. Tilton, ordained pastor in April 1840.

Thomas Paul, Benjamin Paul, Jotham Day, Ezra Tomb, Atherton Clark, Alvan Felch, and Obed Walker, have gone forth from this church into the gospel field, to preach Christ to their fellow-men (during the 49 years between 1796 and 1845, ed.). History of the Baptists in Maine, Joshua Millet, 1845

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God’s Means of Revealing Location

A. Great Commission Principle Mat_28:18-20 Mar_16:15-16 Luk_24:46-49 Act_1:8

  1. Jerusalem Acts 3:1-8:1
  2. Judea and Samaria Acts 8:1-12:25
  3. the ends of the earth Acts 13:1-28:31

to be reproduced by every church, treating their location as Jerusalem and radiating outward

existing churches: consider “home” location, e.g., metropolis; is it still in need of more churches to effectively evangelize it because of size, ethnic diversity, etc.? If not, what about neighboring towns? counties? states? countries?

new churches: begin life with a vision for where the next church will be planted; use same considerations as existing churches

B. Closed-door Policy Act_16:6-7

in motion

in general target area

moving beyond the cities already reached toward “the end of the earth”

basic idea is that of spreading the Gospel wherever God will open doors of opportunity

sometimes the method is to try the “doors” and see if they will open; they had found them open in Phrygia and Galatia – cf. the epistle Gal_1:2 1Co_16:1, “the churches of Galatia”; eventually Troas: Act_20:6-7 seems to indicate they had planted a church there on their way through earlier. But, the door to the province of Asia including the area of the “7 churches” was closed. This is one of the ways God makes his specific will known to his people – selectively closing or opening doors of opportunity.

C. Direct Divine Call Act_16:9-10

Paul had the vision, recognized it as such, and as one from the Lord

relied on joint consideration to determine for certain its meaning – included Timothy, Silas and Luke – note the change in pronoun in v. 10 from ‘he’ to ‘us’.

Concluding (sunbibazontes). A very striking word, present active participle of sunbibazō, old verb to make go together, to coalesce or knit together, to make this and that agree and so to conclude. Already in Act. 9:22 of Paul’s preaching. This word here gives a good illustration of the proper use of the reason in connection with revelation, to decide whether it is a revelation from God, to find out what it means for us, and to see that we obey the revelation when understood. God had called them to preach to the Macedonians. They had to go. Robertson’s Word Pictures

Providential hindrances to their ministry had brought them to the seaport of Troas; now the Macedonian vision. Consideration of these factors led them to the reasoned conclusion that they were supposed to go to Macedonia.

When a call to a specific location (or people group) comes from God, it will be apparent to other wise and godly men who will confirm the call. The “vision” will be accompanied by other confirming circumstances that make its proper application and understanding apparent.

D. Target unevangelized locations/people Rom_15:20

1. population centers – Pisidian Antioch, Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome

Paul in obedience to the direction of the Spirit, performed most of his labor in the great urban centers such as Pisidian Antioch, Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome. He would oten bypass the smaller towns in the firm belief that from the larger centers the message would fan outward, as it actually did. Morover, he generally selected those cities where the gospel had not yet been proclaimed by others. William Hendricksen, Survey of the Bible

2. synagogues

“to the Jew first” ???

shared theological base?

1st choice to reform the existing church, then plant a new one?

3. reaching the lost

1st priority the spread of the Gospel

worked to correct doctrinal error in existing churches wherever possible

started a new work when necessary

  • If the Church is to conquer the world for Christ, we must think in terms of multiplying both ourselves (those with a passion for expanding the Kingdom) and Christ’s disciples.
  • It is not enough to think in additive terms or creative rearrangement of existing saints.

  • That means we need more new converts in our existing churches and
  • we need more churches in which new converts can be discipled.

  • Existing churches must be reproducing “reproducing churches”, targeting resources strategically where God opens doors of opportunity.

    Our time, talents, and treasure must be allocated so as to support the planting and growth of healthy churches.

  • Christ is the one building his church by directing his church in the activities necessary for growth.

    We need movement and wisdom – committed energy in motion coupled with the wisdom to rightly know God’s direction for us.

