Churches Planting Churches

Churches Planting Churches

Jun 29, 2015

Churches Planting Churches

Reprinted with permission:
Ken Davis, D.Min., Project Jerusalem Director

America has an estimated 200 million lost and unchurched people. Yet today there are far fewer churches per capita than one hundred years ago. Many missiologists contend that the best way to fulfill the Great Commission and to evangelize is by means of church planting. Intentionally parenting a daughter church is one of the best ways to reach the unchurched. It is often far easier to plant a new church than to revitalize a dying one.

Yet it is insufficient to plant new churches for pragmatic and demographic reasons. We must be driven by Scripture. There is a solid biblical imperative for established churches taking the initiative to intentionally reproduce themselves.

The Creation Mandate

From the beginning, the Creator designed all healthy organisms with the capacity and desire to reproduce. God’s purpose for all living creatures was clear: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:22, 28). Multiplication was the sign and substance of God’s blessing. Each group was commanded to “bring forth” (reproduce) “after its kind.” Since the church is a living organism, God’s creative plan requires that it too continually reproduce itself. Thus, church parenting is natural.

The Commission of Christ

The Great Commission strategy of Christ is actually a spiritual multiplication mandate. He expects his followers to make and multiply disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). His method for accomplishing this objective is evangelism, baptism, catechism, and congregationalism. Christ’s disciple-making plan is to be carried out through the agency of the local church. Thus, to obey his mandate, if there is no congregation in a nearby community, we must start one. That is the story of the book of Acts: When people were saved, they were added to the church (2:42-47). Christ’s call is for both individual and corporate reproduction. Thus, church parenting is biblical.

The Pattern of the Early Church

The book of Acts shows how the apostles and first Christians carried out the last command of Christ. The historical record shows they reached their world through intentional

church multiplication. When God’s people obeyed their marching orders, three things are said to have “multiplied” — the Word of God (Acts 6:7; 12:24), the number of disciples (6:1), and the number of churches regionally (9:31).

At each of these marker points in Acts, multiplication is the end result. The same Greek word is used for “multiply” in each of these references — plēthunō. This word speaks not just of adding to the church (Acts 2:47) but of exponential increase. It is a mark of the work of the Spirit of God. Luke shows how the church started by Jesus continues to expand as the Holy Spirit works through the disciples. This expansion is geographic, but growth is quantitative, qualitative, and organic. Luke is recording for believers of every age what the church should look like.

Throughout Acts, the spread of the gospel and the expansion of the church are intertwined. Acts 16:5 summarizes the rapid expansion: “So were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” They started with one church in Jerusalem; now there were many through multiplication. Thus, in Acts, church parenting is seen as normal —not the exception.

Dandelion flower desing design

Two Examples

The Antioch church is a fine example of an intentional mother church sending out its best, Barnabas and Saul, to do the Great Commission work of evangelistic church planting in pioneer areas (Acts 13:1-3).

Intentional church reproduction is best seen in the Ephesian church. Using the school of Tyrannus as his regional training base, Paul evidently mentored and sent about fifteen leaders to plant at least six daughter churches in Asia Minor so that the entire region “heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19-20; Rev. 2-3). Epaphras, one of his disciples, started the church at Colossae. Evidently, Ephesus became the mother church of all the churches of Asia Minor.

The True Fruit of a Church

An analogy might help. Let’s ask: “What is the true fruit of an apple tree?” Many would say, “It’s an apple, of course.” But that is wrong. The true fruit of an apple tree is another apple tree!

The true fruit of a small group is not a new Christian, but another group. The true fruit of an evangelist is not a convert, but new evangelists. The true fruit of a leader is not followers, but new leaders. Likewise, the true fruit of a church is not a new group, or more new believers, but another church!

Roland Allen in his classic missions text, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, echoes this insight: “When the Church is truly alive, spontaneous multiplication takes place, and spontaneous expansion of the church involves not merely multiplication of Christians but the multiplication of churches.”

Conclusion & Application

Church planting is not just the latest popular church fad. Birthing daughter churches is a thoroughly biblical concept. It is based upon God’s original creation mandate, Christ’s final commission to his Church, and the example of the early church. Healthy churches reproduce! In Scripture it is natural, biblical, and normal.

Pastors and church leaders: make no mistake. Developing a culture of church multiplication will likely be one of the most challenging — yet rewarding — assignments you’ll undertake.

Reprinted with permission:

Ken Davis, D.Min., Project Jerusalem Director

Baptist Bible Seminary

538 Venard Road, Clarks Summit, PA 18411

T. 570.585.9269 | F. 570.585.4057

C. 570.466.4824 |

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