“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2
The local church began with Christ and His disciples. The Great Commission of reaching, baptizing, and teaching was given to the local church (Matthew 28:18-20).
The authority of the local church rests in her Head, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18). We are not building His church; He is building His church (Matthew 16:18). The local, visible, identifiable, New Testament assembly of believers follows Christ’s commands through the leadership of His undershepherd and overseer, the pastor (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
The biblical pastor under Christ is the initiator of His work in the local church. He leads the church in the understanding of its responsibility to reach the world for Christ. He directs the church to become reproducible through building leaders whose lives are reproducible as well. The living organism of the local church thus reproduces after its own kind through division (see the example of Philip in Acts 8:1, 4, 5).
The church at Antioch in Acts 13 sent out men who were called, qualified, and capable. They were not looking for somewhere to send someone to be “an encouragement” to them. They were not looking for a place of service elsewhere for those who could not or would not serve effectively in their own local church. Neither were they weary with holding back those with empty zeal to let them “give it a try” (this accounts for many failed church plants). Barnabas and Saul did not go to the church; the Holy Spirit sent the church to them. Called men do not seek leadership; leadership seeks them.
A church that is serious about reproducing herself and desiring to bear fruit that remains sends out those men who are already faithful and diligent in the Lord’s work. They have submitted themselves to the leadership of the pastor and had hands on training for an extended period of time. Having proved themselves faithful in all things, God works in both their heart and the pastor’s. The pastor recognizes God’s hand upon their lives and by the leadership of the Holy Spirit discerns the timing of the Lord and His call to send them out to plant other churches. This leads to successful churches being reproduced.
The wise pastor does not keep all his best men and send out the rest. He trains capable men to multiply the work of the Lord—all the while having faith that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers to replace them. He is pure in his own motives and does not try to send out too many too soon so he can boast in “his church-planting efforts.” Not only could these men of character and commitment that he trains work on his staff, but he would feel comfortable placing his own family under their ministry.
The wise preacher serving Christ under the leadership of his pastor sees the wisdom of God in honoring one’s faithfulness in that which is another man’s. Character is consistent. Diligent service in the titleless areas of ministry qualifies men for opportunities of greater responsibility in the work of the Lord (Luke 16:10-12). God knows where His men are and sends for them in His time (Psalm 75:5-7; Romans 14:4).
Think of having the call of God and the total support of a pastor and people in establishing a new work. There are many practical and spiritual benefits. A church planter’s greatest ally under Christ is his undershepherd who will recognize God’s hand upon his life, be honest with him, instruct, correct and support him (Proverbs 9:8, 9; 15:12, 14; 24:6).
Some need to move beyond trying to get God and others in on their work. They need to purpose to get in on God’s work as they submit to the one who watches for their souls and wants God’s best for them. God at times shows us through our pastor that which we would not have been shown otherwise (Hebrews 13:7).
Opportunities in the Lord’s work depend on the Lord’s timing and our faithfulness. His favor and church planting success comes to those who honor the order which He has established.
“The thoughts [well-laid plans] of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Proverbs 21:5