God intends for church planting work to begin in our Jerusalem and continue systematically outward to our Judaea, our Samaria and then finally to the uttermost parts of the earth. The key word both in Acts 1:8 indicates this work is to be accomplished simultaneously. This truth leads us to the question: is it possible to seek to establish a church in the wrong place?
I would like you to consider the thought that it may be the wrong time to establish a church in a specific community, but if there are lost souls in that city in need of a Saviour, it cannot be the wrong place. If, “Go ye into all the world,” truly means all the world than God wants a Gospel witness in every city.
Every community needs a church God calls, “The pillar and ground of the truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15).
Some of us have such a myopic vision of what it means to plant a church that we do not even consider the possibility that God wants all churches to be multiplying churches (Acts 9:31).
Many church planters are focused on planting one church with no thought that this new church should be a launching pad from which to plant multiple churches. A focus on just one city is too small a focus for the preacher who understands God’s command for churches to multiply churches. May God deliver us from preachers so absorbed with their Jerusalem ministry that they have become poor examples to the next generation of preachers concerning the priority of the New Testament churches.
A Local New Testament Church Should Always Be in the Process of Planting a New Church
Our focus should be like that of the churches at Jerusalem, Antioch, and Thessalonica in seeking to bring the Gospel to the next city, the next county, the next state, the next nation. Because the command is to go into the entire world, there cannot be a wrong city.
Do not make the mistake of allowing the exception to become the rule. Of the more than twenty cities where the Apostle Paul sought to plant a church, God only redirected his steps twice. On all the other occasions God allowed him to go where he felt the Spirit was leading him. Barnabas had a burden for Cyprus and we see him leading a team in Acts 13 to that island on the first church-planting trip. I believe that if God is leading you to a city that needs a church, you should move forward unless God redirects your steps.
Cyprus was near and dear to Barnabas because it was his home country (Acts 4:36). I believe that is why he made it his first stop on the church-planting trip. Paul took Silas to the region of Cilicia because it was home country (Acts 22:3).
In Acts 15 when Paul, Silas, and Timothy sought to go to Asia the Holy Spirit redirected their steps to Macedonia instead. Did God not want churches in Asia? Of course He did. In the next church-planting journey they spent two years in Asia, and in Revelation chapters two and three seven churches, were planted in Asia.
The question is not whether there is a need for churches everywhere; but, rather, where should we go first? God knew the field of Macedonia would be ripe for harvest and sent His workers there first. During the next journey God allowed Paul to go to Asia as he had desired to before. In Acts 19:10 we read, “And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
I would rather be guilty of God having to tell me “No, not yet,” in an effort to see a church planted then stand before His Judgment Seat and have Him ask, “Why didn’t you go to that city?”
9 Factors to Consider When Deciding Where to Plant a Church
- Consider the closest areas first—Acts 8:5
- Consider ripened fields—Acts 8:12; John 4:35-38
- Consider all cities and villages needy places—Acts 8:25
- Communion with the Lord provides specific direction—Acts 8:26-29
- Carefully follow the Spirit’s prompting—Acts 8:27-29
- Concentrate your efforts on where God is working—Acts 18:10
- Circumstances that are more than coincidental—Acts 11:11
- Continue pressing onward—Acts 11:19
- Confirmation through fruitful evangelism—Acts 11:20-21