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In this session, we want to take a closer look at the great commission. We want to answer typical questions like the following: What is the great commission? What does it entail? What did Jesus Christ mean when He gave the church the instruction to go out to preach the gospel of Christ? What strategies should the church follow to carry out this instruction? Is the church on the right path in this regard? How are other churches fulfilling the great commission? How successful are other churches’ strategies in this regard? Can I implement these strategies in our congregation? What strategies should be changed? What causes us to fail in this regard?
To answer this last question, I think false doctrines are to blame. As I mentioned in a previous session, false doctrines or doctrines of devils are created for a purpose. It causes havoc in the lives of people and the church. It has devastating effects on people. It destroys people’s lives. This is why the great commission is not carried out as we are supposed to. Ignorance hurts the body of Christ tremendously.
In the light of recent changes all around us in the world, let us as church leaders consider the possibility of making changes in our congregations and denominations to support our members. Because of increasing challenges in the lives of people, things like pestilences and crime and financial challenges and social challenges, and who knows what else people will have to face in the future, Christians are struggling with many issues and challenges in their lives. We as church leaders need to help the members in our congregations to cope with such challenges. To do that we need to make sure that our doctrines, programs, and support systems can do just that.
The world does not have borders anymore. Because of technology and cheaper travel and more reasons to travel and many other factors, things like pestilences and other hidden dangers are going to become increasingly more difficult to be controlled or prevented. This is going to have an impact on the whole world, including the church. Churches need to adapt and they need to prepare to deal with all these challenges. Churches that do not keep up with the times are going to become irrelevant at such a pace that they will rapidly disappear right in front of our eyes. Pastors and church leaders will have to explore ways and means to stay relevant. This is what this course is all about.
Let us start this session by briefly discussing what God commanded us to do when it comes to fulfilling the great commission. Please take note that we are going to discuss different steps that can be followed by any denomination or church leaders in this regard. These steps are excellent and it works very well. It puts the focus on the right actions and the right methods and it addresses the needs of people. In light of the ever-increasing challenges that people are facing right now, my recommendation is that church leaders should not be too skeptical about some of the suggestions. It is up to you to consider these suggestions but do not forget to consider the positive impact that these suggestions might have on the members of your congregation.
So to start this session appropriately, we need to look at what Jesus Christ taught his disciples in this regard. He has taught them how to fulfill the great commission. You will notice that not only Jesus himself but all the disciples and all the apostles and all the other Christians in the Bible, were all focused on doing this very thing. They were all focused on this and they all did the same thing and they were all very successful doing this. Before we discuss the steps, let’s lay a bit of a foundation by explaining what the great commission entails:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matthew 28: 18-20
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
These Scriptures tell us what God wants us to do. He wants us to go out to preach the gospel of Christ and to deliver people by healing them and casting out demons and to make disciples. This is the core function of the church. This is what we should do. This is what Jesus did, this is what the disciples and the apostles did and this is what all believers in the New Testament did. Nobody was involved in any other activities.
Even the institutional church agrees and admits that the church is not what is going on between those four walls on a Sunday. They agree that the church should be in the streets or wherever we find people. In the marketplace or at the movies or in a park or wherever we find people. The church should be constantly looking for unsaved people, preach the gospel of Christ to them, convert them to Christianity, teach them the ways and will of God. Teach them the word of God, and help them to do the same. This should be our focus.
If every pastor and all church leaders focus on the basics of the gospel of Christ, we can get Christians to focus on the great commission again like it was in New Testament times.
We should equip new converts to start doing the same immediately. They do not have to be mature Christians. They should be taught to be obedient Christians right from the start. They can play a big part in the great commission immediately. The problem is that false doctrines stand in the way. False doctrines hinder the great commission.
If they know and understand the basic principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they can immediately be a useful instrument in the hands of God and of course, they can be a great help to the five-fold ministry. As soon as they know what the pure and true gospel of Christ entails, they will immediately be able to start with the great commission. It is basic stuff. Teach them the basics, and show them how to go out into the streets.
This is the best time to get Christians on the right track in regards to this. New converts are eager and ready and willing and excited about Christ and their faith. This condition will wear off if we don’t exploit it right away. It does not hurt them at all. It actually benefits them a whole lot. You will do every new convert a wonderful favor if you get them on the right track immediately. This will be the best time in their lives for this and it will have an everlasting effect on them. They will thank you for this.
