Acts gives us a lot of great examples of church planting. Here’s a simple church planting strategy from Acts 17:1-9:
1. Move into the city (v. 1) – Thessalonica was capital of Macedonia, the most populated city of the region. Paul’s whole strategy was to go to cities. There are at least 25 examples of ministry to the city in the Bible. Every place with people is important, but we need city churches. That is where the majority of the people are, and where people are moving all the time.
2. Connect with people on their turf (v. 2) – Paul began in the synagogue. He went to where the people are. Although Acts mentions three Sabbaths, we know from 1 Thessalonians that he spent longer there after his synagogue ministry was over. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Go to where they already are.
3. Focus on Jesus (v. 3) – Paul reasoned, explained, proved, persuaded. He focused on the Scriptures. His great subject was Christ. We have nothing of value to offer except for Him.
4. Build a church with those who believe (v. 4) – Those who were persuaded became the nucleus of the church. Church planting is not just gathering existing believers; it’s building a church through evangelism.
5. Partner with other churches (Phil. 4:16) – Paul received financial support from other churches. He writes, “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (Philippians 4:16). Paul even argues that his reception of their gifts is for their benefit (Philippians 4:17). Financial partnership in the planting of churches benefits both the giver and the church plant.
The result (vv. 5-9): Persecution, but also a church that is part of turning the world upside-down. The kingship of Jesus has a world-changing effect. Church planting is about more than starting a new church. It’s about taking a world that’s been turned upside-down by sin, and setting it right again.
May God raise up people who follow Paul’s church planting strategy, and are part of turning the world upside-down.