What is the Heart of Church Planting

What is the Heart of Church Planting is an analysis of what church planting really is, and how it is very costly.

When we discuss church planting, some people (not everybody) have perverted ideas about just what it is. For them, they need a church because they want to “feel saved” or “feel spiritual” but they don’t want personal obligations in relation to it. This is especially if these obligations to a “church” puts them out or costs them a lot personally.

The truth of the matter is that so many people in Christianity want “church” to be a social club that is comfortable to them. You can tell this is their concept of “church” because in these people’s minds, the key ingredient of a church, which is evangelism, the gospel, is greatly missing. They personally are not going to go out into the highways and byways of life and confront other people, especially socially their friends, with the gospel of Christ. This was how Christ walked through life, confronting every single person that he could with the gospel, with the Savior.

When you look at the dedication of church people, normal Christians, to the task of evangelism, 1) they are not committed to it, and very little do they even do it. 2) They do not dedicate finances nor resources towards that singular task which is really church planting. You cannot plant a church if there are no new people saved. It would be better named church robbing of members from one group to form another competing church.

New churches founded from stolen members

Nowhere in Scripture do we really see that this was ever “a thing” that Christ commanded nor did his disciples do. Contrary to this, they went unto the unsaved and convinced them of the gospel. That is very different. Their targets for building new churches were never to persuaded people already saved and good members in a good church that teaches the true gospel to change churches. It was always founded on a break from their pagan beliefs about the gospel and salvation.

Church planting, in the biblical sense, has to be founded on evangelism of the unsaved. That is the heart of missions. Without the key element of the gospel being presented to the unsaved, there is no force behind church planting.

New churches are founded because somebody sacrifices greatly

Along with the idea of some individuals are sacrificing their social relationships by using them to witness the gospel of Scripture to the unsaved, there are some people who also pay great prices to see a new church built. Yes, many new church plants are begun in somebody’s home, or in a store front or other cheaply rented place. But buildings that are owned by the church for their own use has to be at a great price. There has to be somebody who pays this price.

We should not lose sight of what Scripture teaches overall here. First, sheep reproduce sheep. That means EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF A CHURCH SHOULD BE WITNESSING OR at least inviting other people to come to church with them. Secondly, God says the church is like a body, with different members working differently as to their God-given talents.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Just as not everybody in a church is an apostle (missionary) nor a prophet (preacher) nor a pastor nor teacher, not everybody is an evangelist either. That does not mean that sheep don’t reproduce after their kind. They do. It is just that the highly active evangelist should be doing more than most people.

There are also some people in other churches that are marginally good that will see your new church as being nearer or in some aspect more desirable than where they were going and will join your church over time. But that is not the thrust of evangelism in any good church. It is a consequence of being better. Some will stay where they are because “that church is better” in their understanding.

Biblical Church Growth

But the evangelism that we are talking about up to this point is the how that new members are added to the church, or church growth. Churches do not grow by programs of promotion where we give away candy, microwave ovens, etc. They grow because people get saved. Truly saved. This is much, much more than making a profession of faith in Jesus in the street and never getting baptized nor attending and joining the church.

Biblical church growth is a joining of new people to the core of central workers in the ministry. That means more people to preach, teach, and go out witnessing. More prayer warriors. If this is not happening within those who make a new profession of faith in Jesus Christ, then there is no real church growth. There has to be more workers doing the spiritual activity of what is church. This base of key workers has to be growing. They should not be growing because the church has money and is paying salaries for more of these peoples (sure that too happens) but rather because there are more and more volunteers among the church’s base of members volunteering to do that work voluntarily.

Church growth is not measured very well on a board of attendance then. It is measured by those praying more and more intensive praying, as well as more going out witnessing. Those “more” who are volunteering to tend to the babies, children, and teens by teaching them. Those who are actively cleaning the church for free.

A Church is a Religious Community

Once we have the founding base of evangelism firmly in our minds, then we turn to the church growing as far as tending to the spiritual needs of those who are its members. People have spiritual needs all the time. Identifying these needs and individuals spiritually gifted by God to tend to these needs are the activity of a true church.

To plant a new church, you need to do the activities at the heart of a church. Jesus asked Peter, if you love me, tend my sheep. Our love for Jesus is seen by our devotion, our commitment, and our duty in tending to the church of Christ.

In any biblical church there has to be two twin forces that are constantly there, and forcefully there. The first of these is biblical evangelism, and the second of these forces is preaching that is against sin, (against the sins of the people who are part of the church) producing repentance among the church people.

It is extremely important to understand just what a “church” is. It is a group of people called out of paganism (so these are truly saved people) for the purposes of God. These purposes of God is the work of God. The church identifies with and centers its life around Jesus Christ. The church is what teaches the saved morality. When the church shifts its efforts or the fruits of its labors from teaching biblical morality to teaching biblical facts and figures, it has lost its mission and is useless. Most churches today only teach information about the Bible. They do not teach morality.

Teaching Morality

In order for any church to teach morality, it has to teach information from the Bible. But if these teachings from the Bible lack a constant application, if they lack a real “use” in the person’s daily life, then that information is useless in forming and building morality in that Christian’s life. Everything the church does at that point becomes a hypocritical ceremony without real moral application. We see this with the Catholic church, the Anglican church, the Orthodox church, and unfortunately with the Presbyterian church, the Methodist church, and even the Baptist church of today. They are teaching information that does not change their members to make them more like Jesus. They are just knowledgeable sinners. They are experts at hypocrisy.

What is the Heart of Church Planting

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Pastor David Cox is a missionary. See my ministry updates here.