Lessons in Church Planting – Bible Exposition
Expositional preaching might be a new concept for you. This is preaching which seeks to read out of the Biblical text what it actually says rather than reading into it one’s own preconceived notions. Expounding a text is explaining it in light of its historical context, of its grammatical context, and even of its cultural context by delving into the actual content of that passage. The Bible expositor seeks to answer questions such as, ‘What does this Bible passage actually say?’ ‘What does it mean by what it says?’ In addition exposition is not complete without application so the expositor seeks to answer the question, ‘How does the meaning of this Bible passage affect my conduct?’ Really all preaching should seek to be expositional if we are going to handle the Scriptures correctly and let the Word of God direct both what we believe and how we behave.
Earlier we suggested working through Mark’s Gospel as a good place to start, but it may be that you have never preached a series of messages before and the thought of having to work through sixteen chapters may seem too difficult. With that in mind, it might be good to start with a much shorter Bible book. One of those would be Paul’s letter to Philemon. It has only twenty five verses and is one of the shortest letters in the New Testament. In it you have the wonderful story of how a runaway slave named Onesimus came to know the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of Paul during one of his imprisonments, and how after becoming a believer in Christ Paul helped him to know what he ought to do next. Paul told him he needed to return to Colossae and to his master, Philemon. At the same time he sent this letter with him so that he could plead with Philemon to receive him, not as he would a returning slave but as he would a returning brother in Christ. It is a wonderful story of how the Lord Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and man, enables us to be received by his heavenly Father. Because of the simplicity of its content almost anyone called to preach could take the book of Philemon and over a couple of meetings give their people a wonderful picture of the Gospel and also a wonderful example of some of the practical changes that salvation brings to our lives and to our relationships with others. It shows us how we sort out various wrong things from our past with the Lord’s help. Philemon lived in Colossae and Paul wrote another letter to the church that met at Philemon’s house and that is another short book, so you could move in to studying Colossians which deals with the preeminence of Christ.
Sometimes we can address topics, but when we do we ought to do so expositionally. We ought to take a text that deals with that topic and expound it. In the church planting situation this verse by verse consecutive ministry through books of the Bible will lay a good foundation for the pastor who will be coming along to nurture the new Church. When you are planting a church in an area, one of your first converts in that area may at some point in the future become the pastor of that church. If we look at the biblical precedence, we do not see any church outside of the church at Jerusalem that is planted with an established leadership in place. There is none, and so it is after that work has been established, leaders begin to emerge from within that group. If you as a church planter have been modelling verse by verse, consecutive ministry through the Scriptures, this pastor in waiting is going to be taking all of this in and he will have that same commitment and that same approach when it is time for him to take the reins of pastoral leadership in the church.