Author: DR. EARL JESSUP
Baptist Church Planting Ministry believes that new churches should be reproduced by a local church and not by a church planter. What we mean by this is that local churches should take an active role in the church planting process and not just a passive role. We believe that every decision should be finalized by the pastor of the reproducing church and not by the one pastoring the new church or by anyone else. This includes Baptist Church Planting Ministry. Whenever we get involved in helping a church reproduce a new church, one of the first things we discuss is who will make all final decisions. We believe that should be done by the pastor of the reproducing church and no one else. This does not mean that the one pastoring the new church or anyone else in the ministry does not have involvement. Everyone is involved; it simply means that since the church is reproducing the church, the pastor of that church should make all final decisions.
This philosophy is wonderful to believe, but how does it stand the test of the Word of God? It is important to examine this philosophy in light of the Scriptures.
I. THE CHURCH IS A LIVING ORGANISM
First of all, we believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because the church is a living organism, not an organization. Ephesians 5:28-32 makes it clear that the relationship between Christ and the church is compared to the relationship between a husband and wife. In 1 Corinthians 12, the church is mentioned as a body. Revelation 22: 17, the church is called the “bride.” These verses clearly indicate the church is a living organism.
II. ORGANISMS REPRODUCE AFTER THEIR KIND
Secondly, we believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because every living organism reproduces “after its kind.” Since the church is a living organism, churches should reproduce churches. In Genesis 1, we find verse after verse talking about living organisms reproducing after their kind. Should the church be exempt from reproducing “after their kind”? We do not think so. Some have tried to say that churches reproduce churches when they send out a missionary to plant a new church. How many organisms reproduce without the active involvement of the parent? Some will say that this eliminates “pioneer church planting,” but we do not believe it does. We believe there are times when a pioneer work needs to be done, but much of the church planting today does not need to be done independently of local churches in the area. The main reason it is done is because the church planter or some other organization wants the control and final authority rather than allowing the local church to fulfill her role in reproducing the new church.
When a new church is reproduced, it should be similar to the reproducing church. It does not mean that it will be exactly like the reproducing church. No child is exactly like his parents. He is similar or “after their kind,” but is distinctively different from the parents in many ways. New churches take on the personality of the pastor and the people that attend the new church. Some may give the new church the same name as the reproducing church. This happens in homes as well. We all know children that are named after the father, but it does not mean that it must be so.
III. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS GIVEN TO THE LOCAL CHURCH
We believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because the Great Commission is given to the local church to fulfill. In Matthew 28:16-20, it is true that Jesus was talking with His disciples when He gave the commandment to reach this world with the gospel. If He were just giving this to the disciples, then we would not be responsible for the fulfilling of the Great Commission. The disciples are long gone, but we still have the responsibility of reaching this world with the gospel. Some will conclude it is given to individuals to fulfill. We do not believe that individuals have the right to baptize outside the local church. It is an ordinance of the local church and therefore baptism should take place within the confines of the local church. The Great Commission was given to the local church and therefore it is the responsibility of the local church to fulfill it. The Great Commission is not given to church planters, to mission boards, or to any other organization. It is given to the local church.
IV. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS CHURCH PLANTING
Matthew 28:18- 20
We believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because the Great Commission is church planting. We have said many times that the Great Commission is not soul-winning and it is not. Soul-winning is only one third of the Great Commission. According to Matthew 28: 19-20, the Great Commission is evangelize, “teach all nations,” baptize, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” and mobilize, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This is church planting and nothing short of it. The Great Commission is given to the local church to carry out and implement in reaching this world for Christ.
Many churches believe that they can effectively minister a great distance from their local church. They run bus routes as much as thirty miles and more from the local church to bring people to the services. It is wonderful to evangelize these people and win them to Christ. Many of these are also baptized in the local church. This too is commendable, but is still short of fulfilling the Great Commission. We are to “teach them to observer all things” and this can only be done as people are faithful to the local church every time the door is open. When someone lives too far from the local church, they cannot be as faithful as they should be. Therefore, the third part of the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled. The only way to fulfill the Great Commission is to plant a church in the community where these people live so they can attend every service and grow.
V. CHRIST TOLD THE LOCAL CHURCH WHERE THEY SHOULD PLANT CHURCHES
We believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because Christ gave the local church the area to reach with the Great Commission when we are told in Acts 1:8 that we are to go into Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. The Jerusalem church fulfilled this, even though God had to bring about persecution to the church in Jerusalem to carry it out. In Acts 1:8, God scattered the believers in the Jerusalem church into Judea and Samaria by persecution that was brought upon the church. Please notice that only the believers were scattered, not the apostles. In Acts 8:4, they went everywhere preaching the Word. The result of this preaching and dispersion was the reproducing of churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria as we see in Acts 9:31. You will also note that the churches were multiplied. This clearly indicates that many churches were reproduced by laymen from the Jerusalem church.
In Acts 11: 19, we find these same believers traveling to Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch where they were now able to preach to the Gentiles. This indicates that the church in Jerusalem developed a philosophy of ministry that included the reproducing of local churches. These laymen were now going out on purpose to reproduce churches. You will also note that the first pastor of this church was Barnabas and he was sent to pastor this church from Jerusalem and by the leadership of the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:22). Thus, the Jerusalem church was responsible for the pastor of the church. He then found Paul and the two of them pastored this church for more than a year prior to their first missionary journey (Acts 11:26). From this church, we have the great mission outreach of the Apostle Paul bringing the gospel to the regions beyond. This clearly indicates that the church at Jerusalem took an active role in reproducing churches.
Some have suggested that we place too much emphasis on the local church when we get involved in reproducing a new church. We will allow you to draw your own conclusion on this matter. However, we believe just the opposite. We do not think one can give enough emphasis to the
local church in this matter of reproducing churches. It is not the responsibility of the church planter to plant a church. It is not the responsibility of mission boards to plant churches. It is the responsibility of local churches to reproduce churches, and BCPM will do all we can to help the local church fulfill her responsibility in reproducing churches. We believe the Bible backs up our philosophy of churches reproducing churches.