7 Practical Steps to Planting Reproducing Churches
God has a beautiful strategy for reaching the world through multiplying churches.
The ultimate goal of all disciple-making and leadership development to planting churches that multiply.
We can better understand the biblical mandate of planting fellowships of disciples that multiply themselves by exploring the following;
When we study the New Testament churches, we learn some key principles. We should use to plant reproducing fellowships anywhere.
Let’s look at seven steps that any fellowship of disciples can implement anywhere in the world.
Prayer is of vital importance and is the first priority in multiplying churches. When we pray, God will open closed doors. Prayer first of all moves our hearts and puts our desires in line with God’s desires. When God opens our eyes to see the lost state of our communities, we will be moved with compassion to open our homes so as to start new fellowships. If we are willing, God is able to fill us with His Spirit for His glory.
Jesus Himself commands us to “ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).
Prayer provides direction so God can show us where He is at work. And where He wants us to be involved.
In his strategy, Paul had a plan to reach the Jews and the Gentiles. But his plans were sometimes changed by the Spirit of God. He was very sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and was willing to change his own plans to follow the plans of God (Acts 11:27-30; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 16:6-10; Acts 8:9-10).
Paul was very open to the Spirit—that is why he said, “But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, God willing I will come to you” (1 Corinthians 4:19). We also need to pray so that we know God’s plan.
After prayer has confirmed the place where God wants you to be involved. Why not do a survey and study the target people and the area.
It is very important to know the culture (language, customs, religion, social structure) of the people.
Prayer walks, literature distribution, film shows, small business development, and music may help in establishing contacts and finding the “man of peace”—the families or the communities in the area who are receptive to you and the Spirit (Mark 6:10-11). This will help in strategic discernment and effective approaches to the community by identifying the spiritual battleground and the responsiveness of the people groups.
Lessons From The Old Testament
In the Old Testament, Moses sent 12 leaders to do a survey of the land that God had promised to give them (Numbers 13:17-20).
After Moses passed away, Joshua also did a similar thing by sending leaders to do a survey of Jericho.
Jesus likewise sent His disciples ahead of Him to prepare the way (Luke 10:1).
As you survey a region, prayerfully respond to the following questions:
What locations are most strategic?
Paul’s whole strategy was to plant churches in major towns. Paul went into big cities of a region (Acts 16:9-12; Acts 18:1, Acts 18:18-22; Acts 19:1-10) and planted churches in those strategic cities.
Paul recognized that the way to most permanently influence a country was by planting vibrant churches in strategic cities. Once he had accomplished this, he moved on, knowing that the rest would follow. That is why he said that he had “fully preached” the Gospel in a region and that he had “no more place . . . to work in these regions” (Romans 15:19, Romans 15:23).
This, however, does not imply that it is wrong to plant a church in a smaller town or village if that is clearly God’s direction. It is critical to seek God’s direction.
What is the best approach for this people group?
Consider whether it is possible to send someone as a church planter or if another method is needed. Perhaps a small business is a good way to gain an entrance into this location. This is the reason that Global Disciples includes Small Business Development (SBD) training as part of our Multiplying Churches Strategy.
You may also recognize specific physical needs of a community which can be an open door to bringing the Gospel.
Who are the key influencers?
Try to discover who holds influence in the location you are trying to reach. These influencers may or may not hold positions of authority and may or may not be open to the Gospel (Acts 8:26-38; Acts 10; Acts 16). But if the key influencers can be reached first with the Gospel, a church can be established much more quickly.
Jesus talks about “the man of peace” (Luke 10:6) and encourages His disciples to work closely with this person. Prayerfully ask God to reveal these key people to you and your team.
What are the key areas of opposition?
Build a team (Luke 8:1-3)
Planting and multiplying churches is the work that requires a team; it is not an individual effort.
One person will not have all the gifting and skills to do all the different ministries that are needed to plant churches. Jesus, the Master church planter, sent His disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1).
Paul also took someone with him in his church planting ventures and, at various times, included many on his team over his years of ministry—Barnabas, John Mark, Titus, Silas, Timothy, Priscilla, Aquila (Acts 15:40; Acts 16:1; Acts 18:18; Romans 12:6-9; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 16:15- 16). In the same way, if we want to reach the least-reached peoples, we need to form a strategic church planting team.
The team will certainly include those whom God has specifically called to take the Gospel to new areas. While it is the responsibility of every believer to witness in their community, there are those who have the ability and call to go out to new areas.
For example, Paul and Barnabas were set apart by the Holy Spirit from the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3); the church leaders prayed for them and commissioned them to go and multiply churches where there was no witness for Christ.
The team will not only include those who go but also persons committed to pray and support the church planting effort.
