The Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ is a command for his Church to carry the good news of the gospel of Christ to every urban center, street corner, African bungalow, and farmhouse across the globe. We are called by God to take the gospel to the nations, giving people the opportunity to turn from sin, believe in Christ Jesus, and have the opportunity to spiritually mature in him.
In recent years, the North American Mission Board has restructured, retooled, and reengaged with the primary task of planting churches. I am thrilled at what NAMB, under the leadership of Kevin Ezell, is doing to mobilize churches to focus on key influential cities, where most of the population in the U.S. live.
But it takes lots of people and lots of money over a long period of time to plant healthy churches. Championing church planting in key and influential cities must be elevated. I gladly give each year to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and encourage your church to give as well. But we must not delegate our church planting to just giving money and not sending people. While NAMB focuses on 32 cities across the U.S.,local churches that do not live in these 32 cities must take up the responsibility to invest in new churches around their own cities, wherever that might be. Most likely, there is great need for new churches around the surrounding cities and communities where your church is located. Gospel work in many of these smaller cities can become dry and stale. While faithful churches exist, some may drift into religious clubs that make it difficult for new people to feel welcome, be reached, or hear the true gospel.
Recently my church, Cross Church, decided to plant a church in Neosho, Missouri. A small group of people had a burden for their city and approached our leadership about possibly planting a church in Neosho. We prayed and researched and on Easter 2014 launched Cross Church Neosho. Through the members of Cross Church, we were able to renovate a small facility, send teams of volunteers to canvass and invite, as well as mobilize hundreds of people to pray for this community. Within the last year, we have hired staff members and helped this church get established and growing. Cross Church, including those who attend at Neosho and our church family as a whole, has seen many reached for Christ, baptized, and now living on mission in this city because of this strategic effort.
Why Neosho, Missouri? It’s not St. Louis, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, or Los Angeles. It doesn’t boast a population of 5 million. It doesn’t have a gigantic centralized city with Fortune 500 companies. You probably have never even heard of Neosho, Missouri. We invested money, resources, and people in this church plant because every person matters to God. In Neosho, there are 31,000 people within a 10-mile radius. 31,000 people, each created by God, each bitten by the fall and headed towards a Christ-less eternity in hell, and each deserving of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are not to neglect our own backyards and surrounding communities when it comes to gospel advancement. Planting a church in your city by sending out some of your church members to start a new work must become key to your church strategy. Too many of our pastors see launching leaders as losing leaders. This is a detriment to the advancement of the gospel. Seizing the opportunity to help people get a fire for the Great Commission and the fame of Jesus around your city, and then launching them to plant the gospel in a community in your city is true Kingdom work. God will bring new leaders to your church and fill the void when we are faithful to send people out.
We may never know what planting one church in Neosho, Missouri might mean for future generations. The salvation stories of many of the greatest preachers and revivalists in church history began with small churches who faithfully sowed the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of its families. May we pray to that end.
-Ronnie Parrot (@ronniep)