Teach all new converts the basic principles of the gospel. Make sure that they understand all these aspects. The aspects that must be included will be discussed in detail. It is very important that all these aspects are included and thoroughly understood.
To have a meaningful discussion about the steps, I need to lay a bit of a foundation. In the beginning, God created the universe, including the earth and the human race. He created us in his image. Unfortunately, sin came into this world and the human race lost its glory and those characteristics that made us like God, resulting in all sorts of bad things coming into our lives. So sin came into the world followed by the results of sin. Death, sicknesses, diseases and calamities and toil and hardships and all sorts of undesirable things and situations became a reality in our lives. We lost quite a lot on that day. Adam and Eve sinned but if anyone on this earth were in their shoes, the same would have happened. This is what the Bible says about it:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
What we see in these Scriptures is that we all have sinned before God. None of us is good. We all sinned and as a result of that, the human race faced the wrath of God. We faced eternal judgment.
Fortunately for us, God had a plan. His plan was not only to save us from judgment but also to restore us completely. He loved humanity so much, He could not allow us to be lost and destroyed forever.
So He gave his Son Jesus Christ, not only to pay the penalty of sin, by taking the chastisement and the punishment that was supposed to be on us. When you read the whole chapter of Isaiah 53 you will understand what Jesus did. He took everything on him so that we can go free.
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
In this Scripture, it is clear that Jesus brought complete reconciliation between God and us. It is also clear that healing is part of the reconciliation. This means that God did not only let us go free, He also completely restored us but there is a condition. He removed sin but He also removed the results of sin. We receive it all through faith. It only comes by believing. Everything comes through faith by believing every word and by living by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.
So for the salvation of our souls, we need to believe the word of God, that proceeded out of his mouth, that deals with salvation and for restoration, we need to believe the word of God, that proceeded out of his mouth, that deals with restoration.
Let us look at a few Scriptures that deal with salvation:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
2 Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
When we look at these Scriptures, and there are hundreds more, we can see that by believing the word of God we are saved. And that it comes by grace. Yes of course we do need to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior but it all comes just because we believed the word of God.
Now let us look at a few Scriptures that deal with restoration:
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord…
1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Faith makes our salvation a reality and faith makes our restoration a reality. It is so true and so clear that God wants us to live victorious and blessed and full lives.
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
After the fall of humanity, God immediately “made plans” to save us and to restore us and to make sure that it is well with our souls. He knew what was going to happen even before the creation of the universe. His plans were aimed at benefiting us and to make us prosper. He made sure that evil does not destroy us and He removed the consequences of sin from us.
That is why Jesus came. John said that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world. His blood did not just cover the sins of people, it took it away. In him is no sin and we are in him. That is why John said in his letters that the regenerated spirit of man can’t sin. The moment we are born again, our spirits are born again. John said that the spirit of man cannot sin because we are born of the Spirit of God, to be more specific, and because we keep our eyes on Jesus and by doing so, we keep ourselves pure, just as pure as Jesus himself, by the way.
This is also the way that God dealt with sicknesses and diseases and calamities when it comes to the penalty of sin. He took it away so that we do not have to be sick and so that we do not have to suffer.
Isaiah 53 says that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Remember that Isaiah 53 is a prophecy about Jesus many years before Jesus came. It was pointing to the future. That is why it said that by his stripes you are healed. In 1 Peter 2:24 Peter said that Jesus bared our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. Peter understood that our sins were taken away and he understood that we were healed two thousand years ago on that cross. Both are in the past. Jesus saved us two thousand years ago by taking our sins away. The moment that He took our sins on him, that moment it left all people who were alive at that time and it is true for everybody, even people who are living today.
According to the custom back in the time of the Roman Empire, Jesus probably received thirty-nine lashes with a whip before He was crucified and that is when He took the penalty of sin away in regards to sicknesses and diseases. By his stripes, we were healed. That is when He took sicknesses, diseases, and calamities away from us. He does not heal anymore, He healed us two thousand years ago on that cross. As soon as Christians understand this it opens a whole lot of doors for them.
