Apostolic Church Planting
FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 14, number 23, June 4, 2015
How did the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ go about their commission from Him? Gleaning the principles they used ought to guide our efforts at church planting today, anywhere in the world, including the United States and other so called first world countries. So, what did the apostles do to plant churches. First, they learned from the master Himself. Actually Luke tells us in his first report (Luke’s gospel) of all Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). He acted and then taught His disciples about the why, what, and how of ministry. Then Luke reported all that Jesus did after His resurrection, prior to His ascension, giving them orders by the Holy Spirit. He sent them from Jerusalem but not before He promised the baptism of the Spirit, not many days from then (Acts 1:2-5). Then, after Jesus’ ascension the one hundred and twenty gathered in the upper room and prayed ten days for power, which could only come by the promised Holy Spirit. The Spirit did come upon them at Pentecost and the formerly prideful and cowardly Peter preached with great boldness and authority, seeing three thousand saved that very day.
Later when Barnabas needed help with his ministry in Antioch he fetched Paul from Tarsus, knowing that Paul had a unique calling and gifting from the Lord (Acts (20:24). The apostles, however, were driven to make disciples of all nations so the elders at Antioch laid hands on Paul and Barnabas and commissioned them to go into the pagan and Gentile world and make disciples. Remember, there was much prayer preceding their missionary journeys (Acts 1:14, 13:3). We read in Acts 13 how Paul and his entourage entered Pisidian Antioch and went straight to the synagogue to preach. Note, Paul did not dialogue. He preached. He went straight at the Jews, using the Scriptures and the history of Israel to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ. Many Jews and God-fearing Gentiles gladly heard Jesus and followed Him, wanting to hear more the next Sabbath day. Eventually they became jealous and stirred up opposition to the apostles, driving them out of town. Paul went next to Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, always experiencing hostility and rejection, even beatings and imprisonment. He kept at it. Before departing the region the evangelist Paul circled back to the new converts and discipled them, appointing elders for each of the churches in each city (Acts 14:23). The elders clearly were very young in the faith, perhaps only a few months of being true followers of Jesus. Paul did not wait for a lengthy time of preparation. This was a revival culture. Things happen quickly in a revival culture.
And on Paul’s second missionary journey, after obeying the Macedonian call, he makes his way to Philippi, leading his disciples to a spot beside the river to pray, He met Lydia, the seller of purple fabrics with her entourage. Paul spoke the gospel to her and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). God had prepared her heart through His electing, regenerating grace. Please note what happened next-she and her household were all baptized. Her household probably included her servants, family members, work associates. Paul did not isolate her from her family and friends. Instead Paul used the Spirit’s entre into Lydia’s life as the catalyst to reach into her household. The same thing happened with the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31-34). Paul the evangelist kept moving, leading with evangelism and leaving leaders behind to mature the new believers in the faith.
So practically, as we seek to plant Presbyterian Churches in India, Nicaragua, Alabama and beyond, we follow the following methodology:
I THE METHOD
A. The mission. Why are we in the world?
1. Making disciples of all the nations, Mt. 28:18-20.
a) Evangelize daily, Acts 8:4.
b) Bring into the local church via immediate basic discipleship training, 1 Tim.1:5.
c) Teach to obey. Personal holiness is essential, Hebrews 12:14.
d) Multiply, 2 Tim.2:2.
2. The prioritization of resources. The total surrender of:
a) Time, Eph.5:16, Col.4:5.
b) Money, 1 Tim.6:10.
c) Spiritual gifts, Eph.4:7.
B. The ministry of the Holy Spirit.
1. The promise of the Spirit, Joel 2:28-32, Luke 24:47-49, Acts 1:8.
a) We must ask for the Spirit’s presence and power, Luke 11:13.
2. The fulfillment of that promise, Acts 2:1-4.
a)The anointing of the Spirit is vital, Luke 11:13.
3. The catalyst for the fulfillment of the promised Spirit, Acts 1:12-14.
a) Revival prayer, Ps.85:6.
1. The promise of authority, Mt. 28:18-20.
2. Jesus and apostolic authority, Mt.7:29, 9:6, 10:1.
3. The definition of Biblical authority-Christ’s influence to effect Biblical change.
4.We have His authority, Mt.28:18,19, John 1:12.
1. The promise of power, Acts 1:8.
2. Jesus and apostolic power, Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 1:18-2:5, 1 Thess.1:5.
3. The definition of Biblical power-the Spirit’s ability to convict, convert, and sanctify.
4. We have His power, Acts 1:8, 2 Cor.4:5-7.
1. Definition-the outpouring of the Spirit upon the preacher and evangelist.
2.How do we get it?
a)We seek the Lord, Jere.29:12,13.
3. How can we lose it?
a) By grieving or quenching the Spirit, Eph.4:30, 1 Thess.5:19.
4. What results from it?
a) The presence of God affecting the hearers, Is.64:1-4.
1. Conviction of sin.
a) John 16:8-11, convinced that he, the sinner, stands guilty before the Holy One.
a) John 3:3-8, Ezek.36:25-27. the rebellious heart is taken out by the Holy Spirit.
a) Romans 6:4, newness of life brings the indwelling Holy Spirit, promoting holiness.
G. Target area. Why plant where?
b) Openness to gospel by work of the Spirit.
c) Close proximity to resources like evangelists, teachers, servants.
a) Evangelists, the spearpoint, breaking up the fallow ground by the Spirit, Hos.10:12
b) Teachers to instruct in basic Christian training, Eph.4:14-16.
c) Servants to care, share, and show mercy, 1 John 4:7-13.
H. The Major Ministry Gifts.
1. Evangelism, 2 Tim.4:5
2. Teaching, Rom.12:6,7.
3. Mercy Ministry, Rom.12:8.
a) Revival Prayer weekend.
b) Weekly revival prayer meetings.
1) Target community for church plants.
2) Ask God for people of peace, open doors in the target community.
3) Ask God for love, boldness, power, efficacy, conversions.
2. People of peace.
a) Definition-those whom God has opened their hearts to hear the gospel, Acts 16.
b) Walk the community, asking the Spirit to direct you to such people.
c) Seek to engage the person of peace with the gospel. How?
3. Gospel presentation.
a) Their story.
1) “Can you tell me something of your spiritual journey?”
b) Your story.
1) “May I tell you my own spiritual journey?”
c) God’s story.
1) “May I tell you God’s story?”
2) Creation. .Fall. .History of Covenant of Grace. .Redemption. .Judgment. .
d) But why so many problems, why such suffering and evil?
e) The Three Problems, Three Solutions, Three Responses. Josh.5, Ezek.36:25-27, Acts 2:.38, Rom.2:28,29.
1) Three problems-cobra heart, pit latrine past, poisonous life.
2) Three solutions-regeneration, receiving the heart of Jesus; justification, receiving the righteousness of Jesus; sanctification, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
3) Three responses-repent, believe, call on the name of the Lord.
4. Other methodologies.
b) Street preaching.
J. Basic Training (discipleship). My Covenant Group manual, five lessons.
a) On the spot instruction-Bible, Prayer, Church, Witness, Fellowship.
a) My Covenant Group Manual, twenty-six lessons.
a) New convert brings together his household (oikos) that night or next night.
b) Why so quickly?
1) New convert is excited, has many friends and family members who see change.
c) We do not want to separate new convert from his native web of relationships.
K. Simple churches.
1. The Biblical concept of household.
a) Converts at Pentecost, Acts 2:39, Lydia, Philippian jailer, Acts 16.
a) Stay among their own people. Cuts down on being ostracized from their families.
3. Not isolation.
a) Do not pull new converts away, and unwisely place in a group they do not know.
L. Regional churches.
1. Lydia, the Philippian jailer, Acts 16; the church that meets in her house, Col.4:15.
a) Yet Paul’s epistles are written to church in Philippi, Ephesus, Colossae.
2. Gathering simple churches on Lord’s Day for:
a) Corporate worship, training, and prayer, Phil.1:8-11, Eph.1:15-19, Col.1:9-12.
M. Multiplication of simple and regional churches.
1. Of Simple churches.
a) Keep the evangelistic work going in the local community.
b) People in simple churches look to reach others outside their simple church.
c) Continue the immediate discipleship process.
2. Of Regional churches.
a) The apostle Paul is the model. He kept moving to a new city, leaving his workers behind to continue the work of basic training.
b) Look for emerging leaders and begin the process of Officer training, but give them immediate on the job training by overseeing their labors in their own regional church while others move on to new fields of harvest.
N. Officer training (Elders, Deacons, Pastors).
1. Theological training in lieu of formal seminary training.
a) Develop a curriculum
b) Theological education by extension. Bring in qualified teachers.
c) Make use of Third Millennium, EPI, Roger Smalling (in Hispanic world).
d) On the job training.
2. Special training.
a) Language training, if necessary.
b) Continuing education-counseling, preaching, mercy ministry, leadership, etc.
O. Necessary resources.
a) Budget development.
b) Strategy for funding.
1) Self-sustaining through tithing.
2. Managing resources.
a) Money-disbursements, financial reports, financial accountability.
b) Planters and support staff.
1. The visionary leader with apostolic (definitely with a small “a”) giftedness.
2. He develops the plan of attack, with counsel from his colonels and lieutenants, communicates it, and holds his officers accountable to execute it.
1. The field general (the indigenous leader of the church planting movement in that particular country).
2. Criteria for leadership.
a) Biblical qualification, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1.
b) Leadership gifts clearly seen-keeper and promoter of the vision, people follow him, can hold people accountable, sustains the culture of church planting.
c) Years of pastoral experience advisable but not absolutely mandatory.
1) Not a young believer, track record of faithfulness and productivity.
a) Finding them.
b) Training them.
c) Deploying them.
d) Multiplying them.
e) Certifying them.
f) Credentialing, ordaining them to Office of Evangelist.
2. Teaching and Ruling Elders.
a) They shepherd the flock
b) They govern the church.
d) Teaching Elders-added responsibilities of preaching, sacraments.
e) Credentialing, ordaining them to Office of Elder.
D. Sergeants (Deacons).
2. Oversee mercy ministry.
a) Finding them.
b) Training them.
c) Deploying them.
d) Multiplying them.
e) Credentialing, ordaining them to Office of Deacon.
E. Corporals (Simple church leaders).
2. Training them.
3. Deploying them.
4. Multiplying them.
5. Certifying them.
F. Privates (foot soldiers evangelizing, speaking truth, and encouraging the saints).
1. Challenging them to a life of discipleship multiplication.
a) “Why did God save you?”
b) “Why are you in this world?”
2. Basic training.
a) Twenty-six lessons on living the Christian life.
3. Ministry Training via on the job training.
a) In evangelism.
b) In teaching.
c) In showing mercy.
a) Model. .teach. .they do. .correct. .approve. .
G. Recruitment of personnel.
1. Within an existing church some may buy into the vision.
a) Give all the opportunity to engage in the vision of multiplying disciples.
b) To those who express interest, challenge with the specifics, metrics, accountability.
2. New converts.
a) Immediately engage them in Basic Training.
b) Proceed to Ministry Training.
3. Immediate discipleship/multiplication process.
a) Cast the vision.
b) Maintain the vision via Lieutenants in the field.
A. Down the chain of command.
B. Developing and using metrics (measuring the actual work of ministry.
C. Follow through.
1. A cursory reading of Ephesians 6:21, Colossians 4:7-17, and Romans 16:3-24 makes clear that Paul was leaving many workers behind, those with shepherding and mercy ministry gifts to build up the saints.
2. I plan to flesh this out in much more detail as we move forward.