Last week I had the privilege to go out and do evangelism with fellow members of the church my wife and I gather with. The primary objective as stated by one of the guys in the group was for us to do “a lot of seed sewing…hopefully even get in the Word with someone… try to identify people who could one day plant a church in the area” (intentionally anonymous). We were working in a neighborhood where a member of our church had moved to intentionally try to reach a crime-riddled, gang-infested part of Raleigh. Yes, you read that right; we were looking to find an indigenous person FROM a community that would stay in the neighborhood, disciple, and raise up people to start a church gathering IN that specific neighborhood.
Did you know it is okay to do that? I confess, as we were walking the streets of that neighborhood it often doesn’t occur to me that I should make disciples, disciple them where they are, and release them into their neighborhood to reach others. I confess that I often see making disciples from the perch of privilege; come, be my disciple, join my church, be my people, acknowledge our resources. However, as I walked, it became more and more beautiful as I pictured seeing the first convert in this neighborhood. To think of the conversations this new disciple would have was overwhelming: the sins confessed, the repentance actualized, Christ recognized as Lord. This neighborhood doesn’t need my stuff nearly as much as they need the gospel.
This bridges last week’s blog, where we discussed “seeing people repent and believe in Jesus,” to this week’s blog perfectly. The final part of our Church planting haiku is “congregationalizing, and repeating the process.” Can I just say congregationalizing syllabically is a haiku killer? As it relates to the church planting definition I’ve provided, the neighborhood we were evangelizing is at the very beginning; our church is using a team approach to communicate the gospel to their context. We pray that very soon we will see people repent and believe in Jesus, and begin to develop as His follower; we yearn for a congregation to form in that neighborhood; our joy will increase exponentially to see THEM plant a church!
Hebrews 10:25 ends a brilliant section of the writer exhorting the reader to live a Godly life with an exhortation to not forsake gathering together for corporate worship. This can mean meeting in a building with a steeple, a robed choir, and a pipe organ. Or, it could mean meeting in an apartment with simply an open Bible. Both are beautiful representations of congregationalizing! This beauty is double when either of these expressions of the gathering reproduce themselves. Data and history confirm for us that church planting is essential. It can be argued from our definition that fulfilling the Great Commission IS church planting!
Sometimes it can be frustrating that the Bible is not more explicit on how to do things. I personally am extremely thankful that God left many items undefined in corporate worship. If you asked me why, I would say because God planned for his gospel to go forth into every community, and because the disciples would look different in every community, the church would look differently. God loves our diversity. God loves his people gathering together to study his word, sing his praises, and make his truth known. Let us be about the business of communicating the gospel, leading people to repent and believe in Jesus, develop as His followers, congregationalizing, and repeat the process. May God give you as big of a heart for church planting as He has for it!