I would recommend all of the messages at our recent Plant conference. But I would recommend that you get started by listening to the excellent message by my good friend Mark Dever titled, “The Great Commission and Church Planting” (Matthew 28:16-20). The message will help you understand the relation between the Great Commission and church planting.
The message was dense in content and Mark’s rate of speech was, as it normally is, warp speed. I’m saying you cannot comprehend all this with a single listen. But you can try by downloading the message here.
I doubt a single listen will be sufficient.
And here are a few notes and an outline that may help you follow along:
The Great Commission and Church Planting (Matthew 28:16-20)
March 25, 2011
Plant Conference (Glen Mills, PA)
Introduction: “I want to pose six questions to help us think about the Great Commission and church planting.”
Question 1: How are we to fulfill the Great Commission? “A true church is marked by the right preaching of the Word of God, and the right administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the preaching of the gospel. In the lives of those baptized and coming to the Lord’s Supper then a corporate witness begins to appear. A church is planted as people begin to see this group of people as followers of Jesus.”
Question 2: What is the big picture? “We find that the big picture in the Bible, from Israel to the redeemed in heaven, seem to show us a pattern of God wanting to be known as faithful and having community around him which knows him and praises him as one who is faithful and just and true.”
Question 3: What has God done? “So God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is involved in church planting far more profoundly than any person in this room will ever be involved in church planting—far more profoundly than the Apostle Paul was involved in church planting! The church is not something which in the most fundamental sense is a human idea or a human creation, but it is fundamentally God’s idea and God’s work. This is what he is about. God is a great church planter.”
Question 4: What did the apostles understand? “Friends, the sort of church-centered ministry where you go out and evangelize, but you do it specifically with the hope and trust and understanding that God intends to bring these Christians back together in local churches, is what this book of Acts is full of.…The New Testament shows the Great Commission being fulfilled by church planting.”
Question 5: What does that mean for us? “Here are eight practical exhortations and implications aimed at pastors of churches:”
- Focus your mission efforts on church planting.
- Consider who you are sending out.
- Consider what you have trained them to do.
- Consider how you are going to support them.
- Build into your church culture a desire to see the kingdom of God expand in your area and beyond.
- Encourage other evangelical church planters around you.
- Consider reclaiming existing churches.
- Pray for the spread of healthy churches.
Here are five things I want to build into the culture of our church:
- Personal evangelism
- A desire to strengthen other churches broadly
- A desire to encourage gospel growth in my own area
Question 6: What is our goal in fulfilling the Great Commission? “The glory of God in the church.”
Conclusion: “The local church is where the authority of Christ is exercised. The local church is where disciples are made and baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The local church is where Christians are taught to obey everything Jesus commanded us. To this end, Christ promised us his Spirit until he returns. And so we see that church planting is the normal business of the local church. The Great Commission is normally fulfilled through church planting.”
There’s a group of 15 believers in a remote village in south central Burma (or Myanmar) somewhere near the Irrawaddy Delta, who are quickly becoming some of my spiritual heroes. Unlike me, these men and women are consistently facing opposition as they seek to plant a gospel-centered church. Opposition for me is the weird look I occasionally get when mentioning I’m a pastor.
But listen to how my friend David describes this group of people:
Our church plant continues to meet on a regular basis, but with significant pressure from both local and religious leaders. At first, we had informal gatherings, but when [the authorities] see a pattern of our folks worshipping on Sunday morning and that our church planter is going from house to house, they accuse us of “changing their religion” and “creating problems” in their village. But the believers have all agreed and confess boldly that they have been changed by Jesus…
Western Christianity is much different than this; stories like this can sometimes be difficult to connect with. But there’s more. The cloud of oppression for this small group of believers changes their actual meetings. During worship, they sing softly. When they’re taking requests before their Heavenly Father, it’s barely above a whisper. Why? They don’t want to draw unnecessary attention resulting in targeted persecution. They live out a Christianity where that possibility is never far from their minds. The pastor of this small church spends each week encouraging these believers to hold fast in their faith. The current study diet: “to be strong in the Lord.”
That’s serious stuff. When we talk about church-planting difficulties in the States, we rarely see seminars on how to avoid arrest or suffer persecution for God’s glory. And yet, when you interact with David and this church, you find a group of people who are less aware of suffering than they are of the Savior. I want to be like that.
In Sovereign Grace, we’re thinking a lot about people like this group in south central Burma. We’re also thinking a lot about the 41% of the world’s population that still exists unreached by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we need your help.
David is a pastor from Burma who graduated from our Pastors College. He’s got serious game when it comes to planting churches and a real heart to see the gospel preached in his home country. In fact, he is responsible for leading and directing a well-known church planting center, as well as a portion of the teaching. The guy never stops! Currently, David is looking to plant another church near the Irrawaddy Delta in a village largely unengaged and unreached by the gospel. As an inroad, he’s starting a preschool there. It’s crazy stuff, but we’re excited to partner with David to make it happen.
