Planting churches

I want to thank my friend, Kenneth Ralph, for sending me a quote that is included in this note. He said the quote reminded him of Vision. So read and see how it might work for you!

We, as a Church, dear friends, have enjoyed singular prosperity. While many Churches have been depressed and decreased in numbers, we have increased. While other Churches have had the hectic flush of a spurious revival, we have had one perpetual revival, lasting for nearly twelve years. I do not know that we have increased at a more or a less rapid rate; we could not increase more quickly, for we have not officers enough, or time enough to see the converts as it is; we have never, I think, increased less, for the work seems to have ever the same prosperity about it.

I praise God that I can say of my ministry in this place and elsewhere, that to this day it hath the dew of its youth upon it, and there are as many rejoicing to find Christ through the agencies employed in this Church to-day as in the first day when we came among you in the freshness and vigour of our youth. We have had no schism; we have had no division; we have not been vexed with heresy. We have been blessed with something like persecution, but this has only bound us the faster to one another, till we are like a three-fold cord which cannot be broken, and like iron bars made red hot in the furnace and hammered together, we are not soon to be sundered from one another.

Now, dear friends, up to this time the policy which we have pursued has been this: if members of other Churches want to know, we hereby tell them, we have endeavoured to water others. Your minister has journeyed all over the three kingdoms preaching the Word, and you have not grumbled at his absence. We have undertaken many enterprises for Christ; we hope to undertake a great many more. We have never husbanded our strength; we have undertaken enterprises that were enough to exhaust us, to which we became accustomed in due season, and then we have gone on to something more. We have never sought to hinder the uprising of other Churches from our midst or in our neighbourhood.

The quote that Kenneth sent me

It is with cheerfulness that we dismiss our twelves, our twenties, our fifties, to form other Churches. We encourage our members to leave us to found other Churches; nay, we seek to persuade them to do it. We ask them to scatter throughout the land, to become the goodly seed which God shall bless. I believe that so long as we do this, we shall prosper. I have marked other Churches that have adopted the other way, and they have not succeeded.

This is what I have heard from some ministers: “I do not encourage village stations; or, if I do, I do not encourage their becoming distinct Churches and breaking bread together. I do not encourage too many young men going out to preach, for to have a knot of people who can preach a little, may very soon cause dissatisfaction with my own preaching.” I have marked those who have followed this course, and I have seen that the effect of trying to keep all the blood in the heart is to bring on congestion, and very soon the whole body has been out of health.

My brethren, if you can do more good elsewhere than you can do here, for God’s sake, go, and happy shall I be that you have gone. If you can serve my Master in the little rooms in the neighbourhood, if by forming yourselves into smaller Churches you can increase the honour of my Master’s name, I shall love you none the less for going, but I shall delight to think that you have Christ’s spirit in you, and can do and dare for his name’s sake. At the present moment, we rejoice to know that many a Sunday School in this neighbourhood is indebted to the members of this Church for teachers.

It is right. We do not want you at home, and are therefore glad to see you at work elsewhere. No matter, so long as Christ is preached, whether you throw your strength into that Church or into this Church. Here, as being members with us, we have the first claim upon you; but when we do not need you by reason of our abundance of men, go and give your strength to any other part of Christ’s Church that may desire you.

C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 11 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1865), 237–238.

19 comments

  1. “My brethren, if you can do more good elsewhere than you can do here, for God’s sake, go, and happy shall I be that you have gone.” Definitely the attitude we should have. Thanks for this post.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the quote that Kenneth sent concerning churches planting churches: “I believe that so long as we do this, we shall prosper. I have marked other Churches that have adopted the other way, and they have not succeeded.” It is interesting that he found his ministry to prosper, not when he was concerned with maintaining numbers in his congregation, but sending members to new area to advance the kingdom of Christ!

  3. This is some good stuff Pastor Gardner. I learned that no matter which church your at that our goal is the same as “long as Christ is preached”. So How could a member at one church get involved with another church?

    1. Not sure I get the question, Andrew. Join and get in. Get in all the ministries you can. Ask everyone what you can do to help. Find a spot to work and get with it. People are always looking for help so if you help you will find plenty of places to serve.

  4. I was blessed to grow up in a church that has always wanted to send out missionaries even if it means numbers in the church going down and I am blessed once again to be apart of another church that does the same things and more!

  5. I like that it says as Christ is preached you throw your strength into the Church. It makes you think about how that God is always working in the Church.

    1. It is natural to want to keep all of your people, to build a large and great church. It is hard to lose your best. It is our nature to be selfish, sluggish, and grow fat and lazy. So we need to work at keeping an attitude of giving. We will always want more. We all want to send out when our church gets to the point that we feel we can be happy with it. That point will almost never be reached.

      How many people do I need in my church? Just a few more!

  6. “I have seen that the effect of trying to keep all the blood in the heart is to bring on congestion, and very soon the whole body has been out of health.” This is so true. Often as a church and as individuals we somehow think that an inward focus will help our ministry grow, where the reality is that it won`t

  7. “While other Churches have had the hectic flush of a spurious revival, we have had one perpetual revival, lasting for nearly twelve years.” Would you say that the continual revival and growth was due to the church consistently sending people out making a way for new people to get involved in the church?

  8. Planting “goodly seed”. Amen. Early settlers traveled west to claim land, clear the tress, till the ground, and plant the seed. New ground. Unplanted. One pastor ask me was I “guilted” into missions. How can I respond to (quacky) questions like that and still get support. If they don’t see the value of the “goodly seed” they will never get past the obstacles of the land.

    1. I would say that I was convicted by the Holy Spirit and the Scripture. That I do see the need to get the gospel. That I do feel pressure like Paul felt in Romans 9:1-4 and Romans 10:1-4. But that what I feel comes from the Lord and no man guilted me. I would say that I am a bigger man than to have a man guilt me but I did respond to the Holy Spirit dealing with me and fell that all should.

  9. There is that scatters and yet increases. God was unselfish in sending his very best out, in His son. Like most things He has given us a great example to follow. Great thoughts here.

  10. THis was a huge encouragement to serve more and more at the church and train harder. I desire somuch to be used of God, I have so much training to do and discipline. I love visions attitude in sending men to work on foreign fields to reach them with the gospel. I want to join vision.

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