Before I talk about church planting, and why Joshua and I desire to bring the hope of the Gospel through that means, I want to briefly explain what the Gospel is. It is futile to share how Joshua and I plan on doing anything if we do not first share what God has already done. We want to focus in on this good news, for without it there is no hope at all.
The glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
Very simply, the Gospel is good news.
Long ago, God created man in His own image and for His own glory. Adam, the first man, enjoyed sweet fellowship with God as he lived under God’s perfect care. However, Adam decided that he was a better provider than God. He turned from God and sought refuge in the works of His own hands. In doing so, he rebelled against God’s word and spurned His love. Sweet fellowship quickly became alienation. The Bible tells us that through Adam’s sin, death spread to all men (Romans 5:12), and every person born after Adam would soon follow in their father’s footsteps – turning from God in rebellion and spurning His love, including you and me.
But in His grace, God gave Adam a precious promise. He said, in effect, “Your offspring will crush the head of the serpent, the one who tempted you to turn from me” (see Genesis 3). This Offspring would be born much later through the loins of Abram, God’s friend. To Abram, God made another promise: that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-3). Through him, salvation would come to people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Revelation 5:9).
Finally, at the fullness of time, God sent forth His own Son, Jesus. Jesus as the second, better Adam, was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Adam and Abram. Jesus was sent by God to represent man to God. He lived the life we were commanded to live and died the death we deserved to die for our sin. Jesus, as both God and man, lived precisely how God commanded Adam to live. Jesus did what no other human could do: obey God perfectly. And through Him, any and all who trust in His perfect sacrifice, God promises to save from His wrath owed them for their rebellion. This is truly good news!
The Good News…declared!
Jesus then, after bearing God’s wrath for our sin, resurrected from the dead and ascended into Heaven. However, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He filled them with power. What was the purpose of such supernatural power? God wanted the Good News about His Son to be spread throughout the whole world, and these new believers would need His power to become His witnesses to declare the message – especially in the face of persecution and rejection. The Book of Acts is the story of ordinary men (again, like you and me), called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey Jesus’ command to “go into the whole world and make disciples of all people” (Matthew 28:19).
From the very first scene, we see Peter (one of the twelve original disciples) standing before a crowd in Jerusalem giving witness to the resurrected Christ (see Acts 2). On that Day, Pentecost, over 3,000 people believed in Jesus! This day marked the beginning of God’s plan to plant His worldwide Church. And from that day until this, God continues to call His lost children via the Good News of the Gospel preached through His Spirit-empowered saints. Every time a person places their trust in Jesus by believing the Gospel message, they become a part of God’s worldwide family.
This indeed is the message that Joshua and I hope to bring to a people far away from God. We have great compassion on those lost in their sins, because we ourselves were once far from God, but have brought near to Him through Jesus’ work (the Gospel!) on our behalf.
An example of Gospel-empowered church planting
Now, you may be wondering – why another church plant? We believe that the Great Commission is the mandate from our resurrected Savior to make disciples of all people. When we look through the Book of Acts, we see faithful believers moving throughout the ancient world and preaching the Good News to people everywhere. And the evidence is clear – people who believed found a common bond through their interaction with their fellow believers. They began to meet to worship, study the Scriptures, and minister to people in need. In effect, dozens of churches throughout Palestine and Asia Minor were planted, many thousands of people came to Christ, and today – every true believer is now a child of God because of the efforts of those first century Christians.
Allow me to give you an example of these efforts. While in prison, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae. In his letter, he took this established and thriving church back to its roots when they first heard the Gospel message from Epaphras. Epaphras first heard about Christ through the missionary efforts of Paul, probably while in Ephesus. Upon hearing and believing, Epaphras took the hope of the Gospel back to the Lycus Valley where he begin to live out his faith among those in Colossae. We don’t have specific details about his vocation, but we do know that this church was planted by him (Colossians 1:7-8), and quite possibly the church at Laodicea (4:16).
We see here the effect of the Gospel proclaimed – how one transformed man took the Gospel to a place that was given over to paganism but soon became the home of a fruit-bearing church known for its “faith in Christ Jesus and its love for all the saints” (1:4). This little church planted by a church planter named Epaphras is just one example of how the Gospel was, is, and will forever be growing in the world via the mouths and lives of people just like you and me who have been ransomed by sin’s grasp. Christ declared to Peter: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), and He has been doing so for over 2,000 years.
We believe that this kind of ministry – reaching into the lives of people far from God through church planting – is one of the most effective ways under heaven of reaching God’s lost children. We readily admit that we have much to learn about the actual process of planting, but are excited as we anticipate what lies ahead.
Our hope and prayer is that Joshua and I will employ nothing less than the same methods in the city we land in that Epaphras employed in Colossae. Epaphras lived as a “sent one,” on mission in his city, proclaiming the resurrected Savior who loved the world and gave Himself for it. This, we believe, is the mission God is calling us to, to go to a people who are far from God – but by His grace will be brought near through the blood of Christ.