But there’s even more. We continue to look at other areas of the world where unreached people groups exist. We’re considering involvement with unreached Muslims in an African nation. We’re supporting translations work and other ministries that work on the front lines. There are also men related to these ventures that we’re considering for the Pastors College.
These are all exciting updates that appear to change on an almost daily basis. And each day, we’re reminded that what we need more than anything are your prayers. As you read this, a few Sovereign Grace pastors are visiting this small church in south central Burma to encourage the believers in their faith. Pray that God would use these men in mighty ways. Pray that more would be converted in this small village. Please pray for David. Pray that God would soften the hearts of those unengaged among the Karen people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray for the selection of leaders for these churches. Pray that the gospel would go forth and many would be saved to the glory of God. Pray that we would play our part in Sovereign Grace Ministries and that every dollar spent would be multiplied so that God’s kingdom would expand.
May God bless the advancement of the gospel in Burma, North Africa, India, and among the unreached people groups beyond our borders!
leads international expansion and church planting for Sovereign Grace
Ministries and is based in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. For more
information about the Sovereign Grace church-planting process, click here.
It’s not every day you meet a seminary president who blends a scholar’s mind with a missionary heart and a love of sports. And somewhere between leading Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
(Wake Forest, NC), writing books, traveling the world to preach the gospel, training the next generation of pastors and missionaries, and watching ESPN, my friend Danny Akin took a few moments for an interview.
Thank you for your time, Danny. Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
People who know me know that I am not a morning person! In fact I think a good morning starts around 9:00. However, I normally get up around 6:45–7:00. My morning devotion is very brief but it fits who I am. I will pray to the Lord three specific texts of Scripture: Romans 12:1-2, Galatians 2:20 and Philippians 1:21. I ask the Lord that these Scriptures in particular would guide my thoughts and actions throughout the day. Further, I am wired in such a way that in the morning I engage the Lord in normal conversation as I am preparing to leave the house and go to whatever responsibility I may have. So there is conversation taking place over about an hour’s period of time. Some days that conversation is far more intense. I do not have a particular book that I am reading for morning devotion other than the Bible. I readily confess this is not an area of strength for me as I see things. It is an area of perpetual struggle.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
Currently I am reading several books as is usually the case. I have been reading a biography on the wonderful missionary Henry Martyn. Nothing has fed my soul like missionary biography. I am also reading the newest book by Tim Keller entitled Counterfeit Gods
, as well as a book on the wonderful Baptist preacher and theologian John Broadus. I am almost always reading a book on 1) missionary biography and 2) theology and 3) biblical studies. I have just finished reading Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence’s superb book on penal substitution and Mark Driscoll’s forthcoming book on doctrine. Both books were food for the soul as well as theologically informative. These are the kind of things that I read.
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
I have reread many times Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live
. It radically transformed my way of thinking about the Christian life when I was a Bible college student, and I continually return to it for great encouragement to my soul and mind. I also have read repeatedly The Anabaptist Story
by William Estep. These faithful brothers whose lives were cut short have always been a challenge and encouragement to me so I have returned to this work on a number of occasions. Perhaps no book has been more of a blessing to me than To The Golden Shore
, the biography of Adoniram Judson. Each time I have read the book my soul has been lifted and my heart convicted with respect to my pathetic service to our Lord Jesus. Judson and his three wives are real heroes of the faith. My admiration for them cannot be put into words.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
I mark every book that I read with both a highlighter and a pen. Then when I reread it, I am able to move through it more quickly, though sometimes I see new things the second time through that I missed the first time! I do not have any detailed system of referencing a particular book. Usually, I am able to recall what is there and go back to it. If it is something I deem especially significant, I will make a copy of that particular page and file it. I always reference any item so that I know the source. This is very important with respect to sermon notes. Of course, the books that I have forgotten, I have forgotten!
If you could study under any theologian in church history (excluding those men in Scripture), who would it be and why?
That is a very good question. I would love to have studied under Calvin but lived next door to Luther! I think Calvin would have been such a great blessing to my mind as well as my soul, while Luther would have kept me balanced and laughing! I would love to have sat under Augustine. What an incredibly brilliant mind. And of course, I would have benefited greatly to have studied with Jonathan Edwards or the Princeton theologians like Hodge, Warfield and Machen. I would also love to have studied under James Boyce and John Broadus. The fact is each of these men has greatly impacted my life through their writings. What an incredible privilege it would have been to actually have conversed with them and sat under their instruction in person. Perhaps in heaven, something like that will take place.
What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?
I would say that being open to critique and criticism is the most important counsel I have received and could pass on. I am often fond of saying in my preaching classes, “What you say is more important than how you say it, but how you say it has never been more important.” What we say, the content exposition and theology of Scripture, must be of first importance. However, in the age in which we live, how we say it is crucially important. I believe it is a sin to make the Word of God boring. Therefore, we should both have something to say and we should say it well.
