Church Planting

How the Church Can Engage in Missions: Nationally

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It has been stated that missions is not the west to the rest, but rather from everywhere to everywhere. We see this not only in our neighborhoods but also in our own nation. Research shows that the North American population is 371 million; however, 281 million are lost and without hope in Christ. Post-Christian thinking, unreached peoples migrating into the United States, and people moving into cities provide a pressing urgency for the local church to engage in proclaiming the gospel and planting churches on a national level.

While the Great Commission doesn’t explicitly state that we are to plant churches (rather to make disciples of all nations), the New Testament does not know of a believer who is without discipleship in the context of a local church. We see church planting, then in the New Testament, as the primary means by which the Great Commission is fulfilled. Therefore, churches need their missions strategy to to have such a focus. Below are five reasons why North American missions needs to have church planting at the center:

New Churches Expand the Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is His rule, reign, and sovereignty over all creation. New churches declare and display the Kingdom of God as a counterculture to the world around them. Churches should plant churches so that God’s rule, reign, and sovereignty might be proclaimed in every corner of the earth.

New Churches Enlarge the People of God

Why do we want to see churches planted in cities, throughout rural communities, and among ethnic pockets across the United States and Canada? Because God is seeking worldwide worshippers of Himself. God delights in the praises of people from every country and continent. Paul writes, “for though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (1 Cor. 9:19). May we see more people become worshippers of God through church planting.

New Churches Can Reproduce Themselves

Healthy churches reproduce themselves. We see all throughout the Pauline epistles that Paul is planting churches wherever he goes. He did this for the advancement of the gospel and through the people of God – specifically the local church. The gospel was not limited to these local churches but spread throughout neighboring cities and nations. This should be the case for the local church. We need to reproduce ourselves, not for any self-pride, promotion, or worth, but instead to increase the advancement of the gospel through local gospel-centered churches.

New Churches Can Proclaim a Contextualized Gospel

We often do not speak the same language, even in our country, so there are various cultural and lingual barriers to overcome as we consider facilitating church planting among indigenous peoples. New indigenous churches can reach their own people more easily. Local churches should aim to plant churches that can more effectively cross barriers to the gospel.

New Churches Can Effectively Make Disciples

Church planting is the most effective way to fulfill the Great Commission, because God calls us who make up local churches to make disciples of all nations. The most effective way to reach, disciple, equip, mobilize, and reproduce fruit-bearing disciples is to plant new churches.

The North American Mission Board and the SEND Network provide a pipeline to resource the local church to partner with church planting, as well as to discover, develop, and deploy church planters in their midst. While a significant percentage of resources is disseminated to major cities, opportunities and resources are available to be part of church planting in all 50 states and in Canada.

Start by looking within. Who in your midst do you identify as called, gifted, and fit to plant a church? Your church may not have the resources to develop a church planter; however, the SEND network, in partnership with your state convention, can assist in developing them through assessment, training, and other necessary tools. Second, look around. What ethnicities do you have in your community? What would it look like to partner and be a part of planting among one of these people groups? For example, the church I am part of has set a goal to plant churches among the ethnicities in our region: Hispanics/Latinos, South Asian, and Marshallese, among others.

Maybe your church isn’t quite ready to take the steps to plant out of your church. Start by partnering with a church plant in one of NAMB’s ‘Send Cities.’ Discover ways that you can stand alongside a planter and his church to reach that city with the gospel. Just as God has determined the dwelling places of man (Acts 17:24), so Jesus has come to dwell with us, die for us, be raised for us, and make us a holy people who dwell in local churches to make disciples who plant other churches.

  • Church Planting
  • Diaspora Missions
  • Great Commission
  • NAMB
Ryan Martin

Ryan serves as Director of Missions and Operations with Lightbearers Ministries. He graduated in 2022 with a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary, where he also serves as a trustee. He has received a MDiv in Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (2008), and an undergraduate degree (2005) from Union University in Jackson, TN. Prior to joining Lightbearers, he served for thirteen years as a missions pastor in the local church. Ryan lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Rebekah, and three children: Hudson, Annie, and Hattie.

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