Profile of a Church Planter

A. Pastoral qualifications Act_13:1-3

See 1Ti_3:1-7 Tit_1:6-9 1Pe_5:1-3

Paul and Barnabas were first of all recognized as leaders/elders in a local church

  1. above reproach

  2. husband of one wife

  3. temperate

  4. prudent [sensible]

  5. respectable

  6. hospitable

  7. able to teach

  8. not addicted to wine

  9. not pugnacious

  10. gentle

  11. peaceable

  12. free from the love of money

  13. manages his household well

  14. not a new convert

  15. good reputation with those outside the church

  16. not self-willed

  17. not quick-tempered

  18. lover of what is good

  19. just

  20. devout

  21. self-controlled

  22. holds fast the Word both to exhort and refute

  23. shepherding the flock as an exemplar

B. Vision Act_26:16-18

for what the church could look like – see Ephesians

for what needed to happen to make it look like that Act_26:17-18 Rom_15:20-21

to the Jew first (yes), but to the Gentiles also, and in particular the “unreached”

for ways to enable others to do what he could not Act_16:6 & Act_19:10

train pastors to reach Asia, territory forbidden to Paul

C. Passion Act_17:16 Act_18:5

exasperated with idolatry – burned with anger

wholly absorbed with the task of preaching

like the prophet Jeremiah: Sometimes I think, “I will make no mention of his message. I will not speak as his messenger any more.” But then his message becomes like a fire locked up inside of me, burning in my heart and soul. I grow weary of trying to hold it in and I just cannot do it.” NET Jer_20:9

determination to advance the cause of Christ regardless of personal cost 2Co_11:23-27

D. Organization

bringing structure by appointing elders Act_14:23 Tit_1:5

viewed a “structure-less” church as lacking something significant

bringing assistance by fund-raising Act_24:17

balancing work and ministry Act_18:3-4 Act_20:34-35

E. Maturity

nearly 15 years of training and ministry after conversion – Gal_1:17-18 Gal_2:1 Act_11:26

ability to:

handle conflict Act_15:1-2 Act_15:39-40

withstand opposition Act_14:2 Act_14:19 Act_19:9

exercise discernment:

in organizing new churches

evangelizing in different contexts

addressing doctrinal issues – cf. the Pauline epistles

F. Reproducing 2Ti_2:2

Titus 2Co_8:23 Act_15:2 (included in “certain others of them” per Gal_2:3)

Silas Act_15:40

Timothy Act_16:1-3 Php_2:22

Erastus Act_19:22

Epaphroditus Php_2:25

Models of Church Planting

A. Mother-daughter Act_8:4-8 Act_11:19-24

  • Core groups spun off from the Jerusalem church because of persecution

  • gathered more disciples around them where they settled

    1. Same culture Act_11:19
      preaching …to no one but Jews only
    2. Cross-cultural Act_11:20
      some of those who where scattered, men born in Cyprus and Cyrene, spoke to the Greeks
    3. churches established Act_11:22-23
      sent from the church, saw the grace of God, encouraged them to continue
      church in Antioch organized with 5 “elders” when Paul and Barnabas were commissioned
  • the basic structure and probably a sizeable congregation remained in Jerusalem after the mini-diaspora; the apostles and elders presided at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15

  • contemporary implementation

  1. members from a neighborhood distant from the mother church form the core group for a daughter church in their own location

  2. members form a core group for a daughter church and target a neighborhood distant from the mother church; may include change of residence for the core group

  3. this model is well-suited to a cooperative effort among sister churches who each provide from their resources

B. Pioneering Act_16:9-14 see also Rom_15:20

  1. planting team – Paul, Silas and Timothy Act_15:40 Act_16:3
    Paul and Barnabas – elders of a local church before they were sent out

    followed previous “path” revisiting Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra & Antioch in Pisidia; from there it seems they were seeking places to minister but had no goal other than wherever there was need and opportunity

  2. called to minister in Macedonia, a general region not a specific place Act_16:9
    no core group, only the planters
  3. Philippi, the first city without a synagogue Act_16:13
  4. no knowledge of any interest, any God-understanding, simply a divine call Act_16:9-10 followed by the opportunity
  • contemporary implementation

  1. the sending church identifies and commissions a planting team to establish a church in a particular location or region

  2. the location is determined by

  • the planter’s individual call –or
  • the sending church’s assessment of need; e.g., identifying an unevangelized or under-evangelized city or neighborhood

C. Church split Act_19:1 Act_19:7-10

  1. began in the synagogue, attempting to reform it Act_19:8
  2. didn’t try to take over, took believing followers and left Act_19:9
    1. group was large enough to provoke dissension but not a majority
  3. two-pronged approach to subsequent ministry

