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In an earlier article, we defined mission work by looking at what the Apostles actually did after they received the Great Commission from Jesus. In short, it is not what many of us think as missions.
David Hesselgrave, in his book, Planting Churches Cross Culturally: North America and Beyond, said that we have an understanding of mission that is too broad. He taught that there are many good works that are often put under the umbrella of missions, but, quoted Hesselgrave, “If they do not engage in or support evangelism and church planting, they are not only parachurch, they are paramission.”
Continuing, he said that we also have an understanding of evangelism that is too narrow. “Proportionately, too much emphasis has been placed upon multiplying converts – and not nearly enough emphasis has been placed on multiplying congregations.”We can't do things like Paul if we demand to hold on to our traditions of Western #Christianity. Click To Tweet
Hesselgrave was making a case that the mission of the church is to plant and establish new churches which can impact a larger geographical area for a longer generational amount of time. It is what the Apostles did to obey the Great Commission, and we must view things from the same perspective.
Church Planting Today
When we consider the works of the Apostles, the question always arises, “That was how they did it then, but our society is so different today. How can we actually apply these principles to today?”
It’s a valid point.
Paul planted churches in a matter of weeks, and then left to go plant more. He had the clothes on his back and the Word of God.Most of us are not actually established in our #faith. Click To Tweet
But the process today is so much more bulky. You need a few hundred thousand dollars, a large portion of the congregation going with you, a sending church which provides almost all your financial provision and curriculum for teaching. The programs have to include individual discipleship, men’s group, women’s group, college group, youth group, plus a killer sermon on Sunday morning. And eventually you gotta spend millions on a building.
Paul’s churches were simple. They were a large number of small, authentic communities, tied together by a complex network of qualified leaders. Their meetings centered around the Lord’s Supper and “encouraging each other on toward love and good deeds” as they waited for Jesus to come back.1 They met in homes, in businessfronts, and in public areas in the city.
If we follow Paul’s model for church, all the bulkiness goes away. We no longer need millions of dollars. We no longer need intricate programs. We no longer need years and decades to accomplish the work.We can't just be hearers of the Word. We gotta be do-ers. Click To Tweet
We just need people who are passionate about Jesus, and qualified leaders who work to establish a network of chruches.2
Maybe you completely disagree with me so far.
Planting churches in homes and business fronts is one way to do it, but you can’t just discount all the work that’s been done over the past 100 years in terms of mission work.
I agree. We can’t just discount it. So much good has been done in the past. I’m not saying Paul’s way is the only way. I’m just saying that this is how the Apostles did it, and if we’re going to do it differently, then we should have a very good reason. And a good reason is not “This is the way we’ve always done it.”
House churches tend to stray from sound doctrine. So you get lots of heresy.
Yes. But churches in buildings also stray from sound doctrine when they are completely autonomous with no accountability to a church network. I’m advocating a strong network with strong leadership to protect the gospel as it’s passed down.
House churches are just a fad.
Well, believe it or not, most of the Christian world operates out of house churches. And they are thriving! China, India, Africa, South America, The Global South. They’re killin’ it. It’s just in the U.S. and the Western world that we cling to the lecture-style, large-building, institutionalized church. And it can be argued that we are not killin’ it.
These are just a few objections. There are certainly plenty more. I’d be glad to discuss them in the comment section if you so desire.
Read the following pages for actual practical advice on how to plant churches in this new paradigm.
- Hebrews 10:25
- Jeff Reed, Founder and CEO of BILD, International explored the idea of simple churches with complex networks in his encyclical entitled, The Churches of the First Century.