Church Planting: Lessons from Antioch and Beyond

Church Planting: Lessons from Antioch and BeyondIntroduction

In 1992 a great church planting vision was cast in England.[1] 20,000 new churches by 2000.  But by the end of three years, one denomination involved in the project had a net gain of only 20 churches out of 200 attempted church plants including the closure of 30 historical churches.  Obviously church planting is not an easy task and therefore should not be taken lightly.  If we are looking to church plant we ought to follow the Lord of the Church (Eph. 1:22; 5:23-24; Col. 1:18).[2] For in the end, whether or not our efforts fail numerically, we do not want them to be a failure before our Lord.

The amount of material in this day and age available on church-planting is quite overwhelming.  And as one embarks on sifting through the many different books and articles, many different opinions begin to surface.  Everyone has an opinion, and at times their opinions are in direct contradiction with each other.  There are those who believe that churches should be planted without any regard to the current existence of churches in the area,[3] and still others who believe extensive surveying must be done before any location is chosen.[4] Some believe new churches should be consistently planted on the basis that it is “easier to have a baby than raise the dead,”[5] while others think that struggling churches should be “renewed” rather than abandoned and the focus of church planting should only be on those without a church.[6] Trumpeted by some is the idea that church planting is “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven,”[7] while others view it as the result of evangelism rather than the cause.[8]

The need to evaluate church planting methodology on the basis of God’s Word is essential if we are going to gain approval and blessing from the Lord of the Church.  It is not as if He left us here without instructions as to what we are to be doing!  The Lord Himself said, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18), therefore let us sit at His feet and learn what He wants for His Church, specifically in regard to church planting and how we fit into that plan.  For our purposes this study will be narrowed to focus on finding principles from the beginnings of Paul and Barnabas’ missions and their involvement with the church at Antioch. Continue reading →

A Defense of Textual Updating

It might be that the idea of textual updating is inherently distasteful to many conservative evangelicals, and not without reason, for it shares some similarities with Source Criticism and other such liberal scholarship.  It is claimed that the only reason for ideas such as textual updating is the inroads of human ideas, specifically evolution into the study of the biblical text[1] and therefore to have any concepts that are shared by liberal scholars in such theories as the Documentary Hypothesis[2] is to buy into secular humanistic ideas.[3] But while it is true that many scholarly theories do have their roots in a non-miraculous worldview, it does not follow that textual updating is founded upon such presuppositions.  Just because someone agrees in part with a liberal scholar it does not mean that he has bought into the entire system that the liberal holds to.  For example, the whole concept of Source Criticism is that sources were used in the composition of the Old and New Testament.  But this does not mean that the idea of sources behind Scripture is wholly false, for Scripture itself clearly testifies that sources were actually used in some instances (ex. Num. 21:14; 1 Kings 11:42; 1 Chron. 29:29).[4] It would therefore be foolish for someone to come in contact with the notion of textual updating and then just brush it off as liberal agenda.[5] One does not need to have a bias towards the non-miraculous in order to seek an answer to questions that arise from a simple reading of Scripture.  In fact, one who believes the Bible is the Word of God has that much more reason to seek out an answer!

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