    1. established a Christian church – see Rev_2:1 – first in the list of churches on purpose?
    2. founded a “school of church planting” Act_19:9-10
    3. church was self-propagating from its inception

  • contemporary implementation

  1. a church is in the process of reforming and reaches a decision point; the “vote” indicates lack of broad consensus; one group leaves to start a new church

  2. a doctrinally declining or unsound church has a group of members who desire to restore doctrinal purity; after meeting long-term resistance they leave to begin a new work

  3. obviously there are numerous other reasons churches split but few if any have biblical warrant; the abovementioned are biblically warranted if not explicitly modeled

D. Bible study Act_18:1-3 Act_18:7-11 Act_18:19-26 Rom_16:3-5 1Co_16:19

  1. Priscilla and Aquila had the model from both Corinth and Ephesus Act_18:7-11 1Co_16:19
    the Bible study Paul started in Corinth in Justus’ home “next door to the synagogue”

    the church that perhaps Paul started that met in their home in Ephesus

  2. they were accustomed to providing doctrinal instruction in their home Act_18:26
  3. they hosted a house-church again after they returned to Rome Rom_16:3-5
  • contemporary implementation

  1. a member hosts a home Bible study, inviting nearby friends and neighbors for the purpose of potentially forming a core group

  2. the core group transitions from Bible study to worship service mode

  3. the Bible study leader becomes the planting pastor –or-
  4. a man with church planting gifts is sought to continue the work in the next phase

Pressure Builds

Acts 6:8 – 8:4

Peter – Sermon 1: Jesus is the promised Messiah (fulfillment of prophecy)

Peter – Sermon 2: Jesus is the Holy One (his deity)

Stephen – Defense: Jesus is the “Shadow-maker” All the Old Testament rituals and covenants pointed toward Christ.

A. Miracle-worker set up 6:8-7:1

· Theological disagreement – v. 11

1. what place does the temple have in the “new economy”

2. does the law still apply

· Purchase of false testimony

3. the truth doesn’t need paid witnesses

4. accused of blasphemy (speaking evil) against the temple and the law

5. indirect offense against God and Moses

· Incitement to lynch (threw into a commotion, RWP)

6. the (common) people

7. the elders

8. the scribes

B. Mighty witness speaks 7:2-7:53

· There will be

1. a land v.5

2. deliverance v.7

3. a sign v.8

4. a Prophet v.37

5. a place of worship vv.44, 47, 48

· You have placed your confidence in the wrong thing

6. Canaan, not heaven

7. from Egypt, not sin

8. circumcision of the flesh, not the heart

9. the tabernacle or temple, not the world

· You have rejected the prophets, the Prophet and the law

10. You worshiped idols vv.40-44

11. Your ancestors killed the prophets v.52

12. You killed the Redeemer v.52

13. You do not keep the law v.53

14. All in the face of the Holy Spirit’s witness v.51

So what’s the bottom line? God has always had the worldwide church under the headship of Christ in mind; everything in history up to the point of Stephen’s trial had either foreshadowed it or paved the way for it. The full sweep of history (linear, not cyclical) has its culmination in “God’s eternal purpose to gather into one the whole created universe by reconciling His creatures to Himself and to each other, a purpose He is working out through Christ in the church and ultimately to the praise of His glory.” The problem Stephen’s opponents had was their outward reliance on the form rather than what it signified.

C. Martyr stoned 7:54-60

· The mob’s response

1. enraged in the same way as the Sanhedrin ( Act_5:33 )

2. behaved like animals

3. refused to hear the truth

4. took the law in their own hands (lynch mob) – no execution the same day as the conviction

· Stephen’s strength

5. full of the Holy Spirit & wisdom ( Act_6:3 ), full of faith and the Holy Spirit ( Act_6:5 ), full of the Holy Spirit ( Act_7:55 )

“In Acts 6:8 Stephen possesses grace and power from God in abundant measure (cf. 6:3, 5). This is a permanent endowment, but a special grace is perhaps denoted in 7:55.” TDNT

6. vision of God and the exalted Christ v.56

7. total confidence in God v.59

8. spirit of forgiveness v.60

D. Members scattered 8:1-4

· Persecuting

“The ‘Synagogue of the Freedmen’ was the source of the antagonism. Out of the many synagogues in Jerusalem, this one was attended by Hellenistic Jews from the Diaspora.

