Why Is Starting A Church Called Church Planting?
Ever wondered why starting a new church is called church planting?
If you’ve thought about this before, you’ve probably concluded — and wisely so — that the phrase draws upon a metaphor of the church being a constantly growing, living organism that requires certain resources to nourish it and help it become strong and multiply.
Let’s take a deeper look into some of the specific applications this metaphor has for the church.
Primarily, plants need good soil to grow in so they can put down roots. Just as the bible passage about the seeds and the sower in Matthew 18 portrays a parable about the need for God’s word to fall on ready hearts and minds, so a new church needs to be prepared for by a firm foundation of believers who are trusting in God and are passionate about sharing His truth.
Just as plants need key resources to be able to survive, so do churches. The water that a church plant receives is the Holy Spirit, which fills the congregation with God’s great love and compassion and gives us the strength and desire to show that love to others.
As the light of the sun nourishes plants, the light of God’s glory nourishes us; His glory will help us grow strong in our faith as we draw near to Him. Did you know that sunflowers grow in the direction of the sun? Their faces point toward the sun because it helps them expedite photosynthesis — the sun is their source of the energy needed grow. Researchers explain this by saying that this reaction “is probably driven by some kind of internal clock.” Sunflowers continue to grow towards the sun until maturity — then they remain facing toward the sun in east.
In the same way, the church needs to keep its focus on God to continue to grow, thrive, and flourish. The Holy Spirit is our internal clock, giving us the desire to draw near Him. And we will continue to grow towards the Son, Jesus, until the day of maturity, which we will reach when we are in perfect union with Him in heaven.
Making A Garden
The advantage of planting a garden is that a variety of plants can grow in a nourishing, safe environment. The beauty of the church is that we’re all different, imperfect people — yet we can all exist in community together because God sees us all the same, beautifully created in His image (1 Peter 4:10, Galatians 6:2, Genesis 1:27). Some plants even enrich the soil and provide nutrients that other plants need and can use to grow. A wonderful collection of diversity in the church allows us to lend others our strengths and draw on others to help us in our weaknesses as the body of Christ.
Every good garden needs to be carefully attended to so that weeds don’t grow up as a result of negligence. Likewise, it’s important to make sure that our church isn’t being hurt by existing sin in other believers’ lives that is being ignored out of convenience and desire to avoid confrontation. As Jesus followers, the church is called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and to go and talk to those who wrongs you, even taking the issue to the church if necessary (Matthew 18:15-20).
Putting Down Roots
Plants have to put down roots so that they don’t wither or blow away when the rain and storms come. Just so, a community of believers needs to be deeply rooted in the word of God, prioritizing the gospel in the message and in live. But our roots shouldn’t stop there. The church also exists to invest in the community around them by reaching out to those in need, comforting those who mourn, feeding the hungry, clothing the cold, and making genuine, caring relationships with both believers and non-believers (James 2:14-17).
These are just some of the many reflections of the rich metaphor “church planting.” How are you helping your church grow?