Updated: Nov 21, 2019
We shouldn’t assume that everyone knows why indigenous church planting should be the priority ministry and intentional end goal of missions. So here we’ll attempt to answer in brief:
Why is church planting primary? Why is church planting the big priority in missions?Why should every ministry seek to establish and strengthen indigenious local churches? What role does legitimate ministry to alleviate tragic human needs and even evangelism have in the priority list?
When the modern missionary candidate thinks of missions around the world, he/she is drawn to consider genuine, heart-stopping human needs. We think of many solutions to those needs that seem so accessible for us to offer to the needy world.Well-drillingWater supply projectsMedical clinicsStopping human traffickingSports evangelismMass evangelism meetingsAIDS preventionAIDS treatment & careAgriculture trainingAgricultural developmentSmall business loansCottage industry developmentTeaching EnglishComputer/IT trainingElectrical supply projectsReforestationDental clinics“Business As Mission”Sports training clinicsBusiness skills trainingOrphan careAgriculture trainingSmall business loansReforestation projectsTeaching English (TEFL/TESL)Business skills developmentSpecial skills development, e.g.:NGO service CarpentryAquaculture Cabinet-makingMicro-loan projects PlumbingBuilding or construction WeldingVBS or Bible clubs Auto mechanicsYouth camps Peddle-taxi, motorbike taxiYouth ministry EmbroideryMusic ministry Garment makingPoverty alleviation Jewelry making / HandicraftsDisaster relief & development WeavingPrevention of human trafficking Carpet makingPrimary health care PotteryAdoption services Wood carvingExpatriate services SculpturingCommunity leadership training ArtCommunity developmentLiterature ministryBible translationLiteracyRadio ministry
Yet, the greatest human need is for the Gospel. The consequences of sin and man’s sinful nature flood our emotions and mask discernment of that greatest need. Gripped by catastrophic human needs, sometimes actually having life and death in the balance, it’s easy to believe that those presenting symptoms must take precedence. In some cases, they must. Those spiritually lost may need to be rescued from death in order to even have a chance to hear to Gospel. Still, we can confuse “means” with “ends;” we mix up “strategies” with “results.” Our desire for holistic transformation of life and society can eclipse a clear biblical ambition for proclamation of the Gospel.
Ministry strategies that do not intentionally support the beginning, sustaining, and propagating of indigenous local churches fall short of the biblical ideal. Disciple-making is the core of the Great Commission. But the whole of the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without resulting in local churches. The baptizing, teaching, and obeying of “all I commanded you” takes place in the context of a mutual committed and worshiping body of believers. That is clearly what the first-century believers understood and did; they were the original recipients of the Great Commission. Planting churches is how they obeyed it.
It’s not too difficult to connect all these strategies with long-term resident church planting and development efforts. It IS easy to neglect doing so, to just operate those ministries as if they were an end to themselves.
Discipling of whole nations (people groups) involves those new ethnic converts organized into self-supporting, self-governing, self-propagating bodies of believers. As a body they portray Christ to their watching world in a thousand ways. They demonstrate lives committed to the “one another” commands of Scripture.
All these other ministries are good and legitimate means to the end of establishing indigenous local churches. All these other strategies build bridges, establish relationships, give opportunities, and facilitate the goal of planting churches. The local church is the God-ordained instrumental means of each people group reaching and discipling their own people group.
Local churches stay when foreign missionaries cannot. Local churches persist with the persecution gets hot. Local churches express the Gospel and transformational biblical truth in ways no other non-church ministry can.
Jesus said, “I will build My church.” Matt. 16:18 Paul wrote, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Eph. 5:25 Paul also writes, “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known … This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” Eph. 3:10-11 And, “ to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph 3:21
Let’s be all about church planting!