Establish a presence
To multiply churches, we should identify ourselves with the communities we want to reach by establishing a presence among them.
Jesus came and lived among those He was trying to reach. Paul also identified himself quickly with those he tried to reach; he became a servant to all to save them by sacrificing his comfort (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). In Athens, he talked about the “unknown God” (Acts 17:22-24)—he contextualized the Gospel according to the place and culture.
When we live and identify with the people we plan to reach, joining with them in their joys and sorrows, it builds trust. It also calls for sacrifice, and we must often lay down our own preferences to reach others with the Gospel—especially if we are across cultures. If we go to reach a vegetarian community, be a vegetarian to identify with them!
Again, in many locations, business is a great way to establish a presence in a community. A business opens doors and builds relationships with many people in a community (Acts 18:1-4). If you are sending out a church planter, consider funding the startup cost of a small business instead of long-term monthly support.
As you establish a presence in a community, continue to look for the “person of peace” whom God has prepared for the message. In most communities, the family head will be a key influencer. It is worth the special effort of a church planter to focus on these persons.
Lead People to Jesus (Romans 10:13-15)
Prayerfully look for people who will willingly give their lives to follow Christ. Be alert to the many ways in which God may call people to Himself. This may happen simply as you live among them and represent Jesus to them. If you’re using a business, they may see a difference in the way that you treat them or your willingness to pray for them in the name of Jesus.
In some contexts, you may use literature, door-to-door evangelism methods, film showings. You may find that people are open to study the Bible with you.
Some have found it helpful to begin studying Scripture from the account of Creation and slowly work through the Old Testament before coming to the New Testament stories of Jesus. This may take much time, but it can be a very effective way of teaching people the heart of God.
Evangelism And Technology
Consider appropriate use of technology as well—cell phones, Facebook, Instagram, and satellite television are all ways that God can use to speak to people. Again, the context of the culture will help to shape the method you use.
The New Testament evangelism method was focused on reaching the entire family by reaching the family heads. Targeting family leaders who would bring their whole households to Christ is the most strategic and fruitful way to plant churches in least-reached areas. There are many biblical examples of this—Peter, who preached to the household of Cornelius (Acts 10); Paul, who preached to Lydia with all members of her household (Acts 16:14-15) as well as to the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31-33); the households of Stephen, Philemon, and others as well that were won over (1 Corinthians 1:16; Philemon 2; 2 Timothy 1:16). As they won the head of the house, they brought their whole family, and churches were established.
6. Disciple People
Wherever Paul went and met people who were hungry for salvation, he preached the Gospel and baptized those who gave their lives to follow Christ.
Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).
As soon as people give their lives to the Lordship of Jesus, teach them to renounce any old ways of living—idol worship, evil spirits, practices of magic and witchcraft, immoral practices—and pray for their deliverance. This is the right time to instruct them to live lives of discipleship.
There is no need to hurry to baptize them before they make the right decision (Acts 2:38-40). In some contexts, it may be wise to wait until several people or a group of people are ready for baptism together.
After baptism, instruct them to devote themselves to the studying and teaching of the Word of God, to prayer, to fellowship, to breaking bread together, and to serving their world.
7. Raise, Train, and Appoint Leaders
Jesus, the master builder of His Church, called, trained, and sent people very specifically to build His own Church (Mark 3:13-15).
The apostles did what they saw Jesus doing. Following in the footsteps of Jesus, we need to give priority to training and appointing leaders who will take care of the established fellowships and continue to reproduce churches. Selection and training of the leaders can be done according to the personal gifting and calling of individuals.
Paul chose leaders to be in charge of the fellowships which he planted (1 Corinthians 1:14-16; Acts 18:8). Paul also visited the churches he planted to encourage, strengthen, and correct them (Acts 15:36; Acts 14:21-23; Acts 16:1-5; Acts 18:23; Acts 20:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 16:5-7; 2 Corinthians 13:9-10). Writing epistles was also a part of his follow-up work.
In some places he spent more time to equip the disciples. For example, he spent one and half years in Corinth (Acts 18:11) and three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31) teaching on the word of God. In the same way, we also need to give attention to the churches planted.
Unless the church we plant takes the responsibility of reaching others and planting reproducing fellowships of disciples, we have not completed our work.
Paul equipped and appointed leaders to continue the multiplication of churches in their region. Specifically, he told Titus to, “appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5).
We need to train every member of the newly established church to share their faith with others and to make disciples. During this process, many of them will grow as disciples who will go and make disciples and plant churches. This kind of multiplying churches will become a church-planting movement that continues to multiply churches.
You’ve got a vital part to play!
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One-third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective strategy of training and coaching, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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