Friday, August 15, 2008

Reproducing Churches, Pt. 1

At Jubilee Church in St. Louis we have a reproducing church vision to start twenty locations in the greater metro region. It was a special joy last Sunday to send out a team to begin a new location in the far western region of St. Louis, in the growing town of Wentzville. This next Sunday will be the grand opening. A team has been working all during spring and summer with preview meetings and many community service projects.

C. H. Spurgeon wrote years ago these timely words. “The Christian Church was designed from the first to be aggressive. It was not intended to remain stationary at any period, but to advance onward until its boundaries became commensurate with those of the world. It was to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria unto the uttermost parts of the earth. It is not intended to radiate from one central point only; but to form numerous centers from which its influence might spread to the surrounding parts. In this way it was extended in its first and purest times. The plan upon which the apostles proceeded, and the great apostle in particular in his mission to the Gentiles, was to plant churches in all the great cities and centers of influence in the known world. (Sword & Trowel, Vol 1, April 1865, p. 63)

More than 300 years before the time of Christ, Alexander the Great was marching across Asia Minor as the commander of the greatest army ever assembled up to that time. This war machine had conquered every army it faced. When they reached the Himalaya Mountains, the leaders of the front-line came back to Alexander, filled with concern. “We have marched off the map, we should go back to where we know.” They had literally marched off the known map of that time. Alexander the Great listened to them and then said this, “Mediocre armies always stay within the known areas. The great armies always march off the map.”

Jesus, our great conqueror, gave a mandate in Acts 1:8 to this beginning and very small first church that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. Jesus told this first church to literally “march off the map! to the uttermost parts of the earth!”

The book of Acts chronicles the forward progress of the gospel. The gospel was preached and a vibrant community of God was established in Jerusalem that led to the gospel going to Samaria and onward into Antioch, which became the first Gentile church plant. From the Antioch church Missional and reproducing churches were established in Turkey, Greece, Asia and Europe.

The Ephesus church reproduced churches in Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These cities surround Ephesus connected by a circular Roman road.

The Thessalonian church is commended by Paul because they reproduced into the surrounding areas to such an extent that Paul did not need to come into those areas that had already been gospelized.

The Church is central in the purposes of God. These apostolic churches were reproducing churches which was simply normal church life in the New Testament. Starting new churches was vital and central to mission of the church in Acts. Paul never evangelized and made disciples apart from church planting. When looking at the church in Acts people often mention Bible teaching, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and worship, everything but a church multiplying by starting new churches.

However, if our passion to be a reproducing churches it is important that we not lose sight of the main issue, with that sentiment I offer the following quote.

“In I Corinthians 3 Paul reflects on what makes for good church planting. And the key thing is that the gospel is at the heart of church planting. The Corinthian church plants had lost sight of the gospel. They were concerned with human power and wisdom. They were dividing over secondary issues. Paul puts the gospel of Christ crucified back at the heart of church and church planting.

"Those whose primary commitment is to evangelism can too easily get locked into pragmatism. The literature on church planting abounds with prescriptive techniques and procedures. Detailed plans are offered from forming a team through to holding public launch and beyond. Paul reminds us of the sufficiency of the gospel of Christ crucified. People are saved and the church is built through the sovereign grace of God and the power of the gospel (I Cor. 2: 1 – 5). We should be careful that what we build rests on the true foundation of the gospel of Christ (I Cor. 3:10 – 11). It is God who ‘makes things grow’ (I Cor. 3: 7)

"Those whose primary concern is church can easily get absorbed with the internal dynamics or structures of the church. Paul reminds us of the centrality of the gospel. Our great desire should be for gospel growth.”

(“Multiplying Churches” p.44)


  1. Good post John. Thanks for the encouragement.

    I'm looking forward to those 20 locations.

  2. This off the map vision is very compelling! Actually I just found, check it out.

  3. Great post! The Spurgeon quote is particularly inspiring.