God is a missionary God.
He is a sending God.
His plan from the very beginning has always
involved sending His people do His work.
FLINT, MI – The Latin term missio Dei is a common term used to describe God and it has often been translated as the “sending of God” or the “mission of God” which comes from the very nature of God Himself, “encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on the earth.” (McIntosh, John A. 2000. Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, ed. A Scott Moreau, s.v. “Missio Dei.” Grand Rapids: Baker.) The nature of God and the understanding of the missio Dei reveals to us that God is not only a supporter of missions, but that He is actually the initiator of missions. Missions exists because God exists. Church planting exists because God exists. When people engage in church planting or other missionary activity it is not like they are doing something for God. They are actually simply joining God in what He is doing. The nature of God and the mission of God cannot be separated.
In contemporary society today, it seems that the majority of Christians don’t connect theology to church planting. It seems that most simply compartmentalize the faith saying that theology is what we believe and church planting or other missionary activity is what we do without any continuity or connectivity between them. This is a flawed view as the right thinking always precedes the right action. In order to be faithful in our church planting we must have a Biblical understanding of theology.
Upon studying the Trinity, we see the pattern of relationships as it relates to church planting. In the plan of redemption, it is revealed to us the unique role that each person of the trinity plays. There is a division of labor even within the Godhead. In salvation God the Father is the sending God. He sends the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is the master planner of redeeming the elect. When Jesus was carrying out His ministry He often explained that He was sent to the earth in order to do the will of the Father. God the Father is the sender. Jesus is the sent one. He was sent to carry out a specific ministry of living the perfect life that none of us could live and then dying the death that we should have died. Then on the third day He was resurrected unto newness of life making man’s redemption complete. He was the one sent.
The Holy Spirit was finally sent as a support to Jesus. His main mission is to carry out the work of Jesus. Herein we see a model for church planting. In order for church planting to exist there must be a sending church. Just as there is a sending church there is also a sent one, the church planter. This is the church planter that is called to fulfill the specific assignment of planting a new church. No church planter can do his work alone so there must also be a support team sent to surround him. That is a group of people that come along side of the church planter to fulfill the task. Literally the sending God gives us a model of what church planting relationships should look like.
Our ecclesiology is vitally important as it relates to missions. What is the purpose of the church? Is the church an end unto itself, or is it the means to carrying out the missionary task. It is my persuasion that each local church should form into a missionary agency with one of its chief concerns to send believers out on mission with the chief mission being planting new churches. The goal is to not just grow the seating capacity of the church, but to grow the sending capacity of the church. It seems the Apostle Paul made this extremely clear when he gave instructions to the leaders at the church in Ephesus, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). These verses teach us that the leaders of the church are called and put in place in order to equip the saints to carry out the ministry.
What better ministry than church planting. The church should have a primary focus on equipping those in her midst to take up the call of planting other churches that plant other churches.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Stewart married his wife Lori in October of 2006 and they now have three beautiful children. Pastor Eric received a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science and Religion from Liberty University and has since begun working on a Masters of Divinity degree. In the fall of 2014 Eric along with others from the Flint area started ONElife Church which Pastor Eric now serves as the Lead Pastor.