What attributes of church planting can be found in the different aspects of God? Given the fact that God himself is infinite, it is difficult to narrow such a list down. However, Dr. Dodson has listed four aspects about God that give mankind a theo-centric rationale for church planting: 1) God seeks 2) God saves 3) God synthesizes 4) God sends.*
There are a number of verses that capture the idea of God seeking mankind, but 2 Chronicles 16:9 captures it beautifully: “For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His,”(HCSB). Immediately following the Fall, God seeks to restore Adam and Eve by removing them from the Garden and killing an animal to cover their sin. This theme of seeking can be traced from the Garden to the Exodus, to exile, and all the way to Jesus. John 4:24 says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him,” (ESV). The church goes into the nations and plants churches because Christ is seeking His people to gather and worship Him.
God is not gathering His people without making provision for their biggest problem. God is seeking people, and is saving people. In the Old Testament David highlights this attribute of Yahweh, “Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death,” (ESV). God in himself is a God of salvation. We can plant churches and share the gospel boldly knowing the Father’s great desire for mankind to worship Him, and to impart salvation to mankind.
While God called a people to Himself in Israel as shown in the Old Testament, the book of Acts shows something significant about the gospel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the gospel begins to jump ethnic barriers to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission. In Acts 10 Peter receives revelation from the Lord that what God has made clean man should not call unclean; meaning, salvation through Christ was meant for the Gentiles also! Paul’s epistles outline his ministry to the Gentiles. A common theme in these letters is the push-back the church was getting in becoming a blended, synthesized family. Reread the Pauline epistles, and look at Paul’s passion for unity in the Bride of Christ across ethnic lines.
God seeks, He saves, He synthesizes us into a new family, and then He sends us to repeat the process. Every church planter is familiar with the Great Commission, and God’s heart for the nations. My hope is that we observe an even deeper connection between God’s character and church planting. Yes, God sends, but he also seeks, saves, and synthesizes the church to rightly display His image and glory in the world.
*These categories are adapted from the personal notes of Dr. Mike Dodson.