A Meditation on ARBCA Church Planting Efforts
Like you, I’m very concerned to see the fulfillment of our Lord’s command to His churches, given first to the Apostles and passed from them to the congregations of His disciples that are ordered by His Word: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. We have received this as a command for preachers to preach the Word of Christ as Paul instructed in Romans 10:14-17. Every church member finds his place in this labor: faithful listening, financial support, fervent prayer, engaging invitations – all focused on helping the men who are called to preach and bringing others to hear that Word preached. We are all moved by Paul’s question: “…how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). So, we as churches support and send forth preachers to both near and far locations to preach Christ’s Word.
We’ve learned to expect different responses to the Word of Christ preached: indifference, rejection, mocking, and even persecution. However, our great desire is to see that which our Confession described in 14:1: “…the elect…enabled to believe to the saving of their souls [by] the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts….” Furthermore, we want to see that “grace of faith…increased and strengthened.” So what must we do? We must do all that our Lord has instructed us to do to send forth and facilitate that which the Holy Spirit ordinarily uses to accomplish this great work of sinners coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “the ministry of the Word”.
We are convinced that we best go to this work by the work of church planting. We attempt to find those men who are willing, trained, and capable of doing this Work. These are proven men; men we might set aside to the eldership in any one of our particular churches. We also attempt to find locations that in our Lord’s providence appear to be good places to send these proven men to take up the labor of planting a particular Reformed Baptist church.
To support this work as an association, we must work together in true unity of doctrine, with a commonly held understanding of the Gospel, so that we go to this work together, in communion. We must have had verifiable educational training and church association that gives cohesion to our communion and joint endeavor. Then we must recognize a particular church’s work in ordaining that man, and to some degree submitting ourselves to their judgment and work, so that we, on an associational level, join wholeheartedly in supporting that man and his labor in that place. This may be a somewhat drawn out process as we carefully obey our Savior’s commandment. He was careful in sending out church planters; we must follow His example and clear instructions in this regard.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Ok. I see this. I agree with this approach. What then am I to do?”
If you are a pastor of a Reformed Baptist church, you and your elders will need to cultivate and carry out a process of implementing the principles we have agreed to follow, trusting in our Lord’s provision as you go. You will need both a qualified man and a reasonable place if you are to make progress. If you are a church member, you need to pray and give financial support to the churches and men that are involved in this work, which your elders have set before you.
It is this last point that I want to emphasize. Pastors, I encourage you to find a way in your congregations to bring our ARBCA Church Planting efforts regularly before your fellow church members. Educate your congregations on the place and importance of Church Planting and of particular efforts of Church Planting. Bring the specific men and/or places before your fellow church members. As a church, pray for them specifically and faithfully. Find ways to support them financially. Make friends with one or more of the men involved so that you will have opportunity to encourage them and stay aware of their progress and needs.
Our church uses a prayer sheet to assist us in specific prayer requests. We keep the present ARBCA church planting endeavors listed on our prayer sheet, updating requests for the men and their nascent congregations, drawing attention to them in every Prayer Meeting of our church. You may find other ways to do this same thing.
Prayer is a stated means of grace; let’s use it faithfully to express our dependence on our Lord’s will and power. If the Spirit of God does not empower church planting labors, by blessing the preaching of the man ordained to that work, the work with fail. If we desire to see the Great Commission fulfilled, we need to be a people of prayer to that end. Paul sought such prayer: “[pray] …for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel….” Ephesians 6:19. So let us pray faithfully for the four Church Plants that our sister churches are currently attempting in Valley City, ND; San Tan Valley, AZ; Lookout Mountain, TN; and Longview, TX.
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