Summary: I read an article recently about church planting and the author talked about all of the humanitarian things that result from doing so. It got me to thinking: is church planting what Jesus really wants if it’s going to following the humanitarian model?
The message today is titled “Why we are here.” I’m not asking a question, as you can see, but making a statement of purpose. Now I’m not talking about why we are here at this church. Well, at least not directly. I’m talking about why those of us who call ourselves Christian, who are born again and are part of the family of God, are here.
And I want to begin with a few quotes from the president of an organization that was founded 20 years ago to plant and establish new churches here in the US and abroad. The concept of church planting, in and of itself, is commendable. He says …
“Church planting is God’s primary mission strategy for expanding His work.”
“Church planting is critical for fulfilling the mission of Jesus. It’s a myth that there are enough churches already.”
“Church planting not only revitalizes older congregations, but it’s the best way to reach new people groups and generations and achieve diversity.”
Now I want to read to you what he said stands out to him about planting churches.
“The biggest thing that stands out to me is churches that are feeding people in their communities. These churches are coming together during COVID, looking for ways to serve and honor their communities, even during difficult times.”
What these churches are doing are good things. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But let’s continue.
“One church the group planted called every person living alone in a particular community to figure out what kind of support they needed during the pandemic. It hasn’t always been easy, but these churches are really sensing the needs in their communities and meeting them. They’re really stepping into this cultural moment.”
Again, these are good things. But is trying to figure out the needs of the community the primary role of the Church? Are there not social programs that do that? And if this is the primary focus of church planting, should church planting be the primary role of the Church?
Is church planting, as the author states, “God’s primary mission strategy?” Is church planting “critical to fulfilling the mission of Jesus?”
When I read things like this, my mind begins to “search” for scripture that supports what I am reading. And, as I read this piece, it became apparent to me that the organization’s view about the Church’s “mission” may not agree with the “mission” Jesus has given to the Church.
Let’s begin with a question. What does it means to have a mission? According to Mr. Webster, whom I’m sure we all know, a mission is “a specific task with which a person or a group is charged.” Webster also includes this a definition – “a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work.”
Did you notice the last phrase – carry on humanitarian work? Far too many churches see themselves as one of many humanitarian or social or cultural groups designed to meet the needs of the community. And, on some level, I can understand that. When we feed people who are genuinely hungry or we give clothes to those who truly need them, then we will feel like “we’re doing Christ’s work,” don’t we? Of course we do! And to a degree we are.
Feeding people. Clothing people. Serving people. Good things. Needed things. But are doing the good things the right thing for the Church? What is our mission? Why are we here? Before answering these questions, we must answer the question that must be answered first.
What was Jesus’ mission?
Turn with me to Luke 19. We’re going to read verse 10.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.”
Based on what we read here in Luke, Jesus’ “mission” was twofold.
? First, He came to seek the lost. The word “seek” means “to seek after, look for, strive to find.” The word lost is the Greek word apollumi, which means “to destroy, to perish.”
Jesus came to find those who were on their way to the lake of fire for all eternity. That was the first part of His mission.
? The second part of Jesus’ mission was to save the lost who wanted to be saved – who wanted to escape the lake of fire and spend an eternity in heaven. It’s the Greek word sozo and means “to save, deliver, make whole, preserve life from danger, loss or destruction.”
Ladies and gentlemen, if Jesus had had His way, He would save everyone. But we know that He does not make us choose Him. Only those individuals “who want to be saved” will be saved. I hope you see this.
Now, according to Luke 19:10, Jesus’ mission was not one of humanitarianism. Yes, He fed the hungry. But He did not go the villages to find those who were hungry or who needed clothes. That was not His Father’s will. His Father’s will was that He looked for those headed to the lake fire and give them a change to avoid it.