Did Jesus Say, “Go and Plant Churches”?


Did Jesus tell us to go and plant churches? No. Jesus told us to go and make disciples. There is a difference. Making disciples starts with relational, face-to-face teaching and life example and stays there. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what Jesus does now. It’s what Paul did. Planting churches, however, begins with strategic planning, a structural, organizational, having-authority-over approach—and stays there. To be transparent, neither one of these methods is without problems. Jesus had difficulties as He discipled others. However, the most troublesome issue with the structural, organizational, having-authority-over approach is when it encounters Scripture and Jesus Himself. The first and most obvious one is with Jesus’s command to go and make disciples. That’s what Jesus did—face-to-face, relational ministry. I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t say, “Go and make leaders.” Or, “Go and become leaders.” As I look around the contemporary church landscape today, it seems that that is how we have interpreted Jesus’s words.

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