JohnSWilson3 Blog

We need true church planters

These are my comments to my brother Alan Knox’s blog: “The Apostles Were Apostles.” You can his blog here:

His last paragraph from his blog states his conclusion:
“The apostles were apostles, but there were other apostles who were not counted among the Twelve. From the very early days after the death of the Twelve, Christians have argued about the continuing existence of apostles. The Twelve no longer exist. But, there is no reason to assume that there are no apostles today. In fact, Scripture seems to indicate that the church continues to need apostles just as we continue to need all gifted believers.”

Here are my comments, with some editing:

I know from institutional Christianity they make the case that the word apostle also refers to only those who saw the resurrected Lord. I think this is where you are coming from Alan.

Based on what I have read from Scripture and now from “Finding Organic Church” by Frank Viola it seems that apostle as a messenger and sent one speaks of those called out from the church to plant another church, e.g. preaching Christ to unbelievers, forming a Christian community for those who believed, and then helping them learn to live by the life of Christ. They would then leave and do the same in other towns and cities, sometimes returning to encourage the brothers to move forward in their love for Christ and one another. So our traditional words such as missionary and church planter all speak of being modern day apostles. You can read more about Frank Viola’s “Finding Organic Church” at

The problem are those false apostles who have taken the word as a title and position over the church to the detriment and spiritual demise of the church, replacing themselves as head of the church instead of Jesus Christ. The reason I guess why many denominations no longer use the word and to throw the word out doctrinally by stating apostles were only those who had seen the resurrected Christ. At least from my perspective it appears that way.

I have also seen how institutional that “missionary” work has become. Missionaries are often seen as step children to a church pastor to help build the pastor’s flock, instead of forming new churches under the headship of Jesus Christ. I believe a true missionary is a church planter in every sense of the word. They are fulfilling the Great Commission by preaching the gospel to the lost, forming communities of those who believe the message, and helping them live by Christ’s life under His headship.

I have also seen the confused understanding of the Great Commission where many advocate that every believer is supposed to be out making disciples, etc which has brought many people into a work they were never called to do. Making disciples is a corporate experience in the body of Christ, each living under Christ’s lordship and all living under His headship. That’s where making disciples happen, it is not a system of training or a step by step process advocated by most discipleship programs. I know, I did many discipleship programs and was a discipleship director! This does not mean that individually we do not do anything, on the contrary! We are all called to manifest the life of Christ in loving relationships to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. because of learning Christ together in our gatherings. This may be getting off topic but the quality of the foundation of a church plant, living by Christ’s life, will determine the life of that church, how they manifest His life to one another and to the world. That’s what Christ is after! Amen!

We need true church planters, who have lived by Christ’s life in an organic way and can help others do the same, then when God calls them, go and plant churches of quality that can live by His life, listen to Him, who is head of the church, and follow Him. “Finding Organic Church” by Frank Viola I think is a pivotal work that every follower of Christ, if God is calling them to this kind of work, church planting, a work full of hurt and joy, should read.


7 Comments so far
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Excellent commentary. I do think, however that Making Disciples IS every believers responsibility. The Making of Disciples is a requirement of a disciple that is being made within the command to make disciples. There is no way to escape it. That being said, we all contribute (based on our giftings) to the making of disciples corporately, but that does not relieve anyones individual responsibility to make disciples.

Comment by Miguel

Hi Miguel,
thanks for the comment! I agree and disagree. Can I do that? LOL.

I agree that every disciple has a responsibility to function and manifest Christ in the gatherings of the brethren and to manifest Christ with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

What I disagree with is that too often, and perhaps more times than naught, individual discipleship tends to be more or less a system and program instead of learning to relate to one another by the life of Christ. Too often we make discipleship a list of things to do, accountability questions to ask one another, etc instead of learning Christ together in loving relationships, learning to listen to Him by His Spirit and follow His directions. Helping each other to discern Christ in the midst of our lives and to live by His life.

So in a sense this is disciplemaking by every believer and corporately by the body, whether this is first learned in the gathering or when a couple brothers or sisters get together it is based on functioning under Christ’s lordship personally and Christ’s headship corporately.

I think this makes sense…LOL.

Comment by John Wilson

On this topic our words must be chosen with care. Even if “to often, and perhaps more times than naught, individual discipleship tends to be more or less a system and program instead of learning to relate to one another by the life of Christ,” is true, we can not negate the Great Commission for every believer simply be cause “to often it turns out to be something other than what it should be.

