The last few weeks at Grace Life have been incredible. We had the opportunity to hear from Jeremy Lynn, missionary to Ethiopia, and Jared Huntley, church planter to Oshawa (Toronto), Ontario. Be sure to check out their sermons:
Since the commencement of our church, we have been committed to being a church that helps plant other churches. Right before our first Bible study, we wrote our first check to the Lynn family, who would soon depart for Ethiopia. At the time, we only consisted of 15 people – including kids. Any money we had was a hot commodity. What led us to write that first check and begin partnering financially and relationally with church planters? There were three reasons why we started supporting church planting and they are the reasons we continue to this day.
We saw Biblical Evidence of supporting church planters
The New Testament is the story of church planting. The book of Acts gives us the church planting journey of Paul and other men who spent their lives planting churches. After the book of Acts, most of the following New Testament books were written to church plants or leaders of young churches. Church planting in the New Testament was essential for the spread of the Gospel.
In Philippians 4:14-16, we see Paul addressing the Church of Philippi, a church he started (Acts 15-16). Here’s what he said to them:
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.
Three important aspects from this passage:
- We see a young church already supporting a church planter. Paul started the church of Philippi on his second missionary journey in A.D. 50-52 and wrote the letter to the Church in Philippi around A.D. 60-62. This church was supporting the start of other churches before they turned 10 years old.
- The church of Philippi financially supported Paul while he started other churches. We don’t know how much he was given, but Paul is extremely thankful, especially since he also had a side job of making tents.
- The church of Philippi not only supported him financially, but they appeared to have a ongoing relationship with him. They knew of his troubles and they came along side of him (v. 14). We see in the previous verses that this church must have reached out to Paul when they heard he was in a tight spot and expressed concern for his well being.
New churches need existing churches of all ages to come along side of them to help with financial struggles and to encourage the new church. The church of Philippi demonstrates what that partnership looks like.
At Grace Life, when we partner with a planter, it’s more than a monthly financial gift. We want this to be a personal relationship. So we pray for them. We encourage them. We go see them. We serve with them. We want to see God use them to reach the lost; this is why we partner with them, both financially and relationally.
We wanted church planting to be in our DNA
DNA is not something you develop; it’s something you are born with. We knew early on that what we desired for Grace Life to be in 5, 10, 50 years, we had to start doing those things at the beginning.
We knew that if we wanted to be a church that helped start new churches, then we had to establish this from the beginning. Before we launched, we had already given over $1000 to church planting. Why? Because one day we will want to raise $10,000 and even $100,000 and we can look back and say, “We’ve done this from the beginning and by God’s grace we can do it now. This is who we are.”
I don’t believe we have an option when it comes to this. We’ve already seen how God uses church planting to reach the lost, so to neglect church planting is to neglect the Great Commission. When Jesus gave the disciples the mission in Matthew 28:18-20 and in Acts 1:8, they obeyed – by starting churches.
We are a church that helps plant churches because we have done this from day one and because Christ has given us the command to plant more churches.
We knew it wasn’t about us
Like almost anything, church can become about personal preferences. The old hymn “Come thou Fount” states why this happens, “We are prone to wander….prone to leave the God (we) love”. When we leave God, we move towards something we want. We chase after a dead and worthless idol that is unworthy of worship.
The church unfortunately can create idols. Idols of branding, status, size, styles, and attractiveness. People want programs and options which leads churches to cater to what the masses want instead of faithfully being guided by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
One of our Core Values from the beginning has been “We are contributors, not consumers”. We see from New Testament examples that churches thrived when they made gospel advancement the center of everything they did. They didn’t design their churches to bring people in, they designed them after the Great Commission: to send people out.
Supporting Church Planting means it’s not about us; it’s about the Kingdom of God. It’s about using the resources and people that God has provided us to help start more churches around the world. It’s not about our preferences, it’s about God’s glory being made known to the nations.
Ultimately, we support church planting around the world because God has called us to. We want to do everything we possibly can to help send out church planters into some of the darkest places in the world. We support church planting because we want to see lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
***For more information on how you can be involved in our church planting efforts, please email us at info(at)thegracelifchurch.org