Sent and Sending: Church Planting in The New Testament

By D.A. Horton

We are all called to live life on mission—whether locally, across our nation, or overseas. Discover the role you're called to play within the body of Christ, living out the Great Commission near or far.

Great Commission Calling

Throughout the entirety of Scripture, we see that our God is a God who desires to see people from every ethnicity, every geographic space, both genders, and every social class come into the redemptive power found in embracing Christ Jesus alone as Savior and Lord.

In Matthew 28, which we affectionately call “The Great Commission,” we receive from Jesus a robust job description that is inclusive of every one of His followers. Simply put, every believer has the same job description, and the methodology of how we, as the body of Christ on this side of eternity, have sought to fulfill the Great Commission is through the work of evangelism. Here, in alignment with God the Father, the Holy Spirit opens the hearts and ears of all who truly hear the profound truth of the finished work of Jesus Christ and what He has done on behalf of sinners.

Faith versus Doubt

When the Spirit draws these believers to Christ and they are saved, the planting of the gospel then results in the starting of new churches. Church planting is never divorced from gospel proclamation, and gospel proclamation is the entryway to disciple making. In Matthew 28:16-20, we can read and identify the empowerment Christ gives to every one of His followers to go and do the great work He has called all of His followers to do and to accomplish until He returns. Verses 16 and 17 read, “The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted.”

To “doubt” means to be hesitant. We have all experienced this feeling numerous times in our journeys with Jesus when we have stopped and become hesitant, unsure as to how we would move forward in our leaps of faith that Jesus has called us to.

With Christ’s Authority

However, Jesus addresses the doubts and hesitations His followers experienced then and also today as we seek to live on mission for Him. Listen to what He says to those who worship Him and those who doubt: “Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” In these words, we can find great comfort.

Think back to the times of grade school field trips when you needed a permission slip signed by your parents or guardian that would grant permission to the school, under the authority of your parents; it was the ability to take you to a destination and bring you back safely. Well, this, in a greater way, is Jesus giving every one of His followers a permission slip. His name—which is above all other names, the name to which every knee will bow and tongue will confess that He alone is the sovereign Lord of the universe— is that name and that power that church planters, their teams, and their families are following in obedience to the call He has placed on them to go and plant the gospel so that a church would result.

To the Sent and the Sending

This is where we come in. Although God may not call us to go to these same specific spaces of darkness in the societies throughout North America, we can go with these church planters in partnership, with intercessory prayer, and with kingdom resources to be distributed to them in the same method of alignment that we see throughout the book of Acts. Church planting, through the planting of the gospel and the support of God’s people, is the DNA that the Spirit of God has put throughout the means of the New Testament. When we step back, we can praise God as He calls other people into spaces that he Has not called us. We can be assured, as the local church, that where Jesus has assigned us to be faithful and to stay put in this church can be an extension of the support we give to planters going into the communities where they have been called.

Some of them are called into very rough communities. I would have many pastors come up to me, shake my hand, and express their gratitude for me and my family as we went into an area where Long Beach and Compton came together, saying, “I don’t know how my family would survive or even maneuver in that context, so I’m so grateful that God has called you. I affirmed that calling, but I affirm the assurance that Christ has called me to stay put, but to be an extension of support for the work that He’s called you to do.” Those comments fueled my heart with joy and removed my loneliness. It infused togetherness and made the Great Commission, through gospel proclamation and Jesus starting new churches, a visible reality where I got to see the Scriptures come to life. It was all possible through the friendship, family, love, and support from other churches. So, I pray that the Holy Spirit leads you and directs you as you are praying about seeing your support be an extension from your immediate local church and community of the Great Commission, in alignment with the New Testament, to see the gospel planted and new churches resulted.

Adapted from Church Planting in the New Testament from the Sending Church Masterclass.

Published August 30, 2023

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D.A. Horton

D.A. Horton serves as an Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Intercultural Studies program at California Baptist University. He is also blessed to serve as an Associate Teaching Pastor at The Grove Community Church. He earned his B.S. in Biblical Studies from Calvary Bible College, his Masters Degree in Christian Studies from Calvary Theological Seminary and is working on his Ph.D. in Applied Theology with a North American Missions emphasis at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored eight books; G.O.S.P.E.L., DNA: Foundations of the Faith (both by Moody Publishers); Letters of the Revelation: To the One Who Conquers, To The One Who Conquers (Youth Study); Authentic Love (all through Lifeway Publishers); and Bound to Be Free: Escaping Performance to be Captured by Grace. He was blessed to co-author Enter The Ring: Fighting Together for a Gospel Saturated Marriage with his wife Elicia (both through NavPress). On October 22, 2019 his newest book, Intensional, published through NavPress released! He and his wife, Elicia, have been married for 17 years, and they have two daughters, Izabelle and Lola and one son, D.A. Jr. (aka Duce).