by Rev. Bener Agtarap New Church Strategist
Church planting is a worthwhile endeavor because the goals extend beyond congregational growth or denominational advancement. By reaching out to more people that will become disciples of Jesus Christ, church planting gives meaning and relevance in the life of a faith community and creates vitality. We know that every local church has a unique gift to offer for the transformation of the world and that a deeper commitment to fruitfulness in mission from using that gift will help faith communities thrive and change the world.
The book of Acts records the testimonies of the early churches' obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Following the Spirit, the early believers proclaimed the Gospel without fear and lived out the good news mostly outside the four walls of the church. To both the leadership and worshipers in these newborn Christian congregations, spreading the Gospel of Christ by organizing house churches, forming prayer cell groups, performing miracles, teaching, and starting new churches were all done in obedience to God and with the authority of the Spirit.
It is very important for the leadership of a new church to plant a theology of mission in every leadership team, small group, and all ministries of the church. For the call of the Risen Christ to all the believers is clear.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8).
What would the Christian church look like in the United States if its leaders and members were witnesses? The churches in China, the Philippines, and many countries in Africa grew because their theology, organization, and model of the church were based upon their belief that starting new churches bring vitality to the church and tremendous contribution to the building of the reign of God.
The call to the church is to reproduce more new witnesses who will passionately engage the world in the love of God. The expectation for every believer from Christ is that "you will be my witness." The church, as a community of faithful witnesses to the Gospel, releases the power of the Spirit by faithfully obeying the direction of the Spirit and simply following the mission of God on the basis of the ministry and mission of Jesus.
Jesus' invitation is direct and simple. "Follow me." In Acts 1:8, Jesus made it even clear that we are to “be my witnesses." The early followers of Jesus understood that the Gospel message should not be kept to themselves, but proclaimed over and over again to many people and to many places as much as possible. New believers formed a teaching, preaching, healing, caring, nurturing, and sending-out faith community that in turn started even more new churches and faith communities. As a result, we saw a rapid multiplication of new churches that in faithful obedience to the Spirit of the Risen Christ planted new churches.
As a leader, what might you do to encourage church multiplication in your faith community? How is your church living out the Great Commission and following the leadings of the Holy Spirit to plant new churches?