In Christian circles today, church planting remains a popular ministry option. It’s not hard to find a multitude of church planting resources. Books, seminars, podcasts, websites, even entire mission agencies, exist to help church planters succeed. A large majority of these resources imply, if not explicitly declare, that the end game for a church planter is to plant a church as God has directed him. But such a goal falls far short of God’s desire.
The objective of every church—whether fledgling new plant or storied, long-established church—is to be a vehicle of Kingdom impact far beyond its four walls or “weekend worship experience.”
Jesus Didn’t Command Us to Plant Churches
Do you realize that you can plant a church and not be a threat to the Enemy at all? Do you understand that you can lead a church that makes little or no difference in eternity? This is certainly not what God intended, nor is it why Jesus died on the Cross.
Jesus came to announce the Gospel, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15) The emphasis in His teaching on the Kingdom, more than the church, has been well-documented. And His statement on the church also is extremely pivotal to the understanding of our own work: the church belongs to Jesus, and He builds it (Matthew 16:18). This is not our role, nor is it our ministry.
When Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), He was teaching us that His desire is to bring transformation to lives, families, neighborhoods and communities. Establishing a church is not the end, but the primary means, for this transformation because what happens within the church must certainly spill over into the village, town or city where it is located. This is a necessary corollary to all Holy Spirit-led churches.
Agents of Holy Transformation
We are called to point people to Jesus: to “go and tell,” to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19), to be “salt and light in our world” (Matthew 5:13f.), and to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are not called just to plant or pastor a church. Under the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit who empowers the church, we are to be agents of God’s transforming work where we live and serve. Through this work, God uses us to push back the darkness and bring the light of Christ to the community. This is why your church comes into being; this is why it still exists to this day.
So, look past the process of simply planting the church and see that God’s vision extends far beyond the regular weekend worship experiences of the congregation! Recognize that God has put your church in a certain location, not by accident, but by divine design. He has orchestrated the work necessary for your church to produce a symphony of wonder and impact throughout the community, and perhaps the region, where you serve Him.
The question: is will you join Him in His Kingdom work, and look beyond the arbitrary boundaries of time and space? “For with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Dr. David Jackson serves as the director of church planting & strategy at the Baptist Convention of New England.