Jesus’ final words were a command: “Go make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). Disciple-making is a project designed for the local church. It requires committed and diligent men and women living in intentional & consistent community. To excel at Jesus’ disciple-making mandate we need all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people — big & small, old & new, established & flexible.
In Scripture (creation, Israel, regeneration, the promise of new heavens and earth) God makes it clear that he is in the business of creating things anew. But why? New creation, as opposed to reorganization, requires the free choice of a powerful and personal God to act. New churches are new creations which make God’s active participation known to the watching world.
Whether it was the apostle Paul planting churches throughout the Mediterranean in the first century; settlers arriving in Ballard in 1916 to form what is now Bethany Community Church; or the 1996 living room bible study that became Mars Hill Church; every church was at one point a church plant, started by a few brave individuals who took a risk to start something anew for God. We may not understand why, but this seems to be God’s plan for extending his kingdom.
True relationship with God is the promise and goal of the gospel. But how do we get that? Relationship never arises from passive consumerism. Instead, we come to know Christ by intentionally participating with him. The entrepreneurial nature of church planting requires sacrificial participation. This grassroots side-by-side work with God is unique intimacy-building labor. It will strengthen your faith and awaken you to God’s presence and involvement in the world. “We can offer participation, but not a finished product.”
The gospel is alive and well when many diverse communities proclaim in both word and deed a unified message. Consider the 66 books of the Bible: composed by 44 human contributors, it teaches God’s one unified message. Unified diversity is a pillar of Christianity because it points to the one true and transcendent source. God’s good news is bigger than one prophet or one culture or one local church. We celebrate the gospel impact of the great churches in this region, and humbly seek to add beauty through our participation in the unified diversity of the gospel in the Pacific Northwest.
Over the years, church planting has proven to be one of the best ways to reach un-, under-, & de-churched populations with the gospel. The flexibility and creative freedom afforded to church plants can make these communities attractive to those who are beyond the established circles. New churches offer and invoke a sense of ownership and togetherness that can be rare.