Teaching Students about Church Planting

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The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

June 10, 2023

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

One of the classes that I am teaching this term is Church Planting. Even though I spent fifteen years in Kitale doing church planting, I still hardly feel qualified to teach this course to new ministry students. It is such an important subject for my students to study and I can only pray that I teach them properly and to do everything I can to help them understand the importance of the subject and how they should be doing it. But what I’m teaching them has been a hard sell so far. Let me see if I can explain why.

My students are studying for ministry work. They are diligently studying the Bible and what it means to work in the ministry of Jesus Christ. They are good and godly students who want to know Jesus, want to know the Bible, and want to minister the gospel in the lives of people and in the world. But they usually also come with a certain mindset. I’ll call it a Traditional mindset. They come to Bible school, many of them want to become pastors. They are thinking of becoming pastors of already established churches, of preaching the Word of God and ministering in that church, of seeing that church grow bigger, and of eventually building a bigger church to accommodate this bigger congregation.

There is nothing wrong with the above model, is there? No, there isn’t. It is the same model that most of us are familiar with and, if we are pastors, it is the model we are probably participating in. So, no, there is nothing wrong with the Traditional model. But I am trying to teach these young Bible students something a little different. I am trying to convince them to consider a slightly different model. I don’t know what to call it, so I’ll just call it the Different model. In the Different model that I’m teaching them, I’m trying to convince them to go to a location where there is NO church already present, where there may not be any Christians at all, where the gospel needs to be preached, and where a new New Testament church is actually needed. My students can usually get on board with this pretty well, after all they are godly students wanting to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. Where they start jumping off the wagon, however, is when I begin to teach the really different part of the Different model. I am trying to teach them to start churches that will reproduce themselves and start other churches and to teach them principles on how to do that. They were on board at first because, while they do want to fulfill the Great Commission, they also want to start churches that will eventually become big, have lots of people and tithes, and be able to build big church buildings and have lots of structured programs. When I began telling them that church buildings are not always conducive to churches reproducing themselves because poor communities cannot reproduce such a thing, they began jumping off board. When I began telling them that when their church becomes big enough (defined as too big to meet in their house anymore) then the church should start convincing some of its members to start a new church in another location, even more jumped off board. After all, how can their church become big if they are always sending some of their members off to start a new church somewhere else? I think their biggest issue might be, “How can I ever get enough financial support from my church if my church membership is never more than 15-25 people?” The other issue they face is the issue we all face – the mindset that “Bigger is better.” They want to pastor a big church because “Bigger is better” for a thousand and one reasons. I want them to start churches that will start churches that will start churches so that the gospel will spread, the kingdom of Christ will spread, and there will be a church presence preaching the gospel in every place in Kenya and in every place in the world. It is a hard sell, even for godly, Jesus loving Bible students at Bible college. I can see some changes in them, though. They are beginning to ask themselves the question I ask them all the time, “What is your goal?” Is your goal a big church, with a big membership, a big offering plate, a big building, and a big reputation? There is nothing wrong with that goal, my beloved students. But consider another goal – a dozen churches, spreading out over the city, preaching the gospel and reaching the lost, all with the purpose of spreading the Kingdom and starting more churches that will all be doing the same thing.

“My beloved students – What is your goal?”

Blessings to all,
Roger, Julie & Chloe


Roger & Julie Tate
Moffat Bible College
P.O. Box 70
Kijabe, Kenya 00220

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Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
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