I hate to say it, but what you have done in your response is create a straw-man argument. You have disagreed with the actions of those taken in response to the great commission and not fully and logically replied to the idea of whether or not the great commission is for every believer.

There is an inescapable logic in the command itself. “Teaching then to obey all that I have commanded,” includes the main command itself – to make disciples. Any disciple made will not only make other disciples if they are obeying the command, but they will teach, baptize, and go in the process.

Comment by Miguel

Hi brother,
I appreciate your comments. You are very articulate! I am probably being misunderstood, but that is part of being a follower of Jesus.

When Jesus made His disciples the context was in community. When the apostles planted churches disciples were made in the context of community. The letters written to the churches describe how to help each other lived by Christ’s life and follow His directions in community. This expression of Christ’s life for every believer was learned as they gathered together.

While at one time I could give you a step by step method for making a disciple I am unwilling to do that now. It is becoming clearer to me that too often we use human traditions and philosophies to create systems of individualized discipleship methods in making disciples, and in institutional Christianity it is more guilt based and works based than living in the grace and freedom of Jesus Christ. This is a general statement because every institutional church is different, just like every organic church I’m sure expresses Christ in a different way in community.

Is the great commission for every believer? According to the context of the verses, Jesus gave it to 11 men, apostles, the sent ones. And as each church grew in Christ in an organic way the Spirit will call those He would send to start other churches in other places. We have too much guilt placed on followers of Christ to say they must make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching everything that Christ commanded. That is an overwhelming task, it was not meant for individual believers. It is a commission for the body of Christ in its gathering together. Can a follower of Christ baptize someone they shared Christ with who received Him as Lord, absolutely! Can a follower of Christ teach someone something of Christ, absolutely! But the fullness of Christ is only learned when the church is gathered and expressing Christ through her various gifts in love. If you have the heart of an apostle, a church planter, and you have learned Christ in community then God bless you brother, but do not let your function be the function of the rest of the brothers and sisters. As a church planter your goal is to help the brothers and sisters learn Christ together, to love Him and to focus on Him as head, and in so doing they learn to love one another in loving authentic relationships and that love will be manifested to all they meet. Many are called, few are chosen.

I like how Milt Rodriguez’s describes it in his blog and would ask that you read his blog and the comments provided.

God bless you brother.

Comment by John Wilson

Additional comment I provided on facebook:

Let us look at all of the New Testament and see what the body of w…riting and what the Spirit of Christ tells us of the matter.

We cannot disconnect living by the loving relational organic life of Christ within the body of Christ. Please do not make a list of every command of Jesus and say we have to obey them, that is another form of legalism and leads right back into institutionalizing the church. It was my opinion that this an organic church group versus an institutional church group on facebook. Their is only one thing important in the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people: faith expressing itself in love. And Paul also states there is only one true command: love your neighbor as yourself, it fulfills all of the others. And Jesus Himself said “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We cannot use these 4 verses from Matthew and make an entire doctrine from it, we must see the entire picture of Christ from the New Testament. Not all are apostles. The word missionary is a coined term from institutional Christianity. For those who have a calling to church planting do not project your function onto every member of the body of Christ. That is bullying and lording it over others. We each have different functions by the Spirit in the body of Christ to the building up of the body in love.

“See how they love one another” that is our witness of Christ.

Comment by John Wilson

Another comment from facebook:

I was describing how loving one another was not only spoken by Paul and the other apostles but also by Jesus, that is the fruit of a life that is living by the Spirit.

I …guess the key point in the whole discussion is how are disciples made?

Do we share a list of scriptures to convert someone, use a system of accountability questions, and oversee the new convert in following the commands of Jesus? or

do we build a loving relationship with the person so that they see the love of Christ in us and the life of Christ in our gatherings, and when they are ready they receive Christ Jesus as Lord, they learn to listen to and follow Christ in the gatherings, functioning within the body of Christ and therefore learn to manifest His life to others?

The issue is how, either in a legalistic individual way or in an organic corporate way.

Comment by John Wilson

Another facebook comment LOL:

Don’t think we really understand organic church life. Helping each other live by Christ’s life in community is the commission. Brothers when talking about truly organic the emphasis is on learning life in Christ in community, beyond that it becomes individualistic and egotistical and institutional.

Comment by John Wilson

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