Forming a church, sometimes called church planting, can seem like a very complex and difficult process. This article presents a simple and visual process that you can take your group through to become a church.
You have probably figured out that a church is much more than a building. It is a group of believers in Jesus Christ who regularly meet together to worship God. But is there anything more that differentiates a group of believers from a church? The answer to that is yes. The Bible goes into much greater depth with positions and order, but in this article you will learn how to go from a group of believers to a church.
Basic Steps to Take to Form a Church
- Take the group through a study on what a church is. (below)
- Define what it means to be a church.
- Use the Church Circle (picture below), and as a group determine what is missing from your group to be a church.
Remember that the goal is to plant a church that can multiply other churches. This means keeping these steps simple and aiming for more churches rather than a larger church. House churches (such as were the norm for the first 300 years of Christianity) have the advantage of reproducing/multiplying at a greater rate than larger churches, and keeping them small allows for greater accountability and health for the church.
Remember that the goal is to plant a church that can multiply other churches
Step 1: Group Bible Study on “What a church is”
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what are we to do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on urging them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all the believers were together and had all things in common; and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Things to take note of in the passage above:
- a group of baptized believers
- Studying and obeying the Scripture (apostles’ teaching)
- The Lord’s Supper or Communion (breaking of the bread)
- Fellowship which is loving care for one another
- Giving offerings to meet needs and minister to others
- Praising God
- Sharing the gospel (multiplication)
One thing not mentioned in this text is leaders in the church. This happens as the church develops, where leaders are appointed according to scripture (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4, 1 Timothy 3:1-13) and exercise mutual accountability, including church discipline.
Step 2: From the Study Above Define “What a church is”
Take time as a group to define what a church is from what you read in scripture.
Step 3: Use the Church Circle
Now that everyone in the group has a solid definition from scripture about what a church is, it is time to discover where you are as a group with each element found in the passage above.
First, get a piece of paper and in the middle draw each element that the group is regularly practicing. If the group is not practicing it regularly, draw the element near the edges of the paper. Use the complete drawing below as a guide.
|Repentance – curved arrow
|Baptism – water
|Word – book
|Lord’s Supper or Communion – a loaf of bread
|Fellowship – heart
|Giving & Ministry – money sign
|Prayer – person kneeling
|Praise – person with upraised hands
|Evangelism – multiplication map
|Leaders – person with staff
|Covenant (self-identification as church) – solid-line circle
If your group only practiced fellowship, prayer, and the Word, then your drawing would look like this:
If your group practiced everything except for evangelism and leadership, then your drawing would look like this:
If your group (now clearly a church) was practicing everything, your drawing would look like this:
Once you have completed the drawing you should know if you are a church, or what you as a group need to start doing to become a church. Each person in the group should now have a clear picture of what it takes to plant a church. Now go and multiply in the name of Jesus Christ!
Bonus. Here is a graphic you can save to your phone to use when you meet with your groups.