Note from the editor: This blog post by J. D. Payne originally appeared here at Verge Network.

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I recently spoke with a church planting leader for a particular denomination.  As we talked over coffee, he inquired about the direction of our church when it comes to church planting.

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My response was to describe our future missionary labors in terms like we read about in Acts 13-14; 16; 20; 1 Thess 1:2-10; and Titus 1:5.

He responded with much surprise as if my thoughts were coming from an unusual source.

Unfortunately, over the years, I have found myself surprising many people during similar conversations.

What does it reveal about our missiology and biblical convictions whenever we think it is strange to advocate that those first century church planting teams have something to teach us?  What does it reveal about our Kingdom stewardship when we view such an advocate as being peculiar?  Do we not recognize a problem exists whenever we label a church planter as being innovative, creative, or unusual for following a Pauline model?

Granted, not everything we read in the Bible is prescriptive.  However, I believe our brother Paul and his example should be on a pedestal for us to consider.  He was a church planter, you know.

Having the right definition

As wise stewards of the mystery of Christ, we must subscribe to a definition of biblical church planting as evangelism that results in new churches.  Or, to communicate it in other terms: disciple-making that results in new churches.  The weight of the biblical model is on this definition.

Imagine what would happen if we began to create a church planting atmosphere in North America whereby the expectation for new churches is that they should consist of 95-100% new believers–at the moment those churches are planted.

Consider what would happen if our strategies did not embrace methods that would result in new churches consisting of 95-100% long-term Kingdom citizens–at the moment of their births.

We don’t need more flavors

What would happen if we recognized that a wise use of our Father’s resources (e.g., money, people) should be to assist in planting churches from out of the harvest fields, instead of establishing a new work in a community to provide a different style of worship/ministry for the believers who are already there?

We do not need another flavor of church in the Baskin Robbins of North American Christianity; we need missionary bands to settle for nothing less than disciple-making that results in new churches.

What would happen if we equipped and commissioned church planters with the task of only going to the lost in the people group/community?

Yes, we say we are advocating these things, but let’s begin to question our results.

Try this.  The next time you hear about a new church planted, a record number of new churches birthed in an area, or church planting goals reached, just ask the question, “What percent of the members of those churches recently came into the Kingdom of God?”

Do our actions match our words?

We say we want to see churches planted from out of the harvest, but our actions and our leadership practices do not often match our words. And the sad thing is that even when faced with such inconsistencies, we are likely to continue repeating our past behaviors–expecting different future results (Maybe the Ridley Assessment has something to say to those of us who oversee church planters?).

Whenever a biblical model for church planting is viewed as unusual, the path to change will come with pain.

In order for healthy change to occur, we have to change our ecclesiologies, missiologies, and what we celebrate, reward, and expect.

Poor definitions = poor practices

We have a poor understanding of our Commission.  We act as if Jesus has commanded us to plant churches.  We are commanded to make disciples.  It is out of disciple making that churches are to be birthed.  The weight of the biblical model rests here.  Not transfer growth. Not acrimonious splits. It is evangelism that results in disciples, who covenant together to be and function as the local expression of the Body of Christ.

We have a poor understanding of the local church.  If our definition is poor, then everything we say and do related to church planting will be poor.  We often expect newly planted churches to manifest structures and organizations like what is observed in churches of 20, 40, 50 years of age. Our definition of a local church is oftentimes so encased with our cultural desires that we do not know the difference between biblical prescriptions and American preferences.

We operate from a poor definition of church planter.  If we do not recognize the missionary nature (and thus apostolic functions) of church planters, then we end up equating them with pastors.  And take it from a pastor who has been involved in church planting:  missionaries and pastors have different callings, gift-mixes, passions, and functions to play in the Kingdom.  We end up sending pastors to do apostolic-type work, or sending missionaries and expect them to be pastors.  Such is a perfect storm for problems, frustrations, burn-out, and disasters.

Are there other ways to plant churches than what we read about in the ministry of Paul?

The problems with our current models

Yes, and I am in favor of some of those models. Are there times when a church should hive-off members to begin work in another area? Yes.  Is it okay for a congregation to send out a pastor with several church members to plant an “instant” church in a community? Yes, under certain circumstances.

