Outside the Walls: Plant the Church

“Do you want to plant a church?”

I looked at John like he was crazy.

“What are you talking about? How do you plant a church?” It was my senior year in college, and I had never heard of such a thing.

“It’s a lot like our college ministry on Thursday nights, except we will have worship on Sundays at a local elementary school cafeteria and invite the community,” he said.

The next few months were filled with late-night pizza and prayer gatherings at John’s house. We set up every Sunday, hoping people would show up. We started a high school outreach called Primetime, and we did a spontaneous series of services every night for a week. We took risks, prayed a lot and made a lot of mistakes. In fact, the name of the church was Downtown Community Fellowship — and we didn’t even meet downtown. Many heard the gospel and crossed over from death to life. The church continues to reach people today.

Every South Carolina Baptist church in our state began as a church plant. We now have more than 2,100 churches, but there are still 3.6 million people in our state who are far from God. They are not engaged weekly in any existing church. Over the next decade, South Carolina is expected to grow by half a million people. If we are going to get serious about reaching every life, we need to get back to our heritage.

However, people do not need “a” church planted “near” them; they need “the” church to plant the gospel “in” them. This will not happen unless disciples, in relationships, plant themselves in the lives of those far from God and then sow the seeds of the gospel through intentional conversation and care.

We need more “gospel planters” — individuals who are not content with just sitting in a church and being a pretty good person. Gospel planters seek out those far from God, care for their needs, listen to their stories and then share Jesus’ story. In their workplace, when others are frustrated, they plant the seeds of the gospel with a kind word. In their neighborhood, they invite a new couple over for dinner. At the club, they give up a golf game with their friends to spend some time with a new acquaintance who is far from God. They are gospel planters where they live, work and play.

Do you want to plant a church?

Start with planting yourself in others’ lives. Be a gospel planter.