Reaping Godís Harvest - "The Triple-S Plan"
Below is some information related to church-planting. These are taken from the Church Planting website (go to TAGnet home page and search for church planting):
Building Castles Apple Trees Growing Past Church Expansion
Antioch 95 Theses
Building Castles for the Kingdom
by Ron Gladden
"Hey Tanya! Letís do something crazy. Letís make the biggest sand castle
this beach has ever seen!"
Our family was celebrating the 4th of July by camping on the Oregon
coast. We were delighted that Tanya, a friend from Russia, could join us.
It was a perfect day. The sand was warm and clean. The waves were as
white as Julia Robertsí teeth. The sky looked as if God had spilled a giant bucket
of deep blue paint. We felt as though we had fallen into a postcard.
My daughter and her boyfriend were putting the finishing touches on a
pint-sized castle. We had all day with nothing to do, and a wild idea emerged:
create the biggest sandcastle the beach had ever seen.
"What do you mean?" Tanya asked.
"Watch this." Dragging my toe, I made ahuge circle in the sand.
Concentric with the first, I moved out five feet or so and made a second, even
bigger, circle. "Hereís the deal," I announced. "Letís dig all the sand from
between the circles and throw it inside. Then weíll use whatís in the middle to
build a giant castle."
Tanya grinned incredulously. "We could never finish it. Itís too big. It would
take us two weeks to do all of that."
"We wonít do it alone."
"Who will help us?"
"Look at all these people on the beach. When they see us doing
something big, theyíll want to be part of it. Weíll have all the help we need."
She was visibly skeptical. "Do you think so?"
"I donít know. Letís try it and see."
We knelt down and started to dig. With nothing but our hands, we tossed
sand from the moat to the middle.The biggest castle, I said to myself, begins
with a single scoop.
Apple Trees and Churches
By Ron Gladden
(Printed in Mid-America UnionOutlook, April, 1998)
The true fruit of an apple tree is not an apple but another apple tree. During the early decades of the
nineteenth century, John Chapman did a very strange thing. He traveled hundreds of miles on foot carrying apple seeds to virtually every village and hamlet from Butler, Pennsylvania to Decatur, Illinois. He was driven by an illogical passion to make the nutritious apple available to everyone in America. Johnny Appleseed, as he came to be known, understood that carefully watering, tilling and fertilizing the tree in his own yard would not cause his dream to be realized. If apples were to be everywhere, apple trees must be everywhere. Similarly, the true fruit of a growing church is not just a new disciple of Jesus but another growing church. A huge potential for major church growth in North America lies untapped. A renaissance of church planting can bring it to pass.
Four reasons to plant churches
1.It is biblical.
It is the New Testament way of spreading the gospel. In Acts 2, we read of the phenomenal multiplication of converts. By the time we get to Acts 16, the churches are multiplying. "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily" (vs.5, NKJV). It didnít take long for the apostles to become convinced that church planting was the pivotal cog through which the power of God would be transferred into the world.
2. It is effective.
"The single most effective evangelistic method under heaven," states C. Peter Wagner, "is planting new churches." A core group who sets out to start a new church possesses a steely resolution that is seldom seen in an established church. They are ready for action, for sacrifice, for a Christians versus lions rematch, if necessary. That focused vitality translates into fervent prayer and earnest effort for the lost. Which explains why new Adventist churches grow at ten times the rate of established churches.
3. It is necessary for denominational survival and growth.
Every denomination that reports an increase in the total number of congregations reports an increase in members. Every denomination reporting a decrease in congregations reports a decrease in members. Many are shocked to realize that Adventist membership in the cities of America is the same today as it was twenty years ago. The only exceptions are the cities in which new churches have been planted during those twenty years. Like the human body, every church eventually plateaus. Its presence and impact are increased only by producing energetic offspring. A stunning statistic that illustrates the point: the average size of a five year old Southern Baptist church is 145 members. The average size of a 100 year old Southern Baptist church is 155 members. Since these numbers are similar in Adventism, it is natural to wonder, why does it take 95 years to add ten members?
Growing Past the Temptation to Quit
~ by Steve Sjogren
A wise veteran pastor told me recently, "After living through 60 years of
life I am convinced the most difficult job in the world is church planting."
