There are lots of opinions on the best and most effective ways to plant new churches. The best method is probably the one that actually gets put into action instead of just discussed. But as I pondered the earthly ministry of our Lord, I thought how he planted His church was worth noting.
For the foundational leaders, He selected men who had knowledge of the Word of God, but were not (it appears) in active leadership roles where they worshipped. He chose hard working men, men from occupations that required determination and persistence.
He also picked men who did not need to be patted on the back or shown appreciation by those around them. Tax collectors and fishermen were not noted for seeking public opinion.
Once He put this group together, they were continually at His elbow. For the next three years they tasted the dust of the roads He walked, ate at His table, bumped against the sick and maimed who came to Him for healing. They watched as mud balls became eye balls and dead children came alive. Their fingers tore thousands of pieces of fish from two small fish a little boy shared from his lunch.
After they walked with Him a little while, He paired them up and sent them out on their own for a short venture. He didn’t send them alone lest they become frightened or discouraged, but He blessed them with a partner to bolster their faith. They all returned amazed that they were able to do what Jesus did.
Then they returned to walking with Him again. They watched and listened as He prayed. They became familiar with His routine. They listened to Him preach and teach.
Toward the end of the three years, He began to prepare them for what was to come. He let them know that He wouldn’t be with them, but that He would always be in them. He let His words simmer in their souls, gradually teaching them concepts that would be critical in the days to come. He built their faith. He let them see and feel the struggle.
Then came the shock of His arrest and crucifixion. Those hours of loneliness and despair.
Then, suddenly, He was back! For the next forty days, He taught until all they had seen and heard for the past forty months made sense.
Then He commanded them to not leave Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Ghost.
Then He left them again. Leaving the future of His church in their hands.
Some would say they were inexperienced, unproven. Perhaps they were in some ways. But their faith was perfect and that is what mattered. He will build His church – not with talent or wealth, but with faithful servants.
Paul knew this and told the young pastor he was training to commit this Word to faithful men.
Is it practical to pattern ministry like this? Can a proven man of God spend three years with a dozen hungry and faithful young men and then watch them change the world?
I am a strong proponent of Bible college and higher education, but would something like this be more effective in the Kingdom?
I’m not sure, but the concept is captivating. Could we evangelize our large cities like this? What if ten twentysomethings spent the next three years working in D.C. with Jerry Staten? Others with successful pioneers in other cities? In three years, we could have 50 passionate and faithful apostles turned loose in North America!
It may just be the dream of an old man, but pondering it makes me wish I was twenty again.
What do you think? Leave a comment.