April 21, 2017

Please Pray: the Purpose and Potential of Church Planting

Dear praying friends and family, 

Usually I send out bullet points, because those are the kinds of posts and emails that I often prefer to read myself, but this month I’ve decided to go a bit more long form. For those who (understandably) prefer not to read all of this, here’s the summary: there is stunning similarity in the way God established new churches in the Bible and the way he establishes churches now

For example, check out this passage in Acts 14:26-27: 

26 From Attalia Paul and Barnabas sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (Emphasis added.)

Then… 

The first-century urban church planters, Paul and Barnabas, gather together members from a partnering congregation to celebrate the accomplished work of new churches planted and new believers baptized. The immediately preceding verses tell more of the story: despite the cost of much time, effort, resources, prayer, and personal hardship, local churches were successfully established in cities throughout the region. New Christians were born and new leaders were appointed. 

Now…

With 2017 bringing new church launches in so many places (Cape Town, South Africa; Central Harlem, New York; Lagos, Nigeria; and Paris, France), the magnitude of the work that is set before us as an organization can seem daunting. For this reason, stories like this one Acts 14 are crucial because they serve as reminders both of the purpose of church planting (“opening a door of faith,” verse 27), and of the potential of church planting (“completed work” by God’s grace, verse 26). 

A few weeks ago, I was reminded again of this purpose and potential while I visiting a church that my wife and I helped to plant in the Mexico City Valley. I was there to celebrate the church’s was tenth anniversary, and I found myself emotionally overcome — not with the magnitude of the task at hand, but with the magnitude of the work completed: more than 250 gathered together, a dozen home groups, a local eldership and pastorate, and local resources providing for the church’s numerous ministries. I was, like Paul and Barnabas before me, able to participate not only in the labor of church planting, but in the celebration of the completed work of a church being established by the grace of God. 

Then and Now…

It’s startling how little has changed since the first century: we’re still traveling, training, preaching, confronting obstacles, allocating resources, and appointing local leaders (Acts 14:23) for churches in population centers where people might otherwise never encounter a compelling case for Christianity. Like the churches planted in Acts 14, God is actively working to bring his work to beautiful completion in Cape Town, Harlem, Lagos, Paris, and too many other places to list. 

And like the partner church in Antioch, your partnership is playing a critical part in God’s work of grace.

Thank you for giving, fasting, and praying (Acts 14:23) for the sake of these churches and leaders. In so doing, you’re helping to write the book of Acts” for the 21st century. 

For Christ and His Kingdom,  Luke

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