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Most pin the Church-planting model on to Paul as he went on the three missionary journeys, taking a different team each time. Because of our own filters, blinders, and experiences we easily gloss over what Paul and his team actually did on these journeys.
Read and reread these experiences. Their primary intent was not Church-planting; it was sharing the good news of Jesus and teaching those who had ears to hear and eyes to see about the kingdom of God. Paul and his team stayed only as long as they felt was needed for genuine faith in following Jesus to catch on. They didn’t remain, because they knew this personal relationship with Jesus needed to be fleshed out and personalized by each culture.
Vincent Donovan, in his ground-breaking book, Christianity Rediscovered, framed it this way: “There is something definitely temporary about Paul’s missionary stay in any one place. There is something of a deadly permanence in ours. Besides the amount of time Paul spent in any one place-two and a half years at Ephesus being the longest stay-there is something else different in Paul’s missionary strategy. He introduced Jesus into just a few centers in each province and considered his work done.” Paul’s mission was not to plant churches, but to strike the match that introduced the light of Jesus to that region. He and his team were into launching the Jesus movement and allowing it to become a truly indigenous response to Him within the various cultures. To stay or plant an outsider there would have stifled the indigenous movement and become “something of a deadly permanence”.
Let me sum it up this way….Christianity isn’t the way, the truth, and the life. So, we’re not interested in spreading it!The Church isn’t the way, the truth, and the life. So, we’re not interested in planting it!Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. This is why we’re interested in advancing the conversation of Jesus everywhere possible…to strike the match that introduces the light into a person’s heart.