The Primacy of the Local Church should also help the mission board make church planting its primary concern (maybe only concern). The main focus of a home mission board should be the planting of churches. It should be a church planting network. Why? Jesus promised that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18), not just save individual people. When the Church at Antioch sent Paul out to accomplish the Great Commission he went planting churches not just evangelizing individuals disconnected from a community of believers. Christ is purchasing and building a people who are in community with one another (Acts 2:42-47). The local church is the manifestation of Christ’s Kingdom community on earth. So, the local church is the body commissioned by King Jesus with the task of carrying the Gospel forward. This is done as the Gospel is declared with our lips and displayed with our actions. The primary way that the Gospel is to be displayed is in the way in which believers within local churches demonstrate the cross-love of Jesus of Nazareth as they take care of one another (cf. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:10-23). This will mean meeting the needs of those in the family of faith first of all, but also displaying mercy to those in the larger community. The Church is the community commissioned to take care of the needs of people (not the government), both chief needs (salvation) and felt needs (mercy ministry). The Church is commissioned with discipling and training its people, more so than seminaries or bible colleges. Finally, the Church is the chosen vehicle that demonstrates to the Prince of the Power of the Air that his rule has ended. Therefore, to be of utmost effectiveness, a home mission board should be about planting these “outposts of the Kingdom”. Why do we say all this about the church? Because the Church will most effectively meet the problems in our cities and country. So, it is our job to plant as many of them as we can to address the great need of the world. If we plant healthy, vibrant churches we will experience better missions, better mercy ministries, better discipleship, better church planting, resurgence of baptisms, and more ministers called out. A great article to read about the church and parachurch ministry is an article by Russell Moore entitled, “Jesus Didn’t Die for Your Campus Ministry.”
The Primacy of the Local Church will set in place a Church-focused Strategy. Here is the strategy, “Find the churches who are already planting healthy churches and let them set the pace.” The main strategy of this church planting network should be to find churches that are planting well, support them, and teach others to follow their pattern. The mission board should find those churches that have the vision to do this and have a track record of doing it well. There are many examples here to follow. One pattern could be that of FBC Woodstock and Pastor Johnny Hunt. They pick strategic areas that need churches and they bring in men who they think are capable of planting and they train them on site for nearly six months. They train additional staff for a couple of months and they encourage people to go with the church planting team and make up the church’s initial core group. They then send them out with great financial resources. These churches have proven to be successful. Here is what Danny Akin said about them in an interview in 2008 with the Western Recorder, “First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., which has started three churches in the Las Vegas, Nev., area and funded them initially with $500,000 each. Each church now runs more than 1,000 members.” This is a model to emulate. The church planting network should come along side of a church like Woodstock by: 1) giving them the resources necessary to do this on an even greater scale and 2) helping them model this for other churches. For churches that are smaller, they could emulate churches like Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC (here is a baptist21 podcast with Open Door’s Pastor Dwayne Milioni). So far Open Door has planted 3 churches with 3 more in the works very soon. All of them are viable and the plants are even looking themselves to plant other churches. Open Door has planted on a small scale because of resource limitations, but if they were to be aided by a church planting network they could send many more out. For very small churches, this church planting network could help them form “networks” or associations with other local churches in which they pool money together and help each other plant churches. The main call of the board should be to come along side all these churches and help them plant. Churches that for whatever reason feel that they absolutely cannot plant but still have a passion to see churches planted in order to reach North America would still be able to give to the church planting network to be a part of something greater than themselves through the Cooperative Program.
Jon and Nathan Akin
Part 3 of this series will deal with streamlining this church planting network