Church planting is biblical
One of the more trendy topics in the body of Christ generating tons of discussion right now is church planting. I, for one, rejoice in this. I believe that the story of the Book of Acts isn’t merely one of evangelism, but evangelism for the sake of planting healthy, reproducing, Spirit-filled, gospel preaching, missionary oriented, local churches. In Acts we see the apostles preaching the gospel for the salvation of individuals, and the subsequent gathering of those people into local congregations, the placing of elders over each local church, and the ongoing spiritual nourishment of those new churches. The rest of the New Testament provides for us specific letters of instruction written to actual local congregations, which had been planted through the missionary endeavors we read of in the Book of Acts.
Networking for the sake of mission and church planting is biblical
Many today agree that church planting as God’s main evangelistic strategy is clearly portrayed in the New Testament. What I find to be less common is the belief that the idea of networking for the planting of churches is clearly exemplified in the New Testament. Many people are all for a lone man who is called of God venturing out to plant a church. But the picture of local churches strategically partnering for the planting of churches through sharing resources, workers, and training is, to some, a little extreme. Some would even say it’s a work of the flesh. But my conviction is that, if you take a fresh look at many passages in Scripture, not only is church planting an apostolic priority, but networking between various existing local churches for the sake of mission and church planting is an apostolic priority, one that should be taken seriously in our world today. Networking for planting and getting the gospel out isn’t a novel idea or new invention that groups like the Acts 29 Network, Verge Network, Together for the Gospel, or the Calvary Church Planting Network have come up with. It is a tool and method for reaching the lost and spiritually dead masses weaved into the missionary testimony and DNA of the Scriptures.
At the heart of the idea of networking is the value of collaboration. When you network, you co-labor with others who carry out unique and necessary roles for the fulfillment of a shared objective. Understanding networking to be collaboration, it can be legitimately stated that the Trinity is the first church-planting network. Each individual Person of God in the community of the Trinity shares the common interest of saving all who trust in Jesus. Those who come to faith in the biblical gospel are born-again, and become the worldwide church, planted on the earth. To accomplish the shared objective of planting the worldwide church (universal church), each member of the Trinity co-labored (networked together) by playing a unique role which the other two members of the Trinity didn’t. Ephesians chapter 1 is one passage that fleshes out how the members of the Trinity worked together to save God’s people, and plant the worldwide church.
1. The Father Planned our Salvation
As Paul wrote, He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us acceptable in the Beloved.”
The Father played the role of the great Planner of our salvation. He blessed God’s people with every spiritual blessing in Christ. This includes choosing, from before the foundation of the world, to allow us to be in a relationship with Himself through Jesus, when He owed us nothing but damnation. It includes, as well, deciding to spiritually adopt us as His kids through Christ. He planned to do all of this simply because it made Him happy, or “according to the good pleasure of His will.” He did all of this before He even created us. Before we fell into sin as a race, and before we were a thought in our parent’s minds, or accident in our mother’s bellies, the Father decided He would do these things for those who are His through Christ.
2. The Son Provided our Salvation
As Paul notes, “In Him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace …” Whereas the Father is the Planner of our salvation, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father and second Person of the Trinity, is the Provider of our salvation. If the Son had not made atonement for our sins, satisfying the penalty of our sins and the righteous demands of God’s law, the Father could not save us and remain just. But Jesus did die for our sins. He absorbed the wrath of God we deserve to endure on the cross, and fulfilled the demands of God’s justice. As a result of His co-laboring for our salvation with the Father, through faith in Him we can be forgiven, and the worldwide church can be born and planted on the earth. And through all of this, because of the Son, the Father can remain both, “Just, and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
3. The Holy Spirit Pursues us for Salvation
The final networking member of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. The Father planned our salvation, the Son provided the basis for our experience of salvation, and the Holy Spirit pursues us and grants the practical application of salvation. He convicts us of our need to receive the salvation planned by the Father and provided by the Son, through enabling us to put our faith in the biblical gospel. Articulating His role in our salvation, again, in Ephesians 1, Paul said, “In Him (Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” If you are a born-again Christian, it is because of the Holy Spirit. He pursued you, enabled you to trust in Christ, and made sure the salvation planned for you by the Father, and provided for you by the Son, was experienced by you during the course of your life.
Before talking about our need, and the biblical basis for networking to plant churches, it is important to recognize how networking for the planting of THE church was carried out amongst the members of the Trinity. The Father planned, the Son provided, and the Spirit pursued us and practically applied our salvation. They worked together, fulfilling their unique roles for the accomplishment of the common objective of planting the worldwide church on earth. I believe the image of God is manifested beautifully when local churches continue to network together for the planting of more local churches, which collectively continue to form that great worldwide local church, God has been planting for generations. Next week we’ll continue thinking about New Testament networking as we look at the biblical example of local churches sharing human, financial, and training resources for the planting of gospel-centered local churches. For now, feel free to share your thoughts on what we’ve covered thus far in the comments section below!
 Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV
 Ephesians 1:8 NKJV
 Romans 3:26 NKJV
 John 16:8-11