I believe the primary mission of the local church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. If I believe that, then everything my church does should be pointed toward that goal. If I believe that, then I must also believe that making disciples doesn’t begin inside the church, it begins out in the community with non-Christians. This is why I do what I do.
This is also why I prefer the Antioch church over the church at Jerusalem. When referring to the New Testament Church, most people talk about Acts 2, and specifically the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:42. But think about it a moment. If it had been left to that Jerusalem church, would any of us be Christians today? I doubt it.
The Jerusalem church tried hard to keep the movement within the Jewish race. And when the Jerusalem church finally, reluctantly allowed the Gospel to go to the Gentiles, it hunkered down and was comfortable merely taking care of itself to the point that Paul had to raise money to keep the church afloat. Not a very good example for us today.
In contrast, the Antioch church is the mother of most, if not all, the Gentile churches in the world today. It was the Antioch church that caught the spirit of Matthew 28:18-19 where Jesus instructed us to “make disciples of all people groups.” It was the Antioch church that sent church-planter missionaries out to the far corners of the known world. The Antioch Church is the example for us today. But what is the real reason to use Acts 11 rather than Acts 2 as the example for our time? When historians write about the first quarter of the 21st century they will document that the single most defining act of the Christian Church was the multiple church-planting movements spawned during the generation. We are living in the midst of the third largest church-planting movement in history. Only in recent years has the annual number of new churches in the United States outpaced the annual number of churches closing their doors. The problem is that too few churches are actively sponsoring a new church plant. Lifeway’s survey of 1,000 Protestant churches revealed that only 3% of the church gives primary support for planting a church and only 14% gave financial support in partnership with other churches to help start new congregations.
If we use the Antioch Church as our model New Testament Church, then it’s not enough for us to just pray for missionaries or to send them money. We need to become missionaries in our own backyard. If you’re really interested in growing the Kingdom through your local church, check out www.churchgrowthtools.net.
Question: What do you think are the most important first steps toward becoming a church that plants? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.