church planting in the NT
The New Testament knows nothing of this language of “church planting.”
Huh. That might be a shock for some.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge advocate for church planting and for missional leadership. Ah! There is a clue. But how did we get from partnering with God on mission.. something that most of us will identify with a New Testament perspective.. to this language of “church planting.” What are the real differences anyway? What biblical anchors do we find, and how might that impact this perspective and language we use so commonly?
I don’t have time to work through a formal study. These thoughts came yesterday and they are really only an outline. For what it’s worth, here they are.
I think “church planting” language and practices were largely birthed in modernity in a technocratic frame. It was about intentionality; it was about church growth based on the whole sociology of the movement; it was about evangelism and church extension. By virtue of this latter item it was often “cloning” and colonial (resistance is futile!)
Essentially, church planting in modernity was an ecclesial movement more than a kingdom movement. It was a Christendom frame. It was centered on the church and not on God’s mission. And it tended toward the narrowness we have mostly critiqued to death – personal salvation, individual conversion, without a broader framework for the gospel and God’s work in redemption. One only has to read Missional Church or Stormfront or The Shaping of Things to Come or be familiar with the work of NT Wright to fill in the details here.
So where do we start today to talk about “church planting?” What anchors can we use for a missional frame here?
One could begin with Isaiah 42 and Isaiah 61, then move to Luke 4. The issue is partnering with God in His mission. What is God’s heart for the world? We see the heart of the Father in the life and work of Jesus. He heals the blind, heals the sick, delivers the oppressed from demons, and declares the good news of God’s covenant love to the poor. He also faithfully upholds the seasons and cares for the birds of the air. He then commissions his followers and anoints them with the Spirit to carry on his work. Let me try a Trinitarian statement:
“Church planting” is a work of the Spirit in forming new communities (a new humanity) as we partner with the Father in his mission of re-creation by lifting up Jesus.
A lot more could be said.. maybe you would like to say it