8 Key Principles in Cross-Cultural Church Planting
By Bruce Carlton
1. Church planting begins with lost people.
In the New Testament we see Paul and his team going into cities, preaching the gospel, leading those who repent to faith in Jesus Christ, gathering the new followers of Jesus into churches for discipleship and witness, and raising up leaders.
2. Church is very, very simple.
When you look at the New Testament, we see that the structure of the church was very simple, and we see that the ministry of the church is simple as well - studying the Word, witnessing, serving one another, prayer, worship, fellowship, etc. Further, leadership was very simple - elders who devoted themselves to prayer and teaching/preaching, and deacons who were servants.
3. Church is not a place where we go; it is who we are.
Nowhere in the New Testament is the church identified as a place where one goes. No one ‘went’ to church; they were the church, and they were the church whether they were gathered or scattered. The only times place in mentioned in the church is in reference to where it was located - the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the church at Rome.
4. Church is an organism, not an organization.
The descriptions of the church in the New Testament are all organic descriptions - the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, a spiritual house, the people of God, etc. Organisms maintain their existence through their ability to reproduce themselves, and so it is with the church. The church was created to reproduce and multiply.
5. Church planting is done in teams (you never work alone).
In the New Testament, Paul always traveled with a team and his mission work was carried out in teams. In this way, there is mutual support and encouragement. This allows for real-life, real-time discipleship to take place.
6. Discipleship is best accomplished in community.
You may have heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In church planting, it takes a church to make a disciple. Discipleship is best carried out in community, and that community is the body of Christ.
7. The resources are in the harvest.
The future leaders of the churches that will be planted have yet to come to faith in Christ. Second, the elders in the New Testament came from within the local body of Christ of which they were a part. The leaders come from within the harvest.
8. To disciple someone else you only need to be one step ahead.
In order for a disciple to teach another to obey all that Christ commands, they need only be obeying in a way their disciple is not. When teaching another to follow Jesus you do not have to know the end of the process, you only need to teach another how to follow Jesus in the process.