Last week we unpacked the first third of the definition of church planting as espoused by Dr. Mike Dodson. I took the definition, turned it into a haiku, and simultaneously chased all remaining readers away by waxing poetic about church planting. For those still reading, thank you for being the salt of the earth and (poetically?) loving the Great Commission and church planting!
The definition in total is “The team process of communicating the gospel, seeing people repent and believe in Jesus, developing as His followers, congregationalizing, and repeating the process.” Picking up from where we left off, this week we will unpack “seeing people repent and believe in Jesus” as a part of defining church planting. Once the team is formed and the destination chosen, it’s time for the gospel to be communicated, and the gospel being communicated has a goal: to see people repent and believe in Jesus.
Here is what we know from Scripture: Isaiah 55:11 says “so My word that comes from my mouth will not return empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” In context, this verse is referring to God’s call to Israel to return to him and his promise that His name will be everlasting (Is. 55:13). When you read Isaiah’s prophecy in conjunction with 2 Corinthians 9:10 and 13 it helps bring the focus even closer to sharing the gospel: “They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service (2 Cor. 9:13).” Explicitly, what Paul is saying the Corinthian’s service led others to glorify God. Implicitly, I think Paul is saying God furthers His good news through the service AND confession of the church.
Full disclosure, I cringe at proof-texting. That last paragraph I hope is as close I ever come to arguing a text isogetically. But I think the totality of Scripture lends itself to the reality that God advances his mission, and blesses those that worship him in word and truth. The advancement of the gospel has a very specific hope for the hearer; that they would repent and believe in Jesus (Acts 2:38).
Repentance in a technical sense is a 180 degree turn from a given direction. Theologically, what we mean by repentance is simply an intentional turn from sin. Repentance is a loaded word, but let’s not do our theology apart from mission. What are we asking of our unbelieving neighbors? To repent, admit they have sin that needs turning from, and believe in Jesus as the Savior from that sin! Should we unpack all of what God means by every jot and tittle in his word? Absolutely. Should we require more from people in the call to repent and believe in Jesus than what God means by the gospel call? May it never be said of us as Christians that we have a higher standard for repentance that a holy God.
If you missed the first posts in this series, check them out here: