In just a week and a half, West Coast Baptist College seniors will be graduating and going out into the harvest field to serve in and plant local New Testament churches. The local church is the vehicle God has chosen through which to deliver His Gospel to the world. Christ promised that He would build His church, but, as we’ve taught our students, He’s chosen to do it through us. Here are 4 steps He has given us in New Testament church building:
1. He sends us to evangelize.
Just before His ascension, Christ commanded His disciples to evangelize the entire world: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:18-19).
This last command of Christ should be our highest priority. Unfortunately, churches are prone to spend the majority of their time and effort in lesser pursuits than the salvation of souls. Regular soulwinning and outreach is a must for building a New Testament church.
2. He adds to the church.
As we are faithful to give out the Gospel, the Holy Spirit will convict hearts and lead people to salvation. We can’t add anyone to the church; that is the work of God. But, it was when the early apostles were Spirit-filled witnesses that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).
3. He builds the church.
When Peter proclaimed his belief that Jesus was the very Son of God, Christ explained that this truth is the foundation upon which He builds His church: “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
4. He involves His people.
Jesus used a parable to illustrate the opportunity He has given us as His servants: “He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:12-13). This parable pictures Christ giving us the resources to do His work and holding us accountable for our faithfulness to do it.
God could have chosen to do His work Himself, or He could have sent angels for the task. But He has graciously given us the privilege of participation. It is Christ who adds to and builds the church, but He has chosen to do so through our faithful witness and involvement in His work.
I’m thankful I get to be a part of what God is doing in Lancaster, California, and I’m deeply grateful for other faithful pastors around the world who lead their churches in God’s plan of growth.