Church Planting and the Apostles’ Doctrine

Immediately after the birth of the New Testament Church on the Day of Pentecost, we read where the believers gathered together to form a community of fellowship, prayer and doctrinal instruction. (Acts 2:42) I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and pondering a few areas as it relates to church planting. My focus rests upon a simple question:

In the NT how much doctrinal instruction was expected before other church planters (apostles/missionaries) were sent out?

There would seem to be two extremes. First, there is the position that only those officially trained in Seminary are qualified to hold such a position. Second, there is the position that anyone with a burden should be sent out as soon as possible. The former turns the church planting into a slow and almost non-existent process and seems to violate the New Testament norm and would even disqualify the twelve apostles. (Acts 4:13) The later may multiply quickly, but it opens the door for all types of heresy and catastrophes caused by novice leaders. (1Tim. 3:6)

Couple this with the fact that the early Apostles did not have a written doctrinal statement to use for class room instruction, or even a completed New Testament text. Therefore, what did they demand for future leaders to understand before sending them Continue reading “Church Planting and the Apostles’ Doctrine”

Get Dirt Under Our Fingernails

Church planting isn’t for the faint of heart. Neither is evangelism and outreach. Both require men and women who are willing to place their life, substance, families, careers and talents on the line for the sake of the kingdom of God. We can learn a lot more about church planting and outreach from a group of farmers than we can from a group of businessmen. The similarities of a farmer and a church planter, or one given to outreach, are enlightening to say the least.

Church planting is messy – The gospel is not made for the ivory and glass towers of social comfort. Men are dying without Christ and need to be rescued. However, getting into their lives can be messy and complicated. But, let us remember that we have the answer, and we must not shrink back from the call. After all, Jesus is our example and our messy lives did not keep Him from entering our world of sin and shame.

Church planting is a challenge – Farming requires the challenge to break up hard ground in preparation of the seed. Likewise, people can be hard and afraid to trust others, and for good reason. Let us be genuine friends to sinners, and let us have pure motives. Men will open up the issues of their life if they feel we are honest, respectful and caring. Continue reading “Get Dirt Under Our Fingernails”

Persecution and the Power of the Gospel

Sometimes, it is in the midst of persecution when Jesus reveals Himself as the Great Shepherd…protecting his sheep with His faithful hands. That is certainly true in this story. Through PROJECT INDIA we have planted 19 churches in the three months of December ’11 through February ’12, with well over 500 new souls brought to Christ and added to these fellowships. We knew it was only a matter of time before the enemy would show his colors and begin to bring persecution. Several events have taken place, but I want to share a special story which is still unfolding. (Names are changed for security reasons!)

In one of the villages Bro. Anand, our PROJECT INDIA church planter, led Mary to Christ. Her salvation, like many others in the villages we are reaching, is from a life of idolatry in the religious practice of Hinduism. However, Mary’s story goes beyond that…as her father is the Brahma Priest who leads worship in one of the local Hindu Temples. Therefore, her family is from the highest caste in Indian culture and has little to do with the lower castes. Continue reading “Persecution and the Power of the Gospel”

Sprinting Toward Death….Finding Life

Death and despair have their strongholds in every culture and among all social classes. The human soul was created to be in fellowship with it’s Creator. However, when men and women have not heard the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, death appears to be the quick exit from pain, agony and emptiness. This is the back drop to the story of mankind in general, and to the following story in particular. (names changed for security reasons)

Lexi is a young lady in a rural village in India. Her young  life had come crashing down as the Doctor informed her she had HIV/AIDS. It was a death sentence. A result from a life of prostitution. However, the pain became even more intense when she was betrayed by close friends who shared her plight with the locals and brought even more pressure to bear upon her heart as she became an outcast to her village. The village Elders asked her to leave and not come back.

As a Hindu and a believer in re-incarnation, Lexi began the journey to bring about change in her life. She desired to end her present life and have a re-incarnation to a better life. She planned to accomplish this by casting herself into the nearby river to be taken down by the whirlpool. She ran, with tears in her eyes and brokenness in her heart….she sprinted toward death! Continue reading “Sprinting Toward Death….Finding Life”

ReThinking Church, Part 8 – Church Planting is NOT the Mission

Now, before you have a stroke, let me explain. Of course church planting is part of the overall strategy of evangelism and the spread of the Gospel. However, if we count the establishing or planting of a church as the final goal, we miss the heart of Jesus and the example of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts.

When church planting becomes the mission, several destructive issues arise.

  • Power Play – Fight over who’s boss (Can involve family ties, social clicks, racial profiling, etc…)
  • Satisfaction – We have arrived.
  • Pride – Look what we have accomplished.
  • Inertia – At ease in Zion.
  • Self Absorbed – Can we build a larger building to impress the community. (Of course, the building is always for the ‘Glory of God.’ …sarcasm intended.)
  • Old Testament Paradigm – Come and hear, as opposed to New Testament model of ‘go and tell.’

The above problems, and many others associated with them, is what we see in the majority of fellowships in America.  However, these all contrast the teachings of Jesus and the outworking of His teachings which are demonstrated through the early church, Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 8 – Church Planting is NOT the Mission”

Suffer the Little Children

A casual read through the gospels will reveal our Lord’s special love for children and His desire for us to have their disposition. There is a tender innocence toward faith and teachability which Jesus recognized in the children of his culture, and He pointed this out in several of His teachings to the disciples. When our Lord walked the shores of Galilee, one thing was for sure… children were dear to His heart and were given free access into His presence.

We read about God’s love for them from “their angels always see the face the Father” (Mt. 18:2,10) and “except you be converted and become as little children” (Mt. 18:3), to “suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 19:13-15) We read the passages and discover how the Lord used them as examples of what we should be. Also, James instructs us that pure religion and undefiled before our heavenly Father is to visit the “widows and the orphans in their affliction.” (James 1:27)

With that in mind, several have asked how Susanne and I began the orphanage in India. Here is the brief story behind the PROJECT INDIA Orphanage. Continue reading “Suffer the Little Children”