Proclaim the Gospel. Make disciples. Plant churches.
We make deliberate choices to continue pursuing personal holiness, pleading to God to make us more loving.
Have you ever read Acts 14:19-23? I recommend you take some time right now to read it. It is a fantastic description of the task of church planting.
It’s on the tail-end of Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey. It’s the first church-planting journey of the Apostle Paul. It was ordained by the Holy Spirit and the church. It was led by Paul, who had a personal revelation of Jesus!
Surely it was glorious.
Well, it was fruitful. I wouldn’t say “glorious.” It appears to have been difficult and painful, but nonetheless joyful and worthy.
On this one journey, the apostles were openly opposed, probably, in every city. They were slandered, disbelieved, mistreated, persecuted, their team broke up, and then finally, Paul was stoned so badly he appeared to be dead.
But Paul got up.
And then they went back through all those same cities, encouraging the believers and establishing churches.
I was asked to write about what we do as part of Mustard Seed Network.
Mustard Seed Network is a network of church-planting churches in urban Japan. Our mission is to glorify God by making disciples through planting gospel-centered churches in urban Japan. Our vision is to see the cities of Japan saturated with and impacted by gospel-centered churches that further the global cause of Jesus Christ.
That sounds awesome. And it is. But it’s not glorious. It’s very difficult. And we are all sinful enough to make it harder than it already would be.
When we tell people about Jesus, most of them don’t care.
Thousands of people have heard the gospel. Most of them don’t believe.
There is fruit though. By the time you read this, there will be 5 church plants, over 150 baptisms, and over 500 people worshipping in these church plants.
This is what we try to do:
We make deliberate choices to continue pursuing personal holiness, pleading to God to make us more loving. We decide—after much team conflict, counseling, countless people rejecting the gospel, doing the ugly, but very good and necessary work of church discipline—to continue to preach the gospel, make disciples, plant churches, and establish elders. And then do it again and again.
Every church plant is different. Every church plant has faced different issues. Every city is full of people who love sin and hate God and the last thing their (and our) sinful hearts want to hear is, “I have great news! You are so sinful! You need a savior! Guess what! God loves you so much that he sent his son, Jesus Christ to be the savior you need. So repent. Believe in him. Let’s follow him together!”
It’s not a popular message.
Why continue if it’s so hard?
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful….”
When you tell people the gospel many of them will reject it. But not everyone.
And God is worthy of having those people worship him. So we need to keep doing this.