There are more schools of thought regarding this topic than I am familiar with, and then more knowledgeable sources than myself to speak on it. But in my study I’ve observed some things that often have struck my curiosity regarding our modern practices of church planting. Even more so, how do we do it authoritatively? Some have said that we must have a sending authority or apostolic commission given from a governing/leading entity. Some call this a mission board, some call it the elders of a sending church, and some say that there is no clear cut definition.
Honestly, the only examples I’ve heard rendered are based upon traditional impositions of the texts that imply a church being planted or founded. These practices are then defended by church history and the foundations of those very same traditions.
I just ask a question, is it really necessary to ignore the fulfillment of the great commission, the result of it becoming a gathering of believers, and those believers becoming a local body? Or, do we request permission of an established body to go into a demographic, neighborhood, or community to begin making disciples? The example I’ve seen is one that’s made these observations much more interesting for me. In Colossians we see Paul indicate a greeting sent from Epaphras. The native city of Epaphrus is cited as being Colossae, and it is also implicated by the text that Epaphrus may have been saved through the ministry of Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:9-10 see also notes on Colossians, ESV Study Bible). The common link between the two is that Epaphrus would’ve took the message of Paul; the Gospel, back to Colossae. And behold, a church was born.
He was sent by the grace that was done in him, and he spoke of the things he had seen and heard. True regeneration and conversion wrought in the believer motivates preaching of the cross. Preaching of the cross falls on the ears of those whom He has drawn, they are redeemed, and they seek to know him daily in fellowship, prayer, and supplication. Granted, the Colossian church was being infiltrated with false teaching, Epaphrus had enough sense about him to seek apostolic advisement. But, he didn’t deputize, garner support, or wait for board approval to go.
The remaining question then must be asked. Who is it that builds the church, and what means are used?