Not unlike today’s churches, church planting in the Bible was built on evangelism, discipleship and training.
Of course there was church planting in the Bible, but it looked very different from our methods today. Though, just because church planting did not include facility leases and curb signage does not mean it wasn’t happening. And not only did it happen, it was the method by which God chose to expand His group of followers.
Keep reading and explore with us the core components of church planting in the Bible and how it translates into today’s world. Stick around until the end and you’ll see how our portable church plants embody these principles in their own unique ways.
What acts demonstrate church planting in the Bible?
1. Establishment of a local body of believers
The most popular church planter in the scriptures is the apostle Paul. He spent his adult years traveling through areas establishing local bodies of believers.
Though popular counts attribute around 14 churches to Paul, an article by Neil Cole on churchplanting.com says:
“…there are some churches started that were not necessarily mentioned as churches in the New Testament… He probably started close to 20 churches himself, with many more born out of those by his apprentice leaders.”
Here’s one example of his church planting work from the Bible:
“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” Acts 14:21–23
All of the components of church planting are seen here—evangelism, conversions, discipling, and encouraging. Nothing new to us in the 21st century, right?
2. Sharing of the message
Evangelizing is a critical purpose of planting a church. Sometimes this word takes on a negative context—one that conjures up feelings of pressure. But the heart of evangelism is compassion and care and, as Paul puts it, an inability to NOT share the good news. 1 Corinthians 9:16 says:
“For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
He was obeying Jesus’ command from Acts 1:8 by acting as a “witness”:
“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.”
There’s no doubt that evangelizing was part of life for these believers—inside and outside of the faith gathering.
Valuable lessons: How Rejection Develops Flexibility in Church Planting
3. Discipleship of believers
Through discipleship, we discover who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him. The very purpose is to become more like Him! Through this refining process, we learn to love our brothers and sisters in the faith and grow in maturity and wisdom.
Paul says it this way:
“Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)
And just in case that’s not convincing enough, let us recall the very words of Jesus:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Conversions open the door, but discipleship is the road that takes us on incredible journeys of faith and hope in Christ. Church planting in the Bible is clear on this point.
Have you read Luke’s words on the cost of being a disciple lately? Find it in Luke 14: 25-35.
4. Training of leaders
Once individuals have become disciples of Jesus and have matured in the faith, some are appointed to take on leadership roles within the establishment. Read the words of Titus 1:5:
“The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.”
Church life included organization and order within the establishment. Eventually, those bodies of believers would then spearhead additional church plants, and the work would continue.
Out of these efforts, an entire movement was propelled and—of course—is still going strong today.Like today, church life thousands of years ago included organization and order within the establishment. They were onto something—with a good foundation in place, those bodies spearheaded additional churches, and the work continued. Sound familiar? Click To Tweet
3 Looks at Biblical Church Planting Being Reflected in Churches Today
1. Training leaders at Northridge Church in Rochester, New York
In this podcast, church leader Nate Miller talks about the lessons learned from training leaders and launching campuses as a 125 year old church!
2. Evangelism within the community at Celebration Church in New Orleans
John Frady is in leadership at Celebration Church in New Orleans. In this interview, he reflects on how their church is reaching out to the community and how being a portable multisite church has helped them go further, faster.
3. Discipling believers at NorthRidge Church in Michigan
We had a blast helping NorthRidge Church go multisite. In addition to sharing the gospel message and training leaders, we get excited to see churches put an emphasis on discipleship.
At NorthRidge in particular, attendees have several opportunities to grow in their faith, including care and affinity groups, classes, and service options. (Hear about this extra large church’s journey to multisite and their experience going portable in this fascinating interview.)
CHURCH PLANTING IN THE BIBLE LOOKED NOT UNLIKE TODAY’S CHURCHES
How cool is it to see the thread of church planting connect today’s emerging churches to the ones that were born out of Paul’s work thousands of years ago?
Our methods have (and should!) changed greatly, but our message remains constant: To know Christ and to make Him known.
How is your church making that happen? Share your ideas with us!
Want to make sure these timeless church planting principles are reflected in your church? Book a free 20-minute call with one of our experts and we can point you in the right direction. We’d love to help.