How To Start A Church That Is Easily Planted
The other day I shared an older post on Facebook about how house churches can be planted in a few days time. One of my friends and a regular encourager here at the blog wrote in and asked how someone can be trained in such a short time to start a house church. I think this is a fantastic question simply because it forces us to be clear on what makes a church a church.
In the book of Acts we see churches planted by simply by preaching the Gospel and lost people coming to Christ. Because there were many places where no one knew Christ, the preaching of the Gospel and the repentance of sinners was the only criteria for starting a church. There are a number of situations where Paul and his team would preach the Gospel, remain only a couple of weeks, and have to leave shortly thereafter because of persecution (see the examples of Antioch of Pisida in Acts 13:13-52 and Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-10). While this wasn’t ideal, there was something real enough that Paul deposited in those churches that it would sustain them in Paul’s absence.
That something is the Gospel.
If you think about it, Paul really only had enough time to teach them that. These were new converts, unschooled in the ways of Christ, that would have to hold up under persecution themselves when Paul got to leave. He probably also gave them some basic instructions in how to grow in Christ and how to meet together. But much of it was done through modeling and teaching the basic tenets of the Christian faith. As long as they gathered together and gave themselves to telling the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the church would exist and thrive.
Fast forward several hundred years to now. We live in very complicated society that is seemingly filled with churches on every corner and an accessibility to the Gospel that is nothing shy of miraculous. But the ability to plant a church with little but the preaching of the Gospel is unchanged. Where lost people come to Christ, we do our best to teach them basic discipleship strategies that we can copy down on the back of a napkin. This keeps them growing in Christ and taking on the basic life of discipleship. Then we give them things to do when they and their newly found brothers and sisters meet as a church.
The point here is that the Gospel creates the church, especially in situations where there was no existing church before. The Gospel doesn’t just save individuals, it drafts the people who say yes to it into a new family, known as the church. This new spiritual family will most likely meet regularly (I suggest they do), but it’s their shared identity around the Gospel of Jesus that makes them the church. The life of the church plant is found in the seed of the Gospel. If the seed is real, a church will sprout.
Lastly, I’d say this: Paul didn’t abandon the churches he planted. So while a church can easily be planted in a manner of days or weeks, the task of supporting, resourcing, and parenting a church can go much longer than that. Though he couldn’t return to Thessalonica, he wrote several letters to them to correct problems in what they believed. Other times Paul would make return visits, appoint elders, or send other workers to do what he could not. This kind of apostolic fathering is essential to the life of churches that are birthed in a quick amount of time.
A church can be planted quickly if it has the seed of the Gospel and some good soil for it to fall into. The power and identity of a church is found in the Gospel it was given. Letters, leaders, and visits will supplement the Gospel, but can never replace it. When a people believe in Jesus together and regularly gather to encourage one another in Him, a church is born. We help it mature by sharing our walks and lessons we’ve learned, but the Gospel itself is what makes churches.
May we never become so advanced that we forget that.
Photo Credit: Dawid Zawiła
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ around the country,
Recently a brother in Christ who is dear to many of us hear in Iowa suffered a massive heart attack. Rick Lumbard is the Director of Wind and Fire Ministries, a man of prayer, and a servant of the Lord that has been used in a number of peoples’ lives throughout our city and the state. He currently is unconscious and in a hospital in Des Moines. Would you join us in prayer for Rick as we believe for healing for him? He has a wife and several children that would be thankful for the prayer support.