A while back, a friend challenged me to write down a few questions that might be helpful for a church planter to consider prior to actually attempting to start a church. He knew I have strong convictions about not just church planting, but also about which indicators confirm a local “healthy church” based on the truths revealed in God’s word. He also knew that my perspective has been shaped by having had the privilege of planting a church in another country and also in the U.S.
I explained to my friend a biblically “healthy” follower of Jesus and local healthy church, whether it is just beginning or already exists, will demonstrate they truly have God’s DNA in them by intentionally engaging in global missions in a variety of ways. I then told him that based on my understanding of God’s Word, my experience in ministry and missions, and the convictions those things have produced in me, every church planter and pastor of a local church would benefit from answering the following six questions:
- Does God’s Word give us a glimpse of what the future history of a portion of mankind will be? (Rev. 5:9, 7:9, 21:24-22:2)
- Based on the fact that He is the creator and assigner of the ethnicities and languages which people are born into, that He loves each and every one of them, and has made it possible for them to be reconciled to Himself, should we be surprised by the future that is described in the verses from Revelation that I have included in the first question? (See: Psalm 86:8-10, Acts 17:26, Gen. 12:3, Luke 2:10 and 14, Matt 28:18-20)
- If moving things forward toward that future reality is one of God’s highest priorities and a local church which Jesus builds has His DNA in it, wouldn’t that local church also have His revealed “end game” as one of it’s highest priorities?
- Knowing that people don’t need to be convinced or prodded to be concerned about themselves, their families, and their own people that are like them, didn’t Jesus intentionally challenge His followers to see and participate in the bigger and wider work that God is doing? (See: Matt 8:11, John 4:35, 10:1,6 Luke 24:46-47, Acts 1:8)
- In fact, at what point in the relationship did Jesus introduce His first followers to the idea that their following Him and the resultant meaningfulrelationship with Him was for God’s larger purposes and interests and the good of others, not primarily their own? (Matt 4:19)
- Since Paul and John both challenged individual believers and local churches to understand and participate in the bigger, global work that God was doing in their day, shouldn’t modern local church leaders follow their example? (See: Rom. 1:5, 15:20, Phil 1:3-5, 2 Cor 10:15-16, Col 1:6, 3 John 5-8)
Based on these questions and the easily discoverable answers, every believer and every local church that He has infused with His DNA, will be intentionally participating at various levels in God’s global efforts to accomplish the “end game” which He has already revealed.
Jeff Jackson is the founder of Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators and currently is the director of Church Relationships and Missioanry Care. Jeff previously served with his family church planting in the central Philippines and planted churches in the United States.