Summary: The Great Commission of Jesus to reach the unreached provides the foundation for a church’s desire to plant/mother a new church.
Why A New Church
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Old time evangelist Vance Havner used to tell the story of an old fisherman. Ol’ Clem amazed everyone with his success. It didn’t matter what the weather was like or how productive other fishermen were. Clem always caught his limit. All his buddies wanted to know his secret. But no matter how many times they asked, Clem wouldn’t say.
Finally the game warden grew suspicious. One morning he showed up just as Clem was putting his old boat in the water. “I’m coming with you today,” the warden insisted. Clem protested to no avail. Finally the old fisherman shrugged his shoulders and said, "Okay, suit yourself."
The two climbed into the boat and motored over to a secluded cove on the lake. Clem sat there pondering his situation for the longest time. Finally, he said, "Well, I guess it’s time to fish." He opened his tackle box and pulled out a stick of dynamite. Before the game warden could say a word, Clem lit the dynamite and tossed it in the lake. The explosion blasted a huge fountain fifty feet in the air. Dozens of stunned fish bobbed to the surface. Clem calmly got out his net and started scooping up the fish.
At first the game warden sat there stunned as one of the fish. Finally, he let out a whoop, "Clem! You can’t do that. It’s illegal!" Ol’ Clem didn’t say a word. He reached into his tackle box and picked up another stick of dynamite. He lit it. He tossed it in the game warden’s lap and said, "Are you gonna’ fish or just sit there?"
Friends, the time has come to fish. The sitting is over. The time for fishing is here. In six weeks we will launch the first public services of Cornerstone Christian Church, a new church for Bowling Green and Pike County.
A lot has already happened. A lot more is going to happen in the next six weeks. From the very beginning two years ago when we started talking about this, one big question has shadowed—why. Why a new church?
Our text offers a big part of the answer. We are planting Cornerstone Christian Church for three very important reasons. These same reasons are at the heart of our motivations for all we do as a church whether across the street, down the road, or around the world.
Reason #1: We are starting a new church in Bowling Green because the Gospel is for sharing. Our faith is meant to be given away. The Good News that Jesus Christ died as a ransom for sin and that forgiveness and eternal life are available by grace through faith in him is too good to keep to ourselves. Jesus made that clear in our text. Bible students call this the Great Commission. Individually this is the mission statement for every disciple of Jesus. Collectively it is Jesus’ “last will and testament” for the church.
Note how the text says the disciples reacted to Jesus after his resurrection. They worshipped him but some doubted. I can understand their bewilderment. They loved Jesus but they weren’t sure what to make of something so totally outside of their normal experience. Jesus didn’t argue or scold. In essence, he said, “Guys, it’s time to decide. Are you gonna sit there or are you gonna fish?” Nothing gets doubters off the bubble or sitters on their feet like the task of giving away the faith.
This concept must have been important because it is found five times in the first five books of the New Testament. What we read is Matthew’s version. Likely, Jesus spoke extensively about this during his final days. Each record of the events emphasizes a different piece of the teachings.
Look at the other versions of the “commission.” Mark 16:15-16—“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Luke 24:46-48— “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” John 20:21, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord wants the unreached reached with the message of Jesus. The Bible makes this abundantly clear. The Bible says, “This (peaceful Christian behavior) is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Tim 2:3-5). “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pt 3:9).