Making Disciples by Planting Churches
This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach.
Making Disciples by Planting Churches
The stated mission of our church is a summary of the Great Commission: to make disciples who make disciples. There are many strategies for making disciples, but only one has consistently resulted in multiplication: church planting. This does not mean that all other strategies are worthless or counterproductive (though some are). Efforts to grow existing churches, public preaching, practical or humanitarian acts of service, friendship evangelism, etc., all have a place in the life of the church and the individual believer. But for the enterprise of making and nurturing new disciples, nothing has been more effective, throughout the history of the faith, than the planting of new churches. Most of the apostles of the early church had peripatetic ministries, but they were not simply itinerant preachers. They organized new converts into local bodies which took over the work of reaching the community. Almost 2,000 years on, the priority of church planting remains the same: It is simply the most fruitful and faithful way to make disciples and fulfill the Great Commission.
Planting new churches is exciting for a number of reasons:
Planting churches multiplies the contact points that a community has with the body of Christ. It creates the need for more leaders and the opportunity for those with leadership gifts to exercise them. Church planting injects a sense of urgency to our efforts to train and mobilize leaders for the harvest.
Planting churches helps to purify motives and realign our priorities with God’s. It flows from a heart of stewardship rather than ownership. A church that plants wants to spread His kingdom rather than build its own empire. Church planting involves sacrifice: the willingness to relinquish those gifts and resources that the Lord has vouchsafed to us. In most cases, it involves releasing our first fruits and best people.
Planting churches allows us to have an impact on communities of people who are otherwise outside of our reach. These are not people who are simply geographically distant, but those who are socio-economically, ethnically, linguistically, or culturally separated from us. It recognizes that the world is not reached by a “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality, but that the spirit of the Great Commission is to go.
And church planting allows us to dream big. What is the most we can hope for? With a seating capacity of 900 in our building, what is the limit to our ambition? Two or three thousand? With church planting, there is no ceiling to what can be accomplished if the Spirit of the Lord is in it.
To this end, we are beginning a new partnership with a church that has the goal of reaching one million people for Christ by 2022–through church planting. Bringing 1,000,000 people to Christ seems an unrealistically ambitious goal unless you consider the mathematics of planting churches that plant other churches. The new church that we are supporting, Gaborone Chapel in Botswana, is being started by planters trained at Nairobi Chapel in Kenya. This church is being planted “pregnant;” that is, it will be prepared to begin reproducing itself in a very short period of time. The goal for this church is to plant ten churches all over Botswana with a total of 10,000 disciples by 2025. We will provide half of the operating budget for this church for its first two years as it gets itself off the ground. We will also provide other kinds of help that they need to make an impact in their community. In the spirit of true partnership, we will not only give but receive. We will have the opportunity to participate in church planting from the ground up and learn valuable lessons to apply closer to home. We hope to send our own interns to work with Nairobi Chapel and bring back the experience and knowledge they gain there.
It is our hope that this is but the beginning of our foray into this exciting realm of church planting, and we will wait to see how God chooses to use us in this work, locally as well as globally.