Friday, October 5, 2012

Easy Reproducibility

When my wife Alice and I were in missions training with the IMB several years ago, we were taught much about church planting. What fascinated me about our instruction was that we were told to follow the biblical model in planting churches. For example, we learned that churches should gather in homes, should have a multiplicity of unpaid leaders, should multiply quickly, etc. We studied through the book of Acts together and modeled what we were going to do on what we saw there.

I'd like to say that our training was as it was simply because that's what scripture shows us. That's not completely the case. The main reason we were taught to plant this model of church is that it "works." It is much more effective in spreading the gospel than is the institutional model of big building and salaried clergy. Simply put, the biblical model for church has easy reproducibility. The institutional model does not.

I suppose it is no surprise that what we see in scripture is also the model that works. Of course God is going to give us the model that is most effective in reaching the nations. The irony in our training, of course, is that the IMB is the Southern Baptist mission board. Institutional churches that largely reject the biblical model for church life are nonetheless financially supporting a missions agency that teaches exactly that model.

It troubles me when I hear about short-term missions trips where the people are going somewhere to build church buildings. This does more harm than good. It keeps the folks stuck to a building. It would be much better to go somewhere short-term and help the local Christians spread the gospel in any way possible.

God has provided us with the model for church life that He desires. One of the benefits of this model is that it reproduces easily. This is critical in countries where financial resources are scarce. Meeting in homes with nobody receiving a salary is an easy model to replicate from place to place. It is this model we should follow.


Chris Jefferies said...

Yes, you are right. Successful ways of sharing the good news about Jesus are better than unsuccessful ways. That really should go without saying, but there's plenty of evidence that it doesn't - so let's keep saying it :-)

But the way Jesus did it is the best way of all simply because he called us to follow him. If that checks out as the most effective way too we should not be surprised!

So go for it. I'm with you all the way.

Eric said...


Thanks. I love seeing believers plant churches according to the model we see set forth in scripture. It's so easy to replicate. Frankly, it's astonishing that anyone does anything different.

Aussie John said...


Problem is that the Biblical model doesn't lend itself to "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions".

Eric said...


Yes. the biblical model has no place for clergy, pulpit, oratory, power, etc. Those who desire those things will have no place for following what we see in the bible.