Chapter 21

[et_pb_section][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text]




Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

  • Write the Key Verse from memory.
    • Identify ten steps of the church planting cycle.
    • Identify seven priorities of ministry where Paul focused his evangelistic efforts.


Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. (Ephesians 3:21)


In this lesson you will learn how evangelism leads to the planting of churches whose members are trained to repeat the same cycle of spiritual reproduction. By following this pattern, church planting becomes a powerful, continuous force of evangelism.

In addition to learning about this cycle of church planting, the “For Further Study” section provides practical guidelines for actually planting a new church.


The ministry of the Apostle Paul provides the best example of the church planting cycle of New Testament times.                      Be sure to read the Scriptures in your Bible:

Here are the steps of the church planting cycle used in New Testament times which can be applied to modern efforts:

1.        WORKERS COMMISSIONED: Acts 13:1-4; 15:39-40

Workers were trained and commissioned to reach a certain area with the Gospel. Believers in the home church helped prepare, send, support, and cooperate with those God set apart for the work.

2.         PEOPLE CONTACTED: Acts 13:14-16; 14:1; 16:13-15

When he entered a new area, Paul usually made a courtesy contact with existing religious leaders in the synagogue. He attempted to gain the understanding and support of local leaders as much as possible. Group and individual contacts followed, the goal being to get as wide a hearing as possible for the Gospel message.

3.                  GOSPEL COMMUNICATED: Acts 13:17; 16:31

The Gospel was communicated by preaching, teaching, witnessing, and the demonstration of power. Different methods were used in order to effectively communicate the Gospel. The method in some cities was to teach in the synagogue (Acts 14:1). In others, receptive people were separated into special groups (Acts 19:9). Special ministry to individual people groups occurred in some areas (Acts 13:42) and language as well as methods were adjusted to assure proper communication of the Gospel (Acts 22:2).

4.                  HEARERS CONVERTED: Acts 13:48; 16:14-15

The effective communication of the Gospel resulted in conversion, with people accepting the message of salvation and repenting of sin.

5.                  BELIEVERS CONGREGATED: Acts 13:43

Paul did not stop with evangelism and conversion. He organized the believers into a local church. New believers were immediately introduced into the fellowship and discipline of the local Body. Times and places were set for the assembling together of the new church.

6.                  FAITH CONFIRMED: Acts 14:21,22; 15:41

As indicated by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), further teaching followed conversion. This teaching, within the context of the local church, established new converts as they learned basics of the Christian faith and how to live in the Kingdom of God. The “confirmation of the faith” developed spiritual maturity and helped believers discover their spiritual gifts and become functioning members of the Body of Christ.

7.                  LEADERS CONSECRATED: Acts 14:23

As believers matured, local leaders were raised up by God. Each church developed a Biblical organization which was scriptural, functional, and effective for their geographic location.

Authority to exercise spiritual gifts was given to the church at once, with leadership raised up from within the new congregation. When Paul selected elders, they were chosen from within the people, not imported from other regions:

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee. (Titus 1:5)

  • CHURCH COMMENDED: Acts 14:23; 16:40

When leaders were in place and functioning effectively, dependency on the church planters ceased. An orderly transition was made from the founder to the new local leaders. The church was commended or turned over to the Lord as a functioning, local Body of believers. Although new churches were related to the mother church in terms of fellowship and leadership, they were not dependent upon the main church. They were self-supporting churches able to carry on the work of the Gospel without depending on outside financial support.

All financial arrangements made for a new church should be such that the people themselves can control their own business. If a church receives support from another church, denomination, or believers in another nation then it becomes dependent upon them. If the sponsoring church or denomination fails, the new church will also fail. If relations between those nations are severed, the church will experience difficulties when support from the other country is cut off.

The same Lord that turned water into wine and multiplied a few bread and fishes to feed the multitudes is certainly capable of raising up funds necessary for the extension of the Gospel. Paul founded new churches on the Word of God and the Rock, Christ Jesus. He did not found them on an organization or denomination or his own personality. Creating dependence does not train for independence.

9.                  RELATIONSHIPS CONTINUED: Acts 15:36; 18:23

Relationships continued between the new fellowship, the church planter (Paul), and the mother church (Jerusalem). Relationships were also established between the new fellowship and other churches throughout the region to further the spread the Gospel.

10.              THE CYCLE REPEATED: 1 Thessalonians 1:8

As in the Thessalonian Church, the “Word of God was sounded forth” from the new church to unreached people and the cycle of evangelism was repeated to plant additional churches.


Paul had a definite worldwide strategy in evangelism and church planting. The Bible record reveals his concern for Asia, Galatia, Macedonia, Acacia, and Spain, which were whole provinces at the time. Study these locations where Paul planted churches:

-Philipi: (Acts 16) This was the leading city of Macedonia.

