Introduction: Find the Keys

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also….”[1] Jesus’ disciples rocked the world in the first century! The transforming, life-giving, community-changing, nation-building power of the Gospel spread like wildfire. How do we make the same kind of impact upon our world today?

Can we find a simple “how to” book for making disciples among the world’s remaining unreached tribes and nations? Many tasks can be accomplished by following a list of directions. For example, to bake a loaf of bread, we follow a recipe, adding the right ingredients in the right order. For assembling a new bicycle, we have written instructions to lead us through the process.  In planning a new project, we try to figure out the sequence so we can move along step by step, from start to finish. However, when it comes to helping people, you can forget orderly sequences. God doesn’t seem to like formulas very much either. He wants us to depend upon His Spirit and His Word.

Help comes as we study the New Testament and find key principles. We are about to look at Biblical principles for multiplying churches among unreached peoples. The logical way is to present the keys in a linear fashion, from beginning to end. The danger in this is that we then expect our actual work to follow the same progression, step-by-step. We may worry so much about doing something out of sequence, that we miss the leading of the Holy Spirit!

Avoid thinking in terms of steps to be followed: 1, 2, 3, 4…. Rather, let’s look at these key church planting principles as actual, literal keys designed to unlock specific doors. Think of all the keys (we’ll identify 26 of them) attached to one big key ring. As we move into pioneer church planting, we will carry our keys along. We may find that many doors are already swung wide open. No need for a key if the door is open. Keys are only necessary for unlocking closed doors.

Imagine being a church planter who arrives on the field and immediately discovers a small, healthy fellowship already formed. The leader speaks your language and tells you the church is eager to multiply and reach their people. He asks, “We’re not sure what to do, will you help?” What joy! The process is well underway!  You would not go to “step number one,” you would join God in what He is already doing and use whatever keys might be needed as He leads you and these local believers forward.

Expect things to come out of sequence. There will be overlap. Many things happen simultaneously. By becoming familiar with the keys, you’ll know what to use, when, as you unlock church planting movements among the unreached.

To better understand New Testament keys to unlocking church planning movements among the unreached, we are going back in time to the first century A.D., when these keys were first used. As we do this, please be sure to check the footnotes for input on applying them today. Although these principles are 2,000 years old, every one of them is vital and relevant for today! Let’s learn from the experiences of a fictitious first-century cross-cultural church planter named Stephanas, as he simply follows the example of Jesus and the apostles.[2]

[1] Acts 17:6

[2] Thank you to Dr. George Patterson and Brian Hogan for their influence and help. George for lovingly mentoring and inspiring me in church planting. Brian for working closely with me in making the teaching easy to understand and pass on to others.