I agree with this leader. On more than once I've told my wife, Janie,
"There has to be a more lucrative way to be miserable.: I've done a number
of things for a living, and planting certainly has been the most difficult. A
couple of years into our plant in Cincinnati, during a particularly low
point, I told my wife, "Surely there are must be more lucrative ways to be
miserable in life than this!"
It's only natural that with this high level of stress, there will be great
turnover. I don't have scientific proof, but my guess is the number one
reason church plants don't succeed is because the senior leader quits.
Several times in my first few years of planting, I actually did quit, at least
for a day or two.
1. Tend your inner garden.
Amazing intensity can mount up in our hearts as we do the rugged work of
church planting. Release that in the form of intercessory prayer. For me,
this prayer isn't so much a grocery list of intercessory prayer though I do
keep a prayer list in my journal. I tell the Lord what he already knows. I
bring to him the specific issues that are pressing in on me.
You do have an inner garden. The only question is what shape is from the
poem, "How does your garden grow?"
2. Pray deep prayers.
When Paul spoke of his groanings too deep for words -those inner prayers
uttered by the Holy Spirit -- I believe he was refering to the the praying he
did to release the intensity that rested upon him.
3. Read Scripture.
For years I've told my church, "Five chapters a day keeps the pastor
away." Without a routine, I would find it impossible to get my five
chapters in a day. For the past few years I've done more devotional
listening to scripture than I've read. I purchased the Bible on audio cd and
find it a very pleasant listen. Often I end up listening to more than my five
4. Write Scripture.
I've heard it said, "Girls keep a diary; boys write in their journals."
Wordsmithing aside, the past few years I have been enriched in my times
with God as I have done less reading of scripture and more writing out of
scripture into my journal. It's simple. I write out complete verses, chapters
Church Expansion in Early Adventism
A Plan to Return
(by Ron Gladden)
Thigh-slapping joy reigned on Mt. Hope Avenue! Here's why.
It was Spring, 1852. Hiram Edson had just sold his farm and loaned the money
to James White. James hailed a train and hurried to the big city of New York. A
few hours later, with almost-obnoxious enthusiasm, Brother White traded the
farm money for a printing press. The Washington hand press, as it was known,
required the substantial sum of $652.93, which included delivery to the print
shop on Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester, New York.
Peek through the dusty windows and enjoy the scene. Admirers press together,
hoping for a close-up view of the new machine. Smiles brighten every face.
Expressions of delight fill every nook and cranny of the wood-floored room. This
is the first printing press they have ever owned. How much more quickly will the
message of the Sabbath now be spread! Pay respect while the jubilant pioneers
bow their heads and dedicate the press to the Lord.
Uriah Smith recollects the details. "The instruments we had to use were a
bradawl, a straight edge, and a penknife. Brother Loughborough, with the awl,
would perforate the backs for stitching; the sisters would stitch them; and then
I, with the straightedge and penknife, would trim the rough edges on the top,
front and bottom. We blistered our hands in operation, and often the tracts in
form were not half so true and square as the doctrines they taught."1
The little hand press was held in the name of James White. There was no
conference Bible house or agency for distributing literature. Nothing to bind the
believers together for service. Organized churches? None. Conferences? Didn't
exist. No legal entity of any kind was in place for holding church property. There
was no church government to guide and nourish the young movement in its
quest to blanket the world with the three angels' messages. And to add
embarrassment to confusion, we didn't even have a name!
Should We Organize?
The saints who comprised the Advent movement were enthusiastic. Focused.
Determined. But not organized. A.W. Spalding describes the decade following the
disappointment as "a time of chaos in Adventist circles."2 "Couldn't we
1James Nix, Memorable Dates from Our Adventist Past, p. 29
2Origin and History, vol. 1, p. 291
Business Meeting -- Antioch Style
by Ron Gladden
(Printed in Mid-America UnionOutlook, February, 1998)
Most business meetings are about as
exciting as driving across the Kansas-Nebraska
border. (Sound like your latest
meeting?) This one, however, reeks with
energy and hope.
Look around the room. All you can
see is people. Old-timers, new Christians,
seekers, children, women, men -- they are
everywhere. Balanced on three-legged
stools, squeezed shoulder to shoulder on the
floor, counter-weighted on weak-kneed
tables -- every nook of the house is bulging
"Hey look! Here comes Rufus!"
