That’s right, I’m getting out of the business of starting churches. The reasons are simple, but they have taken me until the past few months to grasp:
- Jesus never told us to plant churches. He said that He would build His church. (Matt. 16:18)
- Jesus did tell us to make disciples. (Matt. 28:18-20)
Part of making proper disciples is teaching them to come together in community, living out what it means to be the Body of Christ. This involves obeying all the “one another” commands of the New Testament. So if we do a good job of evangelism and discipleship, the natural result of that will be new churches springing up – new communities of faith. But that part is the work of Jesus. He said so.
This has been a very freeing realization for me as a church planter (wait, an ex-church planter). In the past several months, I worried a lot about what the structure of the churches we planted would look like. We would love to see an awesome network of house churches spring up in our region of southern Mexico, so we had been trying to figure out how they would be linked together, what authority would look like, etc. Our church planting coach, Rob, set me straight by basically saying, “Hey, don’t worry about it. You just organically network new believers and groups by giving them opportunities to befriend one another, and rest assured that they will define the structure at some point.” And you know, I can see that Rob is right. We missionaries and church planters can get off track worrying about things that aren’t ours to worry about. Jesus told us to make disciples, that’s the command we have to obey, and the rest we can leave up to Him.
I’ll still call it church planting, I suppose, just because that’s a widely understood term, but whenever I speak of it you can know that what I really mean is that we’re making disciples and God is working through us to start churches.
Any other church planters want to join me in walking off the job?