‘Freedmen’ in the first century were slaves or descendants of slaves who had gained their release. The name of this synagogue implies that the freedmen were Jews who previously had lived in Cyrene or Alexandria in Northern Africa, or in the provinces of Cilicia [southeast Turkey] and Asia [northwest Turkey]. Quite frequently Jews moved from these areas around the Roman Empire and took up residence in Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul, for example, was a Cilician Jew who may well have participated with this synagogue.” College Press NT Commentary on Acts 6:9

Persecution could have been primarily against Hellenistic Jews who “defected” from the faith. Not all believers left Jerusalem – “devout men” who buried Stephen, the apostles who were excepted from the blanket statement.

· Ravaging

In Septuagint, Psa_79:13, it is used of the laying waste of a vineyard by the wild boar. VWS

Canon [of Westminster] Farrar [and chaplain to the Queen] observes: “The part which he played at this time in the horrid work of persecution has, I fear, been always underrated. It is only when we collect the separate passages – they are no less than eight in number – in which allusion is made to this sad period, it is only when we weigh the terrible significance of the expressions used that we feel the load of remorse which must have lain upon him, and the taunts to which he was liable from malignant enemies. He ‘made havoc of’ – literally, ‘he was ravaging’ – the church.” (“Life and Work of St. Paul”, p. 172). Quoted in Vincent Word Studies

Act_8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Act_9:1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest.

Act_9:21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”

Act_22:3-4 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,

Act_26:9-11 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

1Co_15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Gal_1:13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

Php_3:6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

1Ti_1:13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

· Scattering

See Act_11:19 for a description of where they went

“These Christians traveled northward to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. The Phoenician plain ran some 125 miles north from the plain of Dor (south of Mt. Carmel) to the Eleutheros River. On its west was the Mediterranean Sea and Phoenicia reached inland only about fifteen miles to the mountains of Lebanon and Galilee. Chief cities in Phoenicia included Tyre, Sidon, Ptolemais, and Zarephath. The island of Cyprus lay about 100 miles off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean.

Antioch was the third largest city of the Empire (behind Rome and Alexandria), boasting a population of 500,000. Because of its location as the hinge which joined together the eastern and western Roman empire, Antioch was truly a cosmopolitan city.” College Press NT Commentary, Acts 11:19

If it weren’t for persecution, ravaging and scattering, the church would have remained in Jerusalem and not been obedient to Christ’s commission.

· Preaching

More properly, evangelizing or announcing the good news of the Word. Here in v. 4 ???????????? , euaggelizo?, is used rather than ???????? , ke?russo?, or preach as in v. 5. The emphasis is more on the content of the proclamation rather than the method; thus, the idea that evangelizing is not limited to ordained pastors but can and should be characteristic of all within the church.

“…it is a suggestive fact that this word is only used once in the other Gospels (Mat_11:5 by our Lord), but no less than ten times in St. Luke’s Gospel, fifteen in Acts, and chiefly elsewhere by St. Paul; truly “a missionary word,”, see ver. 12. Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 79, speaks of its introduction into the N. T. with “such a novel force as to be felt like a new word”.” Expositors Greek Testament

“There is no evidence, nor is there any probability, that all these persons were “ordained” to preach. They were manifestly common Christians who were scattered by the persecution; and the meaning is, that they communicated to their fellow-men in conversation wherever they met them, and probably in the synagogues, where all Jews had a right to speak, the glad tidings that the Messiah had come. It is not said that they set themselves up for public teachers, or that they administered baptism, or that they founded churches, but they proclaimed everywhere the news that a Saviour had come. Their hearts were full of it. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; and they made the truth known to “all” whom they met. We may learn from this:

(1) That persecution tends to promote the very thing which it would destroy.

(2) that one of the best means to make Christians active and zealous is to persecute them.

(3) that it is right for all Christians to make known the truths of the gospel. When the heart is full the lips will speak, and there is no more impropriety in their speaking of redemption than of anything else.

(4) it should be the great object of all Christians to make the Saviour known “everywhere.” By their lives, their conversation, and their pious exhortations and entreaties, they should beseech dying sinners to be reconciled to God. And especially should this be done when they “are traveling.” Christians when away from home seem almost to imagine that they lay aside the obligations of religion. But the example of Christ and his early disciples has taught us that this is the very time to attempt to do good.” Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament