What is Church Planting, Why it Matters to Me (and why it should matter to you too)
I really feel like there should be a dictionary of Christianese, you know a place to store all those great phrases Christians say that are not always the most easy to understand, oh wait there is one…
Well nonetheless, one of the phrases that I have been passionate about for the last few years is ‘Church Planting.’ Now, if you look in the Bible for this phrase you aren’t going to find it. Mainly because its usage is fairly recent, over the last hundred years or so, but what is describes is the single most effective way for the incredible news of Jesus’ hope, light, and power to spread across the globe and it has!
The reason it is so vital is rooted in the words of Jesus Himself. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus commanded:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20 ESV).
If you have been around the church world for a while, I am sure you have heard these words. They are called The Great Commission, and they are Jesus' final words to His disciples before He left the Earth.
You most likely heard these words on a personal level, explaining how each one of us is responsible to go out and introduce people to Jesus and inviting them into the family of God. Absolutely true. BUT that is a secondary and personalized understanding of these verses. Because you see even in these verses, Jesus speaks of baptism, observance to His words, and accountability. Each of these pieces is to be found within the local church specifically as well as in our personal lives generally.
The only problem was there wasn’t a local church yet because at this point the disciples were followers of a Jewish religious teacher, but things were about to change.
This good news of the hope found in Jesus’ Kingdom would transform the world as new Jesus’ Communities began all across the Roman Empire, and at the best moments of the church’s history, this good news of hope was shared as new local churches began in communities in desperate need.
And that is where church planting comes in, as it is simply the creation of a new local church. There are new local churches that pop up all the time across the globe and even in your city, and that is a good thing!
Now, we are both aware that in most cities there are a ton of churches that already exist, and obviously those churches need to be filled with followers of Jesus looking to follow out this Great Commission, but if we are honest we all know some people in our lives who those churches that already exist will probably NOT reach for whatever reason.
I promise I am not changing the subject too much, but I loved the movie ‘The Greatest Showman’ and I am sure you did too, so I will reference it. BTW if you have not seen this incredible movie yet, as soon as you finish reading this, go get Movie Pass and get to the theater to see this gem. You are welcome.
In this movie, loosely telling the story of the beginning of PT Barnum’s circus, there is a song sang by the individuals who came together as the “freaks” for the circus. These individuals had long been outcasts to society, broken down, laughed at, and rejected.
But something special happened when they were brought together to work, they were changed. The rejection they experienced from the world didn’t change, in fact, it only got worse, but something changed within them when they found a family to belong to. I love the lyrics from the song ‘From Now On’:
“And we will come back home, And we will come back home, Home, again!”
Home for these individuals was not a place, it wasn’t their job, it was a community and a family to belong to. They finally found their safe place.
This is why church planting matters to me.
In each city across the globe, there are individuals who are like me and you, filled with brokenness and in desperate need of the hope found in an adoption into the family of God. Individuals who are longing to be apart of something greater, they are looking to come back home into the arms of the Father.
Isn’t this exactly what you need? I do and so does the world around us.
So I care deeply about church planting, and I think you should too.
This goes beyond a particular denomination or church planting organization. Honestly, Jesus cares much more about confronting the darkness of this world with Light than about minor differences in belief, just be a part of something that focuses on the story of Jesus!
For Ali and I, I believe we have been called to be apart of Jesus’ Mission by eventually planting a church for the Disneyland Cast Members in Anaheim, California. Within this community of 23,000 individuals tied together by their employment, I believe there are so many who are in desperate need of returning back home to Jesus, and I am excited to be apart of it.
Into the future, I will begin to share more often where this journey takes us and I will do my best to not sugarcoat the difficulties and celebrations of the story ahead.
Our next step is to go to be a part of a church planting assessment in March 2018 with Acts 29 Church Planting Network, a diverse, global family of church-planting churches. If you could, please join us in praying for this upcoming weekend where we will be given the benefit of receiving feedback from some guys and girls who have been a part of church planting for a while.
From there we will be able to pray through and work through when we are called into the next chapter of the story God is telling!
Oh and Cast Members of Disneyland, Ali and I cannot wait to build a new safe place to discover the love of Jesus with you!
FYI- I adapted this post from a message I preached recently, you can check out the audio podcast of it at this link.