By Nick Mahabir
Did you know that nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to “plant churches”? Then why do we do it?
New congregations are the fruit of evangelism! Jesus commanded His disciples to “go and preach.” As they went, they preached, and new believers were added to the church daily. From the many reasons we plant churches, allow me to share two: first, to make disciples, and second, to develop leaders. That is what I strive to do when I teach at the Global Church Planters Academy in West Africa.
If we are to be effective in church planting wherever we are, I suggest several important directives:
- Be personally committed. All of us must accept the responsibility to win the lost for Christ. No other activity should replace our desire and commitment to bring the lost to Christ. Evangelism is in the DNA of each believer. Having a passion for souls is not optional. It must be our mission. The prayer of John Knox, “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die,” reflects the passion and the burden he felt for the lost. (John Knox was the leader of the Protestant reformation in Scotland.)
- Preach it from the pulpit. No one comes to Christ except through the Word. Pastors must see as part of their responsibility the need to preach church planting and to challenge their congregations to respond.
- Teach church planting in our Bible schools. Ministers of tomorrow must learn the dynamics of church planting or they will not have the knowledge and skills to plant a church. At the Global Church Planters Academy, we prioritize what we call Four Dynamics: leadership, pastoral ministry, evangelism, and church planting techniques and strategies.
- Model it. Lectures are fine. Online learning has many benefits. But perhaps the most important method of teaching is to demonstrate by personal example. How powerful a message we send if a minister will organize an evangelistic team, provide appropriate training, go to an unchurched area in his “Jerusalem” (local community) and visibly demonstrate what evangelism is and how it works. One of the actions we require of all Academy recruits is that they go out and evangelize in the evening. The best way to learn the theory is to practice the principles taught. At the end of the mission, there will be added to the church many believers who will be nurtured, enabled, and sent forth to preach!
Is church planting just a slogan? In some cases, I fear so. It must become our mission. Evangelism and church planting must retain their rightful places in church activities. Open Bible is in existence today because hundreds of men and women heeded the call to “go out into all the world and preach the gospel,” and they planted churches. Missionaries to my birth country of Trinidad heeded the same call. I am a Christian because they did!
My present involvement as an instructor in the Global Church Planters Academy grew out of my commitment to church planting. I have been privileged to go to Ghana and Liberia to teach young pastors and evangelists how to plant churches. Already we are seeing the fruits of our labors. Four new churches are being planted in Liberia by Academy recruits, and a dozen or so have been planted in Ghana by Academy graduates. It is my fervent prayer that God will raise up an army of church planters to accomplish His will and purpose again here in Open Bible. The Academy exists to train up church planters and to support churches whose mission and passion is to plant churches.
It is also my joy to look back over the years and see the handiwork of God. One such memory revolves around a church I pastored while still quite young. That church today holds the distinction of being a “grandparent” in terms of church planting. We sent out and planted several churches; some of those churches planted others. We also recruited and sent to our Bible school many young people who themselves became ministers. It is always a joy to receive a call from one of those individuals who remind me that they were saved, challenged, trained, and sent out under my ministry. At sixty years of age, that church is still looking for opportunities to evangelize and plant new congregations! My reference to that church is not to hold them up as an example but to provide testimony to God’s faithfulness when we are obedient to the Great Commission.
I close with Jesus’ command:
“Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his field”(Matthew 9:38, NLT).
About the Author
Nick Mahabir, a credentialed Open Bible minister who lives in Germantown, Maryland, is an itinerant evangelist, pastor, and teacher. He earned his master’s degree in leadership from Georgetown University and ministers as a leadership dynamics instructor for Open Bible’s Global Church Planters Academy.