In the midst of reading a piece of extraordinarily good news today, I was also saddened.
The church in Vilonia, Arkansas, was established two years ago in one of the state’s fastest growing cities. With good success in its outreach, recently the saints there moved and renovated a barn to serve as a meeting place while they make plans for the future.
The news of the church’s latest was published today in Brotherhood News.
A quote from one of the elders interrupted my joy with a note of sadness.
“… the concept of church planting is so rare in the Bible belt today that we struggled to gain identity. Some of our brethren could not imagine that we were doing this for the right reason. Most church plants in the last 30-40 years have been the result of a split. Our motivation was not dissension or division, but growth of the Lord’s church. We hope that we can do our small part in changing the mindset of today’s church back to the very Biblical concept of church planting.”
If this is true, the Lord requires repentance of a large segment of our brotherhood.
As his church, we have a singular mission in the world, to preach the gospel. As that gospel is preached, churches begin to meet.
Have we failed to go into the towns and neighborhoods of our states and preach to the unreached in a manner that churches spring up and grow?
Are we so bound to buildings that we can’t envision a new work without one?
Have we centered our preaching in pulpits and auditoriums so that living rooms and kitchen tables no longer serve as appropriate mediums for evangelism?
Has the gospel been deposited in the preachers’ salaries so that the laypeople have nothing to do but be served by more and more full-time ministers whose focus is on the flock?
Have we wedded ourselves to outdated methods and traditions that no longer serve the people of God, but rather hold us back from fulfilling the mission of God in the world?
Such questions are not peripheral issues, but touch the heart of our identity as the church of God.
If we are more accustomed to seeing churches divide because of dissension and strife rather than spring up through the proclamation of the gospel, we are, of all men, most self-deluded and self-condemned.