Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


A Biblical Philosophy of Church Planting

  • Bob Larson
  • Aug 22, 2011

As I write this article, I would like to pay tribute to Dr. Bob McKeever. It was Dr. McKeever's teaching and material that helped me to fully understand the Biblical Philosophy of Church Planting. Bro.McKeever has recently graduated to heaven and many of the thoughts I will share with you in this article were given to me by him. I will try to write this article as he would have wanted it written.In Acts 1:8 the Bible states, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." If we are going to be involved in starting New Testament churches we must understand what a New Testament church is. A simple definition would be that the New Testament Church is an organized body of saved and baptized believers united together for the main purpose of carrying out the great commission. The Great Commission is stated five times in the New Testament. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-47; John 20:21 and Acts 1;8.

When you study these verses it is plain to see that the church is under orders today to go with the gospel. The church today must understand that the Great Commission is not the great suggestion or the great option nor is it a choice. It is a direct command from our Lord and Saviour. Every New Testament church has been commissioned to go into the all the world with the Gospel. It is not something that the local church would have to vote on. It is a command that the local church must obey.

Every member of the local New Testament church is to be a missionary who takes the gospel to a lost world. Let me point out that the word "missionary" is not a Bible word but the concept certainly is a Bible concept. Just like the word "rapture" is not a Bible word yet the scripture teaches us that there will come a day when those that are alive and know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.(I Thes. 4:17) Another example would be the word "Trinity." You will not find this word in scripture, but the Word of God teaches that our God is a triune being and this concept can be found throughout the Bible. Consider three very descriptive New Testament words that would help us to understand what a missionary is and what he does. The first word would be apostle. The definition of an apostle would be a sent one. It comes from the Latin word "missio." The Bible states in John 20:21, "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." The second word that would describe what a missionary is would be the word ambassador. An ambassador is one who represents a sovereign to another country. In II Corinthians 5:20 we find this verse, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ..." The third Bible word that describes what a missionary is and does would be the word witness. A witness is one who tells the truth. "Speaking the truth in love." Eph. 4:15.

In Acts 1:8 the church was instructed by the Lord Jesus Christ as to where they were to witness. The Lord told the church to go to Jerusalem. This was where they lived and functioned on a daily basis. They were also told to go to Judea. Judea was the area that encompassed Jerusalem. It was made up of cities and towns that were close at hand such as Bethlehem, Jericho and Damascus. Our Lord also included Samaria. Keep in mind that to reach Samaria, the church would have to reach out cross culturally to people who did not have the same ethnic background as they possessed. They were also instructed to witness to the uttermost part of the earth.

There are three key words found in Acts 1:8 that help us to better understand the Great Commission. Power would be one key word to consider when studying this passage. It's not always easy to serve the Lord, but it is impossible to serve Him without Holy Spirit power. We must have God's power upon our lives. There can be no lasting results without the power of God. No lasting salvation decisions, no revival, no victory, and no effective witness. Jesus stated in John 15:5, "For without Me ye can do nothing." Witness can also be considered as a key word in understanding this passage. A witness is one who bears witness with his life and is willing to die to get the message out. It certainly involves sacrifice. Then there is the little word both. This word both is what we could call the forgotten word in missions today. The Lord was not giving the church a progressive plan in Acts 1:8. It was a simultaneous plan. Every area mentioned was to be evangelized at the same time. No area was to be excluded. In other words, we don't evangelize one area to the exclusion of the other. Therefore, the main mission of the local New Testament church is missions and our mission field is the world. It is not a method but rather it is the method! To quote James Weber, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." All of us will one day give an account before God concerning what we have done with the Great Commission.

If the main mission of the local New Testament church is missions then there should be a two fold goal in mission work. Why have goals when it comes to mission work? Goals help us determine the path we take. Goals help us evaluate our progress. The first goal of missions is evangelism. Notice the following scriptures. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:16) "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21) J. Herbert Kane said, "Missionary work that does not include evangelism is not missionary work at all." We are to preach to reach individuals. Biblical preaching needs to be clear, plain and without compromise.

The second goal of missions is planting churches. The reason church planting is vital to missions is that "Baptize" is the second part of the Great Commission and baptism is a local church ordinance. The responsibility of baptizing the new convert has not been given to individuals but it has been given to the church. Our immediate objective of missions is to reach the lost and the ultimate objective or long range objective of missions is to plant churches. As indispensable as evangelism is to missions, it is incomplete without the formation of local churches. The church is the primary agent in God's plan to reconcile mankind to himself. In Acts 16:5 the Bible states, "And so were the churches established in the faith and increased in number daily." Our part is to walk by faith and obey, trust and believe God. God's part is to give the increase. Planting churches involves sowing seed and the seed is the Word of God. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Peter 1:23) The church planter must sow the seed of the Word of God but God will cause the seed to grow. Paul stated "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (I Cor. 3:6)