Tuesday, September 29, 2009


What is it going to take for the church in North America to become vibrant, powerful and able to fulfill the mission that God has given it to pursue? Along with the need for a special anointing of the Holy Spirit and a revival of Holiness to fall upon our churches I also feel that there is another major component that has been missing for a very long time. This component comes from a doctrinal distinctive that Baptist and other groups have believed but I have not been fleshed out to its fullest extent in Christian living in these recent times. And that is the doctrine of:

The Priesthood of the Believer.

We talk about it and say that we believe it but when it comes to putting it into practice we are very slow to respond. I believe that if we fully understand and implement this doctrine more fully in our church lives we would begin to see a major movement of God sweeping our North American Continent in the form of a Church Planting Movement.

According to James Leo Garrett Jr.:

"Each believer priest has a responsibility to be committed to Christ and to share Christ through word and deed. As Peter stated it: to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)."
We clearly say that we believe it is the responsibility of every believer to share Christ through word and deed. We also see the New Testament believers doing exactly that:

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria ... Those who
had been scattered preached the word wherever they went."
Acts 8:1, 4 (NIV)

Who were the ones who went out preaching the word? Not the apostles for they remained in Jerusalem. It was those ordinary believers who had to scattered due to the persecution. These ordinary believers left Jerusalem and went to other towns and when they got there they began to preach the good news of Christ. As people began to receive Christ and his salvation those same ordinary believers gathered those new followers into small communities of faith (churches) that met in houses.

Those ordinary believers were the first missionary church planters.

They weren't professionals! They hadn't received any special training from some fancy institution! They were just your garden variety believers who understood that their responsibility was to faithfully share the good news and gather the people together (church) to learn what they had learned.

We see this same process happening all over the world where there is an explosion of a church planting movement. Churches in India, China, Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America are all being started and multiplying at an exponential rate. The church is growing so fast in those areas that it is out growing the general population. In contrast the church in North America is growing slower than the general population. Why? Why is the church in the rest of the world growing faster than the church in North America? I believe, in part, it is because the church in North America has failed to:

raise up, train up and unleash its members into the church planting fields.

Instead of entrusting this vital ministry to our members we have put the major amount of our eggs into the basket of professional church planters. We have become very sophisticated in how we select those who will be start our new churches. And the results have come in from that approach:

We failed miserably with that approach. There is not enough personnel or financial resources available to start the number of churches that need to be started with that kind of approach. We desperately need a much bigger personnel pool to chose from and a style of church that uses very little financial resources. And from what I have seen in scripture and church history that unlimited pool of personnel are sitting right in our pews just waiting to be unleashed. Ordinary believers were the main workers that God used in the New Testament. Ordinary believers are the workers we see throughout church history as being the primary church planters. If those believers who are part of our churches refuse to take up mantle of responsibility to be the new church planters it will be due to the fact that we trained them to be satisfied as pew warmers. If our church members refuse to take up this church planting responsibility I am convinced that there will be plenty of new church planters found in the harvest if, we train up these new believers to understand that their purpose in life is to be a missionary that reaches their neighborhood for Christ and gathers them into small communities of faith (church).