When God creates, he makes things that are then able to re-create other things like themselves
In the Genesis account of creation, God made plants that contained seeds to produce more plants just like them. He created animals to reproduce after their own kind, and he created humanity with a mandate to fill the earth.
So it is with the church.
The church is God’s creation. Jesus has said that he will build his church (Matthew 16:18), and he is continually going about the work of strengthening and spreading his church.
When thought of from this perspective, the church should be seen as universal. It is the community of all believers across the world - past, present and future.
The way Jesus builds this is through the reproduction of local churches.
The Community That Jesus Built?
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called his disciples to follow him. For three years they lived in community with one another, sharing in the mission, being welcoming to those outside, praying and worshipping together and teaching about the kingdom of God. At various times during these years, Jesus would send them out in pairs to different towns and villages, to have a go at ministering when he wasn’t around in person.
The Community That the Apostles Built?
After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit on his followers. Peter preached a sermon explaining all that had happened and thousands of people got saved. This could have been an administrative headache for the apostles. They now needed a strategy to care for and lead thousands of new converts. Their answer was straightforward; they did the same things in the early Jerusalem church that Jesus had done with them.
This meant that they shared their lives as a community, they did great signs and wonders, they taught the good news of God’s kingdom, they prayed, they broke bread as Jesus had taught to remember his death for them and they saw more people added to their number every day.
The community that Jesus started had now reproduced.
The Community Spreads
Through persecution, these believers were scattered, and yet they continued doing the same things in the towns and cities that they arrived in. New churches were started throughout Judea and into Samaria.
One prominent member of the church in Jerusalem was an apostle named Barnabas, and he was sent by the church to visit a group of believers that had arisen amongst Greek speakers in the city of Antioch. There, Barnabas joined forces with another apostle named Paul, and the leaders of the Antioch church were led by God to send Barnabas and Paul off to start new church communities in other places.
They travelled through Turkey and Cyprus, planting more new churches.
From here, Paul set his sights on Rome, and eventually Spain. The goal was to start local churches everywhere
The Community Goes Global
In the two thousand years since Paul was martyred, this goal has been relentlessly pursued. Churches spread first throughout Europe and North Africa, and eventually into North and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Jesus is building his church and he is doing so through local churches starting new local churches.
Church planting is about the spread of the church to new places and new people. It can involve starting new churches in places where none currently exist or starting new churches within villages, towns, and cities close by to reach out to different kinds of people.
When we plant churches, we join in what Jesus is doing, and when we plant churches that plant churches that plant churches, we contribute to the viral growth of the kingdom of God in the world.
That sounds good to me.