By Nick Colton
TAMPA – I recently had the privilege to serve with a talented team working to rapidly advance Jesus’ mission in South Asia. Their strategy equips national believers using a simple and reproducible church-planting strategy called The Four Fields of Church Planting. The Four Fields provides national believers with a process for making disciples through the formation of new churches.
The reports of new churches in villages and cities across their regions continue to inspire me. Those receiving this training consistently share stories of church multiplication. In addition to church multiplication, these leaders prioritize church health. They clearly understand the importance of having healthy churches to sustain an effective church-planting movement. They work to develop health by applying The Seven Commands of Christ. These commands make up a reliable summary of Jesus’ instructions to His church.
Like all biblical principles, these commands apply to all churches in every time period and in every culture. They provide a measurement for church health and will affect a church’s ability to make disciples. Churches neglecting these practices will struggle to develop faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Those committed to these practices will more effectively produce disciples, who will then make more disciples.
THE SEVEN COMMANDS OF CHRIST FOLLOWED IN ACTS 2:37-47
Teach and practice repentance: To gain God’s acceptance we must change our minds about Jesus and how we relate to Him. Repentance involves a commitment to live God’s way instead of our way (Acts 2:38, Mark 1:15).
Baptize new Christ-followers: This first act of obedience compels churches to help new Christ-followers experience baptism by immersion. This includes setting an expectation for everyone to have their baptism on the right side of their salvation (Acts 2:41, Matt. 28:18-20).
Love for each other: This health point impacts the way people express their love for each other. Healthy faith families express love by meeting together for worship, sharing meals and ministry activities, and through members caring for each other in practical ways. This kind of fellowship should serve to advance the gospel (Acts 2:42, Matt. 22:34-40).
The Lord’s Supper: The Lord’s Supper helps keep Jesus central in the life of the church. This time set aside to remember Jesus’ death provides an opportunity for reflection, repentance, restoration, and the reconciliation of damaged relationships (Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
Pray: The vitality of a church depends on the members’ commitment to pray privately and corporately (Acts 2:42, John 16:24).
Give: Christ-followers should give generously in light of the generous gift God has given us in Jesus Christ. This includes giving money, time, gifts, and talents for the benefit of others and to advance Jesus’ mission “to seek and save the lost” (Acts 2:45, Luke 6:38).
Go and make disciples: When describing discipleship Greg Ogden said, “Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples in order to encourage, equip, and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. This includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well.” Explaining God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ remains another key element of making disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47, Matt. 28:18-20).
Bible Study: Learning to accurately study the Scriptures will help all Christ-followers better understand the seven commands practiced by the first New Testament church. Having members committed to studying the Bible and applying what they learn to their daily lives will also benefit the church family as a whole (Acts 2:42, 2 Timothy 3:16).
Nick Colton is Pastor of Grow Ministries
at First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace
in Tampa Bay, Florida.
(813) 988-1138 | Nick@fbctt.org