“16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20
What if Jesus had said to his 12, “Go and plant churches” instead of “Go and make disciples”?
What if the 12 (11 at this point) had gone to Jerusalem and each of them set up shop as a church? Build it and they will come…you get the idea.
It isn’t hard to see why Jesus told them to make disciples rather than to plant churches:
You can plant a church and not get a single new disciple but if you go and make disciples you will eventually need a gathering (church).
It seems to me we have flipped this up on its head. We have gone to plant churches. We get a team of Christians to start and we attract more Christians and not much gets done by way of teaching them discipleship or making new disciples. I have been guilty of this myself.
If you go make disciples, church will happen. If you go plant churches, discipleship may not.
Disciple Making Movements Lead to Church Planting Movements
This is why church planting movements don’t start as church planting movements. They start as discipleship movements. This is why the Great Commission comes before Acts. It happened in that order and we should follow Jesus’ lead on this.
Many house churches are planted by looking for people to disciple (often non-Christians), bringing them to faith, baptizing them, helping them mature and then that discipleship group becomes a new house church. It seems to me this is the order of how things worked in the early church and we would be wise to follow their lead.
In our church plant, we are about to start our second house church. We prayed for God to raise up a leader. God sent us a leader. Now we pray over who to invite (we don’t pull from the existing church), get them in a discipleship group and eventually plant a church from that group.
So let’s go make disciples and then see if new churches don’t spring up naturally.
If you want to learn more about how this plays out today, you can watch it here to learn more!