This is what all church leaders must pay attention to. If your church or denomination does not give people hope in the sense that you are making them aware of the availability of complete redemption and restoration, then you do not give them hope for the future. If the church cannot support its members in this regard, you are failing and you are not relevant anymore. The gospel of Christ is always relevant. There is always hope.
Christians who know that there is hope are better equipped to go out to fulfill the great commission. They have a message of hope. They have the full gospel of Christ at their disposal. This is why they can go out to fulfill the great commission with boldness and confidence. Do the members of your congregation have this confidence and boldness and the gospel of hope to their disposal? I know of a denomination that did not have this and the leaders of that denomination decided to make it available to their members. They have made the necessary changes and they have been reaping the benefits for years.
So how are people supposed to fulfill the great commission? Even if they know the gospel of hope, they will not be able to go out on their own yet. They will have to be accompanied by a few seniors but they will be ready, excited, and willing to step out in faith. The question is, how do we go out? What do we do when we go out?
What did Jesus Christ teach on this subject? One of the most profound revelations to me was to discover that Jesus Christ and the apostles always used new converts to do the work. These converts were equipped as they carried out the work of the ministry. They were not equipped by means of extensive training, Bible courses or Bible school, or anything of the sort. In the book of Luke, we read that Jesus sent out his twelve disciples and later the seventy to go preach the gospel all over Judea. Please take note according to Luke 10:1-24, that the disciples went out two-two.
Nowadays there is this belief that we should first and foremost invest some material resources in the area or in the community that we want to evangelize. Please note that in Luke 10 Jesus told the disciples not to take purses with them or anything else for that matter. Yes at a later stage Jesus told them that they may take purses with them but that was only for personal use. The church in New Testament times did not invest material resources in the area that they evangelized.
Also, note in verse two that the seventy had to pray for laborers to assist them to gather in the harvest. Just picture it in your mind; two people on their way to a small town to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. On their way, they pray to God to help them and to send laborers into the harvest. Apart from others, these laborers were not only the two disciples but also the new converts that will hear the call of God and who will make themselves available to work in the fields to bring in the harvest with the disciples. These new converts will, without any delay, be taught by the two disciples on basic Christian doctrines and principles in order to prepare then for the in-gathering of souls.
These basic principles will immediately enable these new converts to do the work of the ministry almost from day one. What were the basic doctrines or principles the new converts were taught? Let me summarize these principles:
The first principle is Salvation. Teach them the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His crucifixion for our sins, His death and burial, repentance and faith in Christ, His restorative work, healing, and deliverance.
When you go back to a house that was visited during an outreach, the first thing to do is to affirm what happened to them when they asked Jesus into their heart. Share with them John 1:12-13:
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Make sure that they understand that Jesus is in their heart and that their sins are forgiven. Also have them read from John 3:1-6 about Nicodemus and being born again. Explain to them after they read these verses aloud to you, that they are now born again.
The second principle is water baptism. Explain to them what happens when they follow Jesus Christ. Explain the importance of getting baptized immediately.
Explain everything about water baptism, how they associate with the death and the resurrection of Jesus, and that it is the cut-off point from their old life according to Romans 6. Go through bible study material on water baptism before the visit to refresh your own knowledge.
Then make arrangements with them to be baptized, either in a friend of theirs’ pool or Jacuzzi, a big bathtub, a river, lake, or the swimming pool at a local hotel or, they can be baptized at the local church. Encourage them to invite their family and friends to celebrate this awesome act of obedience with them. This is important. The family and friends can be part of the newly planted house church or they can be incorporated with the family into the local church.
The third principle is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Explain to them the purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit and with fire and the ministry of the laying on of hands to deliver people who are in bondage. We have found new believers to be very open, so explain to them that Jesus has saved them and that He wants to give them His Holy Spirit to empower them to walk in this new way. Think of when you’ve made New Year’s resolutions. It did not last very long, because they did not have the power to change. This is why Jesus wants to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will fill them and empower them. Lay hands on them and pray for them, and they will start speaking in tongues. Explain to them that tongues are a new way to communicate with God.
The fourth principle is the importance of prayer. Explain to them the importance of the personal relationship that every believer is supposed to have with Christ and the Father through prayer.
