In recent months we’ve experienced a burst of growth in Joshua Generation Church. We have planted both JoshGen Congregations and JoshGen Outreach Congregations.
When we examine the Bible, we see how God used ordinary people to advance His Kingdom. As Joshua Generation Church we want to live out what we see modelled to us in the Bible. We want to learn from the early church fathers who walked with Jesus and built the early church. The way they built church turned the world upside down and brought about radical transformation globally. We believe that if we follow the Lord today as they did, imitating their faith and building our lives and beliefs upon the Bible, that we will become the church that turns our world upside down and radically advances God’s Kingdom today!
A JoshGen Congregation Plant
In Scripture, we see that the early church usually sent out a leader or team to preach the gospel and start a congregation in an area. We have the example where Paul and Barnabas were sent out of Antioch in Acts 13 by the leadership team to plant a congregation. Such leaders would be qualified and fitting the character qualifications and calling of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:6-10. Likewise today, we send out qualified and equipped leaders to plant JoshGen congregations with the full backing of the JoshGen eldership team.
JoshGen would fully fund and resource this plant, throwing our full weight behind the new congregation to help ensure that it has the maximum chance of succeeding; remembering that if only one person were to get saved from the plant we would consider it a success! We also provide financial and logistical support and send Ephesian 4 gifts to the congregation to support the leader. Furthermore, we encourage some people to relocate to help the leader on the ground create a core community of believers that would attract people.
Before following this route; we would need to have a full assurance that this new plant is God’s will, in God’s timing and that we have a good, qualified elder to lead the plant.
A JoshGen Outreach Congregation Plant
In this current season, we believe the Lord is leading us to reach out in a new way (for us) and we hope we can help bring about understanding to what we feel God is leading us to do with what we call an “outreach congregation”. These outreach congregations have a few key differences to a normal JoshGen congregation plant as detailed above.
In Acts 8:4 we see the early church scattered. In this scenario, persecution had broken out, which caused Christians from within the church of Jerusalem to leave the city. We find God using this migration of believers to radically accelerate the spread of the Gospel. As the Christians from Jerusalem moved into new areas in the surrounding towns and nations new congregations suddenly appeared all over the world.
Likewise today, Christians sometimes find themselves moving into new areas. Often there are no existing healthy churches, or Four12 partnering churches, with the spiritual DNA they long for. In scenarios like this, we have felt the need to imitate what we see in the Bible in the early church’s scattering. In that, where God leads, we will help these “scattered” Christians to try to start outreach congregations in the hope that in time we may see the Lord raise up healthy expressions of church wherever we find ourselves in the nations.
While this is not ideal in many ways, we recognise that even in the Bible God used this type of scenario to spread the Gospel. Likewise today, His ways are sometimes a bit wilder than ours, and we want to partner with Him to see the nations discipled.
As each of these situations and the people involved are unique, we endeavour to build on what God is saying and upon the grace given by God in each instance. We cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and must be Spirit-led. Although generally speaking, the below would likely be the norm for a JoshGen outreach congregation:
As a group of believers begin to gather together as an ‘outreach congregation’ they will have agreed to submit to the authority of JoshGen elders. They desire to live out JoshGen values and will endeavour to be open and transparent with the JoshGen elders in order to allow them to help this group of people develop as disciples and become a healthy expression of church life.
In the early church we see that the apostles and elders sent in teams of people to ensure the local congregations were healthy and growing to reflect Christ. For example:
This Biblical pattern was followed throughout the New Testament, and later, teams from Antioch would travel out to the new congregations, to strengthen them, and provide what was lacking in their faith.
Likewise today, as we build God’s way, the elders and apostles carry the authority to visit the outreach congregations and provide whatever they believe is needed for Kingdom growth. They have the authority to bring encouragement, correction, and even rebuke if needed.
In Acts 11:21–22, we read about a group of saints from Jerusalem who moved to Antioch. There were no recognised leaders among these saints, but they faithfully reached out to the city of Antioch as the Lord had commanded. We read that,
This is an ideal outreach congregation type scenario and beautifully exemplifies how we hope to build in such circumstances.
Acts 11 goes on to read;
Later Barnabas found Paul, who joined him, and they became leaders amongst this new congregation.
Who leads a JoshGen Outreach Congregation?
Sometimes the Lord might raise up a leader from within the outreach congregation, possibly even the person who starts the outreach congregation. That said, we need to be Spirit-led and find the right leader to help the outreach congregation develop into its full destiny in Christ. We aim to do this by doing our best to give them God’s choice of Biblically qualified leadership which may mean sending somebody from elsewhere to lead the congregation when appropriate.
The person who first assumes leadership of an outreach congregation may well be unqualified for eldership. They may well have character glitches, be ill-equipped or premature in their calling. The congregation will then begin without an elder (who would be properly trained and who would be qualified to lead according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1). Note that this was sometimes how it happened in the early church. In scripture we see this happening in Acts 13 and 14, where Paul and Barnabas travelled quickly through a number of towns, starting congregations with the new converts in each town. A while later;
This pattern is a model that we hope to follow as God leads us. It is possible that from within an outreach congregation, we will be able to appoint elders as the outreach congregation grows and saints develop in their faith. Otherwise, we may need to “import” leaders from one of our established congregations as the early Apostles did when they sent Barnabas to Antioch in Acts 11:22.
Another possibility is that the JoshGen outreach congregation is started by an existing elder, however, there is a conviction that this shouldn’t be treated as a JoshGen congregation, for some reason. For example, a marketplace elder (i.e. one who has a full-time job), may struggle with having enough time to make the plant a success. In this instance there could be a higher possibility of failure or difficulty. It may then be preferable to treat such a congregation as an outreach congregation.
An existing JoshGen elder may start an outreach congregation, however, he may not yet carry our full endorsement to lead a congregation, in that to actually lead a congregation takes a different skillset and grace to what is needed to be a part of a team. There may need to be a period of testing, training and development before he develops the skillset needed to effectively lead the outreach congregation forward. It could be that he may never be called to lead a congregation, in which case we would need to raise up another elder, over time, to fulfil the lead role.
The eldership team may feel that the elder starting the outreach congregation is thrust into leading a bit prematurely or that the circumstances do not represent an ideal scenario. However, the Lord may be doing something or sending someone to start the congregation; in which case we must be willing to obey, even if this is to see only one person saved!
Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus
Jesus would leave the ninety-nine to find the one and we believe the Lord would have come to die on the cross even if only to save one! We would plant an outreach congregation to even see one person saved. We do hope, however, for each of these congregations to develop in time into established JoshGen congregations in keeping with Matthew 28; making disciples of nations.