Learning from Global Church Planting
Evangelist John Stott said, “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” We live in a truly global and multicultural world where we must be missionally minded and globally engaged Christians.
As we look at the world around us, there is a tremendous need for global church planting. Roughly one third of the people on the planet are still without a local church. The need for planting churches in global urban centers and unreached peoples is growing daily. There are over 2 billion people on the planet who have never heard of Jesus. That is 13,000 unreached people groups who are waiting to hear what God has done for them. Many of these lesser reached peoples are from restricted access countries and locations resistant to the Christian message.
The West is quickly becoming one of the largest mission fields on the planet. In the United States alone, there are over 130 million unchurched people. With over 337 languages, the United States has become one of the most multicultural and multilingual nation on earth. The challenge of reaching these people groups is due to the growing diaspora of people from other nations who have come to North America. These men and women are often difficult to reach cross-culturally due to various language and ethnic boundaries.
Nations such as Africa, Asia, and South America are beginning to send missionaries to re-evangelize the West through church planting! British author Martin Robinson talks about some of these church planters from developing countries who are now coming to the West. They have come from nations like Brazil, Haiti, Mexico, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, and Ethiopia to name a few. If we are going to reach the West again, we have to seriously engage in cross-cultural church planting.
Global Church Planting
Despite the decline of Christianity in the West, the church is growing at an explosive rate in the Southern Hemisphere. The growth rate of global Christianity is absolutely amazing as church planting movements have reached hundreds of millions of people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America in tens of thousands new congregations that have been planted to keep up with the growth. Consider the following statistics. In the last 100 years, Christianity grew in Africa from 10 million in 1900 to 360 million in 2000.
The growth of global Christianity is taking place through various church planting movements around the world. Church planting strategist David Garrison, defines a church planting movement as, “a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweep through a people group or population segment.” There is a lot of things we can learn from the global church by looking at what God is doing through church planting movements.
According to Garrison, the following 10 characteristics are common to every church planting movement. There are many noticeable similarities to the lessons of the Wesleyan Revival.
Abundant Gospel Sowing
Intentional Church Planting
Cell or House Churches
Churches Planting Churches
The global nature of the church reminds us that the Christian faith is made up of millions of men and women who live in hundreds of countries and speak thousands of different languages. We are deeply connected to other believers from around the world. You and I may never meet these believers, but we are still a part of the same great family and body of Christ. I have brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Africa, China, and Russia.
The Bible paints this beautiful picture of the global nature of the church, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9).
It will take all kinds of new churches to reach all types of people for Christ. The church is like a mosaic or tapestry that is made up of many colors. Each piece makes it a beautiful masterpiece. Today there are many different expressions and types of church plants. Some new churches meet in buildings while others meet in homes. Some church plants meet in bowling alleys, funeral homes, YMCA’s, schools, and some even meet outdoors. Some new churches are traditional, some are contemporary, and some are home fellowships.
A commonality is that each new congregation of believers is gathered in a local expression of being the church wherever they are. The church in Africa looks different than the church in Texas because each one is called to be the church in their unique context and culture. One of the best experiences of my life was spending a summer traveling across the countryside of Peru. I was able to visit and worship with dozens of different new churches throughout the country– churches in cities, jungles, and the Andes Mountains. Each of the churches was a little different, however they all had one thing in common: they worshiped Jesus Christ.
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