Share a few basic things about prayer. Share with them that prayer is simply talking with Jesus and telling Him what is in your heart. Encourage them to thank Jesus for every good thing that comes their way.
The fifth principle is to explain to them the importance of the word of God. Explain to them the amazing power of the word of God. Explain to them that the word of God is spirit and life and that it has the built-in ability to produce faith automatically.
Make sure they have a KJV or a Bible translated from the original and authentic “Textus Receptus” translation of the Bible. If not, give them one. Explain to them how to read and study the Word of God.
Have them open their Bible and start reading from Mark 1:1. Demonstrate the method as you go along. Reaffirm salvation, baptism, and baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is all there in Mark 1.
So here you are with last week’s new converts, in the house of this week’s new converts, teaching them the word and the will and the ways of God. Teach them the basics just like the apostles did. In Biblical times, the rest was imparted into their spirits by the Holy Spirit whilst they were advancing the kingdom of God along with the five-fold ministry. The new converts were taught within a few weeks as they took part in the process of church planting. They were equipped while doing the work of the ministry. This was the secret then and it still is today.
The only experienced workers were the two apostles or disciples that planted the church.
The initial focus
What was the initial focus of the two disciples when they approached the city or marketplace or the places they were visiting? This is a keyword in church planting. The answer is in Luke 10:6 where we read that they had to find a man of peace:
And if the son of peace be there…
Why a man of peace? What is a man of peace? A man of peace is a person who is willing to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a person who is willing to receive the disciples of Christ in his house. This house will be the “base” of the particular evangelical outreach and church planting process. This man of peace is not saved. It is a person who is willing to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Firstly this man will be led to Christ. Then his family staying with him will be led to Christ. Then his friends and family in the area will be led to Christ.
The disciples will waste no time in leading them to Christ, baptizing them in water, and laying hands on them in order to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. After this, the disciples will, if necessary, cast demons out of these people and lay hands on the sick. This is the full gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 3:14-15, Luke 9:2, Matthew 6:12-13, Mark 16:17-18, Matthew 10:18, Acts 10:38, and Matthew 10:1 all emphasize that what I described here is what the apostles were supposed to do when they plant a new church.
This is the basic gospel of Jesus Christ: Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, heal the sick and cast out demons. Of course, some of these things will be difficult when you initially embark on this mission. We all have to start somewhere and we do what we can. We do not allow the difficult stuff to prevent us from doing the easier stuff. We can find a man of peace and we can give him and his family a lot of hope and deliverance, although some of us might still be struggling to give them complete deliverance.
This man of peace is like Cornelius of Acts who accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Cornelius and his whole family converted to Christianity after Peter visited them in his house. They were all baptized in water and they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit immediately. They were in fact filled with the Holy Spirit even before they were baptized in water. We never deserve to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are filled or baptized so that the Holy Spirit can help us develop spiritually.
There is another very important comparison or similarity between Cornelius and his family’s conversion and the instructions that Jesus gave the seventy. Cornelius did not go to Peter. He did not go to the man of God. The man of God went to him. That is how the Holy Spirit orchestrated Cornelius and his family’s conversion.
Jesus sent the seventy to the cities. They were to look for a man of peace and they had to go to his house once they found him. The church has this all wrong. We invite people to church. We invite people to our home. So nowadays we invite people to become part of us. Nowadays the five-fold ministry invites people instead of going to people. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the fig tree, what were his words to him? Luke 19:5, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down for today I must abide at thy house. This is a very important key. Jesus Christ invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house. This is exactly what we must do. We must invite ourselves to the man of peace’s house. We need to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people.
What is the work of the ministry?
Now it is very important to understand that what I described above is the work of the ministry. This work takes place in houses and in the marketplace and the streets. It does not take place in a church building. Secondly, it is very important to understand that everybody is involved in this. This is the core function of every believer and every worker in the body of Christ. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is exactly what the apostles did. This is what the evangelists did. This is what the teachers did. This is what the pastors did and this is what the prophets did. They were all involved in the work of the ministry mostly in houses, in the marketplace, or in the streets.
