Jesus never called us to plant churches. He called us to make disciples. The very last words Jesus spoke to his disciples were these: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
We need to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. The task Jesus left for us is the multiplication of his disciples. We don’t want to be a dead end link in the chain of Christianity. The intention of Jesus is that we become like him, live like him, help others to do so, who in turn help others to do so. You and I are Christians today because others have lived in obedience to the great commission. Now you and I are part of that same ongoing work of God: not just for ourselves, not just for those we are discipling, but for those they will someday disciple as well. We are called to pass it on.
Church planting, at its most basic level, is a means to that end: a way to make disciples. If we aren’t making disciples, there’s no real point to most of the structures and activities that “church” usually involves. Consider what draws ministry leaders to church planting in the first place. Likely they wanted to reach a particular group of people with the message of the gospel. They wanted to make disciples. When we get into the nitty gritty of planting a church, we can’t lose sight of that original vision. That’s what it’s all about: making disciples.