Churches Planting Churches”… Sounds great, right? Has a certain ring to it… but what does it actually mean? Is it a substantive statement, or a hollow promise? When our church joined Acts 29 in 2007, the statement was different, but the sentiment was the same – A network of churches committed to planting more churches that planted more churches. Nearly nine years later, I can attest that this Network is not just committed to the statement, but to the reality of churches planting churches. But what is it about Acts 29 that facilitates this practice? I can think of three particular traits.
Gospel Over Gimmicks
The only real enduring aspect of any of our ministries will be the gospel of Christ.
The gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” Paul says in Romans 1:16. Do you believe that? I mean, do you really believe that? I know it may seem like the big “E” on the eye chart, but we can never take for granted the power in this message of the life, death and resurrection of our great God and King, Jesus. Nor should we underestimate the way gospel-centered thinking shapes how our ministry and mission get accomplished. It is so easy to be seduced by all the “licks & tricks” and other fads of church growth that seem to be working elsewhere – all the while slowly drifting away from the centrality of the gospel message. But the only real enduring aspect of any of our ministries will be the gospel of Christ, and its influence in the lives of the people we minister to.
I am grateful for the way this Network has reminded me of, encouraged me with, and motivated me by the gospel. It is the very life source of our ministry and mission. Our hope isn’t in our logo, it isn’t in our marketing, our music, our location, or even in our preaching! Our hope is in Jesus, and it is Jesus we want to give to people. What I try to pass on to the planters I interact with is that we go into a place and among a people, not to plant a church, per se, but to plant the gospel. And when the message of the gospel begins to take root among a people in a place, a church naturally springs up. Confidence is in the power of the gospel alone for salvation, not our bands, budgets, or branding, motivates us to see beyond a single church to a movement that saturates every town and city within our reach.
Multiplication Over Addition
I’m grateful that church planting has continued to gain momentum over the years and remains a very popular subject in the evangelical world. But planting churches simply isn’t enough. All the statistics tell us that we are not planting nearly enough churches to keep up with either population growth or the number of churches that close their doors each year. The addition game just isn’t cutting it. We need multiplication. We need to plant churches that plant churches.
I am continually challenged by our Network’s commitment to multiplication of disciples and churches. This is one of the most significant factors in Acts 29 becoming a global movement. I am challenged to pray bigger prayers, dream bigger dreams, and take bigger risks to see the gospel advance in my city, region, and around the world. I am challenged to greater dependence on Jesus to see people saved, discipled, trained, and sent. I am challenged to find ways to free up time, energy, and resources to support planting church-planting churches. I am grateful to be challenged in these ways.
Kingdom Over Castle
We are fools if we are unwilling to support new gospel works.
Every church planter is committed to planting his own church, but unfortunately not all planters are committed to helping plant other churches, especially in their own city or region. Too often, we tend to get caught up in what I call a “castle” mentality; concern over our specific local congregation (castle) more so than the advancement of God’s Kingdom. This is sin and must be repented of. Jesus didn’t just die for your church, he died for HIS Church, and His Church will have many expressions in our cities and regions. We are fools if we are unwilling to support new gospel works.
When we first got connected with Acts 29, I was humbled by the willingness of other pastors & planters to give so freely of their time, energy, and resources to encourage and support our plant and others. From the hours of coaching, to the policies and curriculum, even equipment that would help us move forward, the exceeding generosity of these congregations left an indelible mark. Now, nearly nine years later, my hope is that our church demonstrates the same Kingdom-minded generosity that we experienced to new works in our city and region, whether they end up being part of Acts 29 or not.
We are committed to seeing gospel-centered church-planting churches saturate the Southeast for the glory of God.
As I think about the vision for the Acts 29 US Southeast Network to see 200 churches by 2020, I am confident that by God’s grace we will not only meet, but exceed that goal. We are committed, not just in word, but in deed, to seeing gospel-centered church-planting churches saturate the Southeast for the glory of God. And I am thankful to lock arms with a network of planters and churches who all share this vision.
Bryan Robbins is the Lead Pastor at Missio Dei Church in Asheville, North Carolina. He also serves as the Area Lead for the US Southeast Network in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. Bryan is married to Christina and they have three children: Elijah, Sophia, and Ezra.