The five-fold ministry all did the same thing. Although their focus differed they all worked together to equip the saints (laborers) for their work of the ministry. The laborers were equipped by the five fold ministry as they ministered. Even the greatest apostle of them all, Paul of Tarsus, went from house to house and street to street to advance the Kingdom of God. Acts 20:18-20 is proof that Paul preached the gospel in public places and in every house.
18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house
Note the words “from house to house” in this scripture. Paul himself preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and he planted churches in houses all over Asia.
This puts the five fold ministry back on the ground level. The five fold ministry should not be busy with administrative duties. They should not be busy managing people. They should all be busy with the core function of ministry. The work of the ministry or the great commission. They should be busy doing what every believer is supposed to do. That is visiting people in their houses, leading them to Christ, baptizing them in water, laying hands on them so that they may receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They should deliver them from diseases by the laying on of hands, they should cast out demons and lastly, they should teach them what Christ taught them. In the process, they are planting New-Testament based churches in houses. In the process, they are building and advancing the kingdom of God.
Now take note that all these actions may be carried out and must be carried out by all believers. In the institutional church, the work of the ministry is a function or a job description of the five-fold ministry. God’s instruction was however given to all believers to carry out this work. The five-fold ministry in the institutional church should teach all believers and all new converts to do the work of the ministry.
I do understand that a church and the community should pursue holiness as a congregation and as the church of Christ. We should focus on helping each other to grow and to mature in Christ. We should however not forget about bringing in the harvest. Our focus to grow spiritually and to flow in the gifts of the spirit cannot replace a constant focus on bringing in the harvest. Maybe the whole point is to learn to bring in the harvest so that we can mature and grow spiritually. We should not learn until we can bring in the harvest. No, we bring in the harvest so that we can grow and mature in a spiritual sense. The church has this wrong. The work of the ministry equips us and makes us grow. Theoretical knowledge cannot equip us or make us grow so that we can go out and bring in the harvest. It is the wrong way round.
Many church planters focus on gathering people from the ranks of the institutional church. This is not the right decision. We need to plant a church and expand a church with new converts. Maybe true spiritual growth and true holiness are founded on the basics of the gospel. If the basics are the foundation that we build upon, maybe that causes real growth and in the process the kingdom of God is advanced. I know that many people prefer growth and development in terms of quality and not quantity, but just maybe this model that Jesus taught his disciples does in fact accomplish spiritual growth in terms of quantity and quality.
In Luke 10:2 we read that we must pray that God sends laborers into the harvest. The Greek word for “send forth” in this scripture means to “eject” or to “throw” or to “cast” or to “thrust”. In order to effectively plant churches and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, laborers need to be “thrown” into the harvest. The laborers must all report for duty so that God can “cast” them into the harvest. This implies that these people must be equipped for the work of the ministry and then taken into the field to harvest the fruit.
The “laborers” are those that are equipped by the five fold ministry. This is exactly what Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us. It suggests that the five-fold ministry is there to equip the saints (laborers) for their work of the ministry. It implies that there are more laborers than five fold ministry members. It implies that the five-fold ministry needs the laborers to bring in the harvest. That is why Jesus Christ told the seventy (five-fold ministry) to pray for laborers.
The five-fold ministry needs the laborers to gather the harvest. They must bring in the harvest. That is why the five fold ministry must equip them for this work. God cast, eject, or throw these laborers into the harvest. He does it through proper, effective, and progressive church planting. There is this “structure” that needs to be put in place in order to evangelize the community. He cannot do this through a bunch of believers who sit on a church pew. He cannot do it through a house church of believers who are focused on perfecting themselves in terms of their personal spiritual growth. He does it through a handful of believers who are actively gathering in the harvest while teaching others how to mature in Christ.
The Luke 10 method can be followed by all denominations. The house church movement follows this method. They usually plant a house church right there in the house of the man that they found in the street. Other denominations follow this method and they incorporate the man with his whole family in the local church. The important thing is that the new converts, the man and his family must immediately be drawn in to do the work of the ministry. They are to be taken out by two seniors to reach out to find a man somewhere in the street or market place so that the whole process can be repeated. This is how any denomination and any church can grow and expand. This is the secret of church growth.
This is the best method of church planting and expansion in the body of Christ. It is the best method because it is Biblical. This is how the great commission should be carried out. This is the work of the ministry. I hope that this session shed some light on this very important subject.