However, such models tend to be difficult to reproduce (in view of four billion unbelievers), pose contextualization challenges, are costly, and often do not result in a great amount of disciples made.  The weight of the biblical definition for church planting is not found here.  Such models should be the exception when it comes to church planting.  Today, they are often the expectation.

I expect my “surprising” conversations will continue in the future.  Such is necessary as we move in a direction where a biblical model is not looked upon as the exception.  But until our church planting expectations change, we must ask ourselves a question and recognize the troubling answer:

What do we have whenever a biblical model is viewed as unusual?

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J. D. (@jd_payne) serves as the pastor of church multiplication with The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Indiana, and served for a decade with the North American Mission Board and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books on the topics of evangelism and missions.

Note from the editor: This blog post originally appeared here at Verge Network.

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Paul Tripp discusses how to fit mission into your schedule without causing it to become one more thing on the today list for the family.

In the video clip above he says,

“…if you’re saying mission is just one more thing to add to an already busy schedule, think about the thinking behind that thinking. Again it’s got this divided life to it.

The fact of the matter is mission is my schedule. It’s not one more thing to my schedule.

And so if I’m going to work I’m not thinking, ‘Well I’m at work today and then later on tonight I’m going to do ministry.’ I’m thinking, ‘I’m heading to a God given place of ministry where I will have the opportunity to live out the grace of the Gospel both in the way that I respond and the grace that I give to people. I get to live that out a thousand ways today…‘I think, ‘How could it be that I would be so privileged as to be apart of the most important work in the Universe—it’s called redemption and I get to do that all the time.’

What do I want for my children? Redemption. What do I want for my neighbors? Redemption. What do I want for my husband or wife? Redemption. What do I want for my coworkers? Redemption. What do I want for the shop keeper that I meet three or four times a week? Redemption. And I want to be apart of that. And by the touch of my hand, by the tone of my voice, by the look on my face I want to represent the One who has sent me.

I think my job is to make the grace of an invisible Christ visible.”

Note from the editor: This blog post by Robby Gallaty originally appeared here at Replicate Ministries on November 29, 2013.

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2 Timothy 2:1-2: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many4-Fold-D-Strategy witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

It’s difficult to decide what strategy is the most effective for making disciples in the midst of many options. How about a biblical one? Paul, in his final letter to Timothy, shares a disciplemaking strategy that works.

The first step in the discipleship process is to Abide in the Power of Christ: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus…”
The second step in the process is to Implement the Principles of Christ, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses…”

The third step is to Invest in the People of Christ, “Entrust to faithful men…”

A disciple is someone who invests in the people of Christ. Paul writes to Timothy, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In this verse, Paul gives Timothy a command. It’s not an option; it’s not a choice. EntrustDisciple. Timothy had been given a gift and Paul wanted to be sure he realized that the only way to safeguard and protect the gospel was by giving it away. If God has worked in your life, you need to give the investment away. The goal of Christianity is not to show up at church every Sunday morning and simply be fed by the pastor; the goal of Christianity is to be fed in a way that allows and encourages you to give it away. Are you giving it away?

Think of the Christian life as being a metal chain made of individual links. Every Christian is either connecting links or breaking links in the chain. You are either making connections, discipling people, and passing the baton to others in the faith or you’re breaking links. And that destroys the chain.

Who are we supposed to invest in? Paul says, “faithful men.” Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to everyone because not every wants to be discipled. In many churches, probably less than half of the attendees really want to be discipled. They are happy simply showing up at church on Sunday morning and staying in a comfortable spiritual place.

In the ten years that I’ve discipled men in my ministry and my life, I’ve seen about 60 percent of them continue the spiritual journey for the long haul. I think that Paul is emphasizing the need for Timothy to find men who have a heart for God and a passion to not only make disciples, but also to be discipled.

Sometimes we think Jesus had only twelve followers to choose from, but the truth is that He had to turn away more men that he chose. Jesus had thousands of men to choose from. Of the thousands who wanted to follow Him, He had to choose twelve who would be devoted to the cause.

He had to exclude many men, and I’m sure a lot of them were faithful. Jesus did not pick His disciples because they knew everything or because they were wealthy, brilliant, well-schooled, or talented theologically. Far from it! I believe that the one characteristic Jesus looked for in His disciples was that these men were teachable.

