Apostles today are sent out – not only to evangelize and win the lost – but to plant new churches. When the Holy Spirit said in Acts 13:2 that Barnabas and Saul were to be set apart “for the work to which I have called them,” the ‘work’ in view was clearly to plant churches throughout the Roman Empire.
There is a wonderful pattern here. Apostles are sent out from the church to do the work of planting new churches. The next step, shown in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 is even more exciting: The new church itself then becomes an apostolic base, sending out it own workers to do the work of establishing still more churches. Thus not only are disciples going into all the world and making more disciples – but churches are also reproducing themselves as they reach out with the Gospel and plant new churches as the Kingdom continues to expand.
The beautiful thing about this process is that it is designed to go on and on and on and on and on… Every church is supposed to be reproducing and sending qualified apostles and apostolic teams into the harvest field to plant new works. These new churches can, in turn, send out even more workers in the harvest field and so on. It is truly meant to be a process that never ends.
This pattern in the New Testament shows the high priority God places on evangelism and “missions.” It goes beyond seeing people come to salvation; it is greater than offering humanitarian aid where and when it is needed; it involves the planting of new churches – churches that will continue the task of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and discipling new converts – while also reaching out and planting another and then another church.
It is regretful today that we don’t see most churches reproducing and planting new churches. This is still a very effective way to evangelize just as it was in the Roman Empire during the time of Paul’s apostolic ministry. It is hoped that as apostolic ministry becomes more widely accepted and the influence of apostles increases in the life of the local church that we will see this process of multiplication begin once again and become a part of regular life within each and every local church.