How do we get there? I am not talking about getting directions for your next family vacation. I am talking about doing what God has placed you on this earth to do!
How do believers become more like Jesus Christ? How do churches grow and set the world on fire with the blaze of the Gospel? How do pastors and preachers get something in their souls that will reprove, rebuke, and exhort the congregants who come to hear? How do we get to that place where Christianity is more than just one hour per week on Sunday but it begins to affect the world around us?
One church that affected the world around them was the church at Antioch. You can read of when the church was planted in Acts 11:19-20, and you can read about how the church was planting in Acts 13:1-4. I do not think it is possible to overestimate the importance of that church. Through its ministry, other churches were started all over the world, as they sent out Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries. One could even argue that the church at Antioch planted the seeds that eventually led to the Gospel coming to American shores! Literally, the whole world was impacted by the work of God in that one assembly of believers at Antioch.
I know that I have been saved. I know Christ is my Savior, and I want Him to use me to make a difference in those around me and, yes, around the world. I am not content with just being planted. I want to do some planting!
Perhaps the secret is revealed in the beginnings of the church at Antioch. There in its humble beginnings, I believe we find the answer to moving beyond planted into the work of planting.
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.Acts 11:26
The Absolute Essential
There was one essential ingredient that God used to mold this church into a planting machine. The Bible says that the people were “taught.”
What were they taught? They were taught the word of God! Bible preaching and Bible teaching was the order of the day. It filled the church at Antioch. God’s word was on stage, front-and-center. God’s word was the emphasis in that church.
The church at Antioch had a sweet fellowship of believers, and they gathered around the word of God. They heard it, meditated upon it, and prayed for God to use it to stir their lives.
What must we have if we will move from planted to planting? We must have the word of God! I ask you, are you daily feeding upon the word of God? Are you letting God speak to your heart through its pages? Are you in a Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching church where you are getting fed the meat of Scripture?
The only way to move from being planted to actually planting is through by the power of God’s word!
The Time Required
Everything that is alive must grow. It is impossible to say with precision how long that growth process takes from organism to organism. Yet, I do know that personal growth is always one of those matters that seem to be way-out-there, never quite attainable for me.
Looking at the church at Antioch, the Bible says that they were planted (Acts 11:19-20) and for “a whole year” they received strong, Bible teaching. Continue reading, and we discover that, perhaps, within another year or two they were shaking the world (Acts 13:1-4).
So, within 1 – 3 years, this church went from planted to planting!
Now, I do not suggest that 3 years is some kind of magical benchmark, but I do believe that the word of God can unleash a fire in less time than we probably think that will move us from complacency and dryness to seeing the world turned upside down for Jesus Christ.
No, you do not have to wait a lifetime to see it happen. I believe it can happen as we get under the influence of God’s word.
The Reality We Face
God has saddled His churches with the responsibility to reach the world. Let’s be honest, are we making a difference in the lives of those around us? I know that I have found myself in the trap of thinking, “It’s coming, just down the road!” The reality is that we have all we need to shake the world. We have God’s word, and He has given His saints the Holy Spirit.
If I am not reaching the world, it is because I am not personally growing in the word of God and seeking the blessings of His Spirit.
I cannot abide to sit still while the world continues to suffer in death. We must move from planted to planting!