What books on preaching, or examples of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
Let me answer this question in this way. I believe good preachers listen to and read great preachers. My own personal approach to preaching has been greatly influenced by both the preaching and the writings of men like John MacArthur, Bryan Chappell, Ramesh Richard, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson, John Piper, Alistair Begg, and Steven Olford. Their books, other writings and preaching have greatly shaped and influenced my own approach to the assignment of biblical proclamation. Each of these men has contributed significantly to my life in that regard. The fact is I have more than 5,000 cassette tapes and CDs of the preaching of these men. I continually go back to them for nourishment for my soul as well as insight in how to approach the biblical text. Let me add that in recent years I have been blessed by the preaching of Matt Chandler, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, James Merritt, David Platt and Robert Smith.
To be continued in part two...
December 9, 2009 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Conferences | Missions
Video is now online of Dave Harvey’s message “The Pastor’s Mission: What Makes the Great Commission Great?”, recorded at our 2009 Pastors Conference. In this message, Dave gives an overview of our missiology and how we seek to apply it in the U.S. and abroad.
Below are the video and an outline of the message (with timestamps).
The Pastor's Mission from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.
Five reasons the Great Commission is great:
1. Our commission is great because it starts with the finished work of Jesus Christ
2. Our commission is great because it extends to the church
3. Our commission is great because Christ provides the strategy:
Strategy 1: Planting local churches [20:15]
Strategy 2: Sending apostolic ministry [26:08]
“Does Sovereign Grace Ministries want to play a part in reaching unreached people groups?” [31:48]
Three lessons learned from our international ministry experiences: [32:46]
Lesson 1: The strategy of relocating westerners to non-western countries seems to have more weaknesses than strengths. [33:18]
Lesson 2: The strategy of investing in indigenous leaders seems to be working. [35:00]
Lesson 3: The Pastors College strategy seems to be working for expansion. [37:25]
4. Our commission is great because we can all participate
5. Our commission is great because it comes with the promise of God’s enduring presence
Hearing updates from various pastors was a personal highlight at our recent Pastors Conference. Over the next few days I will have the privilege to share these testimonies with you.
Among these men was Wolfgang Wegert, senior pastor of Arche Church in Hamburg, Germany. In his update, Wolfgang highlighted a recent trip by Dave Harvey, Jeff Purswell, and Pete Greasley to Hamburg as Sovereign Grace considers how to best serve the Arche Church and the region of central Europe.
But I was unprepared for the concluding words of Wolfgang’s update. The concluding words are the words of a humble man. And his update left me humbled and deeply affected.
With his son Christian providing translation, you can listen to Wolfgang’s complete ten-minute update here:
Download MP3 (2.4 MB)
Related post: For more information about Wolfgang Wegert and the church in Germany, see this video, part of the 2008 Sovereign Grace Mission Presentation.
Each year, Sovereign Grace Ministries presents a short documentary highlighting a few of the activities in our family of churches. This year, we produced three shorter films to highlight our Pastors College, our ministry among international churches, and our church-planting activities in the United States.
Our second documentary in the 2008 Mission Presentation features Covenant Life Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was planted by two Pastors College students five years ago and is now planting another church in Addis. View the film here.
Each year, Sovereign Grace Ministries presents a short documentary highlighting a few of the activities in our family of churches. This Mission Presentation is usually made in Sovereign Grace churches over various Sundays in October. This year, we produced three shorter films to highlight each of our funding categories—our Pastors College, our ministry among international churches, and our church-planting activities in the United States.
This year’s Pastors College documentary features the Arche Church in Hamburg, Germany, which sent Christian Wegert to be part of the 2007–2008 Pastors College class.
The international documentary features Covenant Life Church of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was planted by two Pastors College students five years ago and is now planting another church in Addis.
The final video is an interview with C.J. Mahaney by Joshua Harris, which addresses some of the structural changes Sovereign Grace Ministries has made to position our ministry for growth in domestic church-planting.
Watch a trailer of the three 2008 Mission Presentation videos
Related: Previous Mission Presentations can be viewed at www.missionvideos.org.
Since last summer Sovereign Grace Ministries has been involved in the launch of Gospel Translations, an initiative that exists to make gospel-centered resources more accessible in the non-English-speaking world. Since launching last September, Gospel Translations has enrolled nearly 300 volunteers, the fruit of which has been more than 230 translations of materials from Sovereign Grace, Desiring God, Ligonier, 9Marks, and others. These translations are posted online and made available to anyone for free.
The following video, originally shown at Together for the Gospel 2008 in Louisville, explains more about how the project works. If you’re interested in helping in any capacity—translation, web development, or general administration—you can sign up at the Gospel Translations website. But even if you can’t give time to it, please join us in praying that God would use this project to spread his gospel among the nations.
***Update: New sites launched in 40 languages***
Gospel Translations now hosts sites in each of the languages for which it has resources. We've listed some of the major ones below, but you can find more on their site.
Dutch: Bijbelse Boeken en Preken
French: Livres et Prédications Bibliques
German: Biblische Bücher und Predigten
Italian: Libri e Sermoni Biblici
Portuguese: Livros e Sermões Bíblicos
Russian: Библейские книги и проповеди
Spanish: Libros y Sermones Bíblicos
You can see which Sovereign Grace materials are available in other languages by visiting our translations page.