"Push together, everyone. Make
room for one more!"
Eager faces focus on six men who
describe a thrilling vision. Barnabas,
Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, John Mark and
Saul are in positive agreement. Just last
night, the Holy Spirit directly said,Set
apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the
work to which I have called them(Acts
13.2; NASB). Impromptu discussion groups
break out everywhere. Animated gestures
and voices create temporary chaos.
Lucius lifts his hand and motions for
silence. "Brothers and sisters, we are
convinced that God is calling these men to
leave us here in Antioch and to become
missionaries to the vast, unreached people
groups of Asia Minor. Millions of souls are
in darkness. They do not know that the God
of heaven has provided for their salvation
through His only Son Jesus Christ. They
continue in their godless practices and
beliefs. How can we ignore the lostness of
so many people?"
"Brother Lucius, I agree that the lost
out there matter to God," Zachariah affirms.
"But dare we ignore the needs of our own
church? We hardly have enough men to
provide the widows with their daily needs.
Antioch has thousands of lost people right
here. If we divide ourselves, wonít we
weaken our impact on this city?"
Marcus concurs. "Iím concerned
too. I agree with Zachariah. Wouldnít it be
wiser to wait? I wouldnít think of arguing
with the Holy Spiritís call, but maybe He
meant at a better time, when our own
church is stronger."
"Remember, beloved, what our Lord
Jesus told us." When Simeon speaks,
everyone pays attention. "His very last
appeal wasGo and make disciples of all
nations.We have fasted and prayed. The
will of God is clear. He says to go now."
Narcissus accepted Christ through
the teaching of Barnabas. "Are you sure
weíre sending the right men?" she begs. "I
mean, no one teaches the Word with more
clarity than Barnabas. And Saul! Saul is the
best preacher anywhere. He can stand toe to
toe with the Jewish leaders better than any
of the rest of us. Have we considered the
implications of these strategic leaders both
leaving us at one time?" Other recent
converts repeat the question in their own
Lucius again lifts his hand and the
room falls silent. "Men, women, young
folk, listen. We cannot all stay here in
Antioch. Someone must go. Yes, losing
Barnabas and Saul is quite a sacrifice. From
a human standpoint it will be tough. Yet we
know that God is faithful. He has called and
He will provide. Let us put aside our fears
and unite behind this great vision, knowing
that the message of the crucified and risen
95 Theses of Church Planting
Apologies to Martin Luther
(Compiled by Ron Gladden)
1. Christianity has always expanded through the multiplication of churches.
2. The apostles believed the multiplication of churches to be the pivotal cog
through which the power of God would be transferred into the world.
3. To remove church planting from the New Testament would delete virtually
all Scripture that emerged after Jesusí great commission in Matthew 28.
4. The gospel commission assumes aggressive, continuous and
spontaneous church planting.
5. Church planting is not a fad; itís a mandate.
6. Radical love for the lost drives us to plant new churches.
7. Church planting focuses our vision on the future rather than on the past.
8. The only way to predict the future is to create it through the planting of
9. We can only hope to reach Americaís growing population through the
aggressive planting of new churches.
10. The true fruit of an apple tree is not another apple, but another apple tree.
11. Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the
apples in a seed.
12. The function of an apple is twofold: to provide nourishment today for one
person, and to provide for the nourishment of thousands in generations to
13. Signing up for church planting is signing up for sacrifice.
14. Church planters become experts in how to handle hardship.
15. The word Ďpassioní means to suffer. If you want to plant a church but you
arenít willing to suffer, itís not your passion.
16. Church planters learn how hard it is to plant a church the way deer learn
about deer-hunting season Ė they get shot.
17. Church planters never ask, "Is it easy?" They instead ask, "Is it Godís
18. Church planting requires an extra measure of faith in Godís sovereignty.
19. Church planters necessarily pray without ceasing.
20. Church planting attracts people with big hearts for the lost.
21. Church planting also attracts dysfunctional Christians.
22. Many lost people long to find God; new churches make it easier for them
to do so.
23. Lost people can tell when they are genuinely loved. Planting a church for
them is undeniable evidence.
24. Upon all who believe, God has placed the burden of raising up churches.
25. Church planting is not optional for Adventist Christians; itís our calling.
26. Not every individual is called to plant churches, but everyone is called to
pray and encourage those who do.
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