I can work with somebody if they only have one talent, but I cannot work with them if they don’t have the characteristic of being teachable. In fact, you can even have little talent but still be teachable, and I can work with you. We must to get to the place where we desire to grow and learn. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:1–2: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.” Let’s grow up and mature from being infants to those who are ready for solid spiritual food.

John Wesley, the great evangelist, said, “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but God, hate nothing but sin and are determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified, and I will set the world on fire with them.[i] Do you realize that if the apostles had only evangelized and hadn’t discipled anyone, none of us would be here today? Think about it. The call to faith is a call to teach people to pass on the gospel and the legacy of Christ.

What if twelve of us had been chosen to be the twelve apostles? Would you and I be able to pass the message on for thousands of years? The weight of that responsibility rested upon those men.

Paul discipled elders and deacons and prophets and leaders of the church. Eventually, he discipled Timothy. He tells Timothy, “You’ve been invested in; now go and make an investment in another person. Not in a 401(k), not in any retirement plan; invest in people. That’s the only way your legacy is going to live on: by investing in people.”

I would rather invest in a thousand people who become faithful followers and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ than have a church of five thousand people who are a mile wide and an inch deep. I believe we can change our cities; I believe we can change the world. I love preaching, but this kind of change is not going to happen by preaching alone. We must invest in people.

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Robby Gallaty (Ph.D.) is the Senior Pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN, and the Founder of Replicate Ministries. He is the author of Creating an Atmosphere to Hear God Speak, Unashamed: Taking a Radical Stand for Christ, and Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples (Coming November 2013).

If you were part of the Multiply Gathering in Austin last month, you may remember an analogy that Francis used to illustrate what happens when we add to the gospel. What he ended up with was the drink pictured blow.

It’s an ugly concoction that’s hard to look at and even harder to drink. It used to be juice, made solely of fruits and vegetables. But simply by adding stuff that we find appealing – whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and Skittles – what began as healthy and refreshing quickly became unappetizing and impure. The juice in the picture to the left is now unrecognizable, if it even qualifies as juice at all.

This is what becomes of the gospel when we try to spice it up with our own “words of eloquent wisdom.” 1 Corinthians 1:17 tells us that when we do this, we can actually empty the cross of its power. That’s why, in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul resolved to preach nothing but the simple gospel: Jesus’ death on the cross.

The death of Jesus hardly seems appealing to fleshly eyes. In fact, reading 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 makes it clear that, like a child who hates healthy vegetable juice, the lost will naturally see our gospel message as foolishness. So it’s okay if preaching it makes us feel uncomfortable. But we must preach it. And though people may like Skittles, throwing some in a glass of vegetable juice actually ruins the once healthy and refreshing drink. Likewise, adding to the gospel in an attempt to make the cross more appealing actually serves to empty the cross of its inherent power. For we know that this gospel, and this gospel alone, is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rm 1:16).

To watch this illustration from the November Gathering, begin listening here at time marker 1:14:33.

Jim and Betty with Their Small Groups

From our friends at Shattered Magazine comes the story of Jim Warren, the executive director of David Platt’s resource ministry, Radical.

Jim has the same story as all believers – he once was lost but now is found. And though this basic template of redemption in Christ remains constant, each “found” person fills it in with their own unique, providential journey. Check out Jim’s story and see God’s glory on display in the life of a man whose success shifted from being worldly to being heavenly, from being temporal to being eternal.

In the words of article writer Mitch Eubank, “When we hear a story like Jim Warren’s, let us not only be encouraged by his truly radical steps of faith, but more importantly, let us be drawn into the worship of our great God; the same God who chooses to use helpless sinners in His great plan of redeeming a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.”

Read the entire story HERE.

Ladies, if you are looking for a good additional resource to help you has you make disciples, check out Lisa Chan’s True Beauty, a series of films in which biblical teaching is woven together with the personal testimonies of women. In Not of This World,” as you hear about having an eternal perspective on things, you’ll get a glimpse of how Shawn’s wife, Carolyn, learned to do this through her struggles as a wife and mother. You may remember Shawn from the most recent Multiply Gathering (the man Francis discipled).

The first video below gives you a look behind the scenes of the short film and includes Shawn telling his side of the story. The second is a short “Not of This World” trailer.

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