-Thessalonica: (Acts 17:1-10) This was a large, influential commercial city.

-Corinth: (Acts 18:1-11) A commercial metropolis of Greece.

-Ephesus: (Acts 19:1-10) Where the main highways of the Roman empire stretched from Rome to the east. Ephesus was a strategic port and trading center.

These examples reveal seven priorities for ministry:


The locations where Paul established churches were centers of Roman administration, Greek civilization, Jewish influence, or commercial importance. Paul knew he could reach a greater number of people in the crowded cities. He also realized that change usually starts in cities and then spreads to rural areas. These great centers of trade and tourism also had people of many nations passing through for business and pleasure. The cities were on the travel routes where the natural movement of people occurred. As these visitors were reached with the Gospel, they took the message with them when they returned home.

Paul moved in widening circles from these established mission bases. After Paul left Jerusalem he turned his attention to Asia Minor, laboring first in Tarsus and Antioch (Acts 11:25-30; 13:1- 3), then West Asia-Minor with Ephesus as his center (Acts 19:1-20; 16:8). From there, Paul moved west with Rome as the center and Spain as the remotest part reached (Acts 19:21; 23:11; 28:14-31; Romans 1:9-15; 15:24,28).


In Matthew 10, Jesus told His disciples not to go to Samaritans or Gentiles but to go to Israel. The timing was right then for Israel. The other groups would be receptive later. Even among the Jews, the disciples were to minister to the receptive. They were to stay and share where they received a good response and move on when they met unreceptive peoples. They were to concentrate their efforts on the areas of greatest receptivity.

Paul also followed this strategy. When the Jews rejected the Gospel, Paul turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:42-51). When Athens was not ready, Paul went to Corinth. In Corinth, Paul turned from the Jews to the Gentiles. The receptive Greeks rejoiced and many believed and were baptized (Acts 18:5-11). The Lord approved Paul’s actions through a vision telling him to stay in Corinth and fearlessly proclaim Christ (Acts 18:5-11). When synagogue communities rejected him, Paul started congregations with those who were receptive. When persecution drove him out, he went to another city.


Paul was concerned with reaching his own people with the Gospel:

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  (Romans 10:1)


Paul gave priority to areas where Christ had not yet been preached:

Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation;

But as it is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand. (Romans 15:20-21)

Areas in which there is no existing witness to the Gospel should always be the priority. Read the parable of the sheep in Luke 15:3-7. The priority was the lost sheep, not those in the fold. (See also Romans 10:13-14.)


Paul worked with various people groups within a city or region. For example, he ministered both to the Greek and Jewish people groups in Antioch (Acts 13:42). As you have learned in Chapter Six, a people group is a tribe, caste, or any group of like cultural, linguistic, and ethnic background. It is important to view a city or region in terms of such groups and do church planting accordingly.

For example, in one city in the United States there are large populations of Spanish speaking, English speaking, and Mandarin Chinese speaking peoples. Bridging growth to plant churches in this city should target these specific people groups. Planting a Tagalog speaking church in this city would not be beneficial as there are no Tagalog speaking groups in the city. This is why church planting must always focus on the people groups within a certain area, not just the city in general.

Planting churches within certain people groups advances the Gospel most quickly. Members of a people group all speak the same language and have the same customs. There are no linguistic or cultural barriers to hinder the spread of the Gospel. For these reasons, the Gospel can spread rapidly.

Harvestime International Institute offers a course entitled “Environmental Analysis” that assists in analyzing an area prior to ministry. We suggest you obtain this course to assist in church planting. The course will assist you in:

  1. Identifying the people to be reached. What different people groups make up the city or region? Who do you plan to reach? What is their religious, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic background?
  • Identifying their spiritual needs. For example, is a church needed among the Spanish speaking of a certain city? Perhaps their needs are being ministered to but the French speaking of that area are neglected spiritually.
  • Determining receptivity to the Gospel.
  • Determining methods you will use to reach these people. How can they best be reached? Who should reach them?


Paul communicated the Gospel through mass communication. He took the opportunity to address large crowds:

And it came to pass in Iconium that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. (Acts 14:1)


Paul preached to multitudes but he also knew the value of investing his life in a few key men who would be able to teach others also. Timothy was one of these men as was Titus and even John Mark, who had once been refused for discipleship training (Acts 15:36-40). It was Paul through which the Holy Spirit revealed God’s plan for each believer to multiply spiritually (2 Timothy 2:2).

Working with other believers like Barnabas and Silas, as well as the disciples he trained, greatly multiplied the ministry of the Apostle Paul. On his second and third missionary journeys, Paul enlisted the help of coworkers who were native to the region where they planned to work. This is a key principle. Africans can best reach Africans. Indians can best reach their own people.

Asians can best penetrate their own continent with the Gospel. They speak the language, understand the customs, and have already adjusted to the lifestyle.