Note: This blog entry is excerpted and adapted from my upcoming book, tentatively titled The Church Planting Journey. We’ll be posting excerpts about once a month here and we’d love to hear feedback from you. We hope you are getting as excited about it as we are! And as we get closer to publication, we’ll give you the countdown!
Jesus never commanded us to start churches. He commanded us to make disciples. After the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit, that’s when churches happened. Church planting is a byproduct of making disciples. If you make disciples, they naturally form into churches. Our mission—the one given us by Jesus—is to make disciples.
If you start churches primarily through gathering people who are already Christians, it may be difficult to engage in the disciplemaking process. That’s not to say that you don’t start with a core of believers, but they need to engage alongside you from the very beginning to focus on people who are not yet Christians. That’s what shapes the DNA.
If we keep our focus on making disciples, churches will form and develop and grow. Conversely, if we do not make disciples, we are simply rearranging people who are already part of churches. Rather than taking an us vs. them approach with other churches, let us live out the great commission in a great commandment kind of way: being Kingdom people who are about making disciples for the Kingdom, not bringing Christians into our own churches.
That is the ultimate DNA of church planting: it’s about the Kingdom of God, not individual churches. Individual churches are a means, a vehicle for making disciples. The main point is making disciples who make disciples who make disciples… with all generations of disciples living out the DNA of the Kingdom of God as expressed in the life of Jesus in the gospel accounts.
This is the disciple-making work of the church. We take our cues from the Holy Spirit. We look to see where God is at work and join him in his mission. It’s not of God getting on board with our mission, but of us getting on board with his mission: the mission of making disciples.