Last week, we introduced you to the discipleship component of our Four Fields ministry strategy that’s built upon The Parable of the Growing Seed. Today we’re discussing the fourth field in hopes of helping you consider how and why believers gather as the Church.
Field 4: Church
In any context, a field of developed crops is the goal of a farmer. He sees the fruits of his labors and now knows he must bundle them together. In a time of celebration, he gathers the harvest.
Jesus’ maturing disciples are the ripe crops. Together, as a gathered bundle, the disciples are the church. In the Kingdom of God, the church is the means of multiplying God’s glory to cover the earth.
Throughout Scripture, we see the advancement of the Kingdom of God through the church. The end goal of scattering the seed, sharing the gospel, with people should not be simply to make a convert, but to make a disciple to then gather them into church.
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit unleashed in Jerusalem at Pentecost and many repented and believed in Jesus. Since this time, the proclamation of the gospel has led to the planting of churches. In Four Fields of Kingdom Growth, Nathan and Kari Shank declare, “Everywhere that the kingdom has spread, the church has been established as an outpost; the church is the vehicle of God’s kingdom.”
Planting new churches results in the multiplication of God’s glory.
God’s heart is for His name to be glorified throughout the world as lost people come to know Him and worship Him. The presence of God’s glory is a result of churches owning their collective identity as the body of Christ and obeying Jesus. This is the way that the church is the vehicle God uses to advance His Kingdom.
What is a church?
A church is group of baptized believers who meet regularly in various places whether that is in a home or church “venue” (Acts 2:41, 46). The church’s primary motive in gathering together regularly is to glorify God, while participating in various functions together.
How can we be churches that plant churches today?
1. Know who we are as a church.
The church is a group of priests, ambassadors, and disciple-makers (1 Peter 2:9; 1 Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 28:19-20). The collective identity of the church is to glorify God through entering new fields, sharing the gospel, making disciples, and gathering together to continue the growth. Planting churches is a natural result from healthy churches with God’s heart for multiplication.
2. Participate together in healthy church functions.
Identifying as church and embracing that identity includes moving forward in maturity and functioning as it was created. In Acts 2:38-47, we can see the basic activities that the early church participated in together. This is our basis for a healthy functioning church.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
These functions include repentance, baptism, fellowship, teaching God’s Word, leadership, giving, prayer, worship, breaking of bread, and discipleship.
Gathering together as church is the end goal of discipleship, but the harvest process does not end there. For the harvest to keep going, the farmer must hold back some of the grain to start a new season of crops. How does he do this?
About Four Fields
Four Fields is East-West’s ministry model that includes entering new ministry fields, sharing the gospel, discipling new believers, gathering as church, and developing leaders to continue this ongoing cycle. Based on The Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:26-29, we believe this strategy is seen in the ministry of Jesus and his disciples and is ultimately fueled by the Holy Spirit.