Missions part 2: Be A Church Planter


This post is continuing the short series on the role of the Timothy’s in frontier missions. If you even catch part of our vision, you know that we advocate for young men to wait to enter eldership until they reach the qualifications the Bible sets forth. So the next question is, “Then what am I supposed to do with my life if all I really want to do, and feel called to do, is minister the Word?” The reason for the missions series is to, hopefully, stir a passion in your heart to consider giving your life on the mission field.  Here’s why…

We are in a unique season of life. There is a tendency for people in one season to desire to be in a different season…and it is generally a desire to be older. When we are 8 we want to be 12, so we can stay up later with our parents. When we are 12 we want to be 16, so we can drive. When we are 16 we want to be in our 20’s so we can move out, get married, and start our lives. So that’s where I am. I am in my 20’s. I moved out, I got married, and I have 2 (1 in the hopper) kids. I want to be effective in ministry for the glory of God in Christ. My problem can be, that I think I have to be older to be effective in ministry, when in reality it is that I have to be older to be an effective elder.  Not every full-time ministry in the Church has the same age/experience requirements as eldership.  While elders can have very effective and influential ministries, God has a role for us younger guys to fulfill in this stage of life. We are made to be in a partnership with older men in the gospel.

At a recent board meeting, To Every Tribe Missions discussed the value of sending “Timothy’s” into the field. Timothy’s offer something that older man cannot: endurance, vigor, strength. TETM wants us because God has given us something unique and useful to His kingdom.

Look at what Timothy’s relationship was with Paul. Timothy was Paul’s delegate. He was a co-worker with Paul in the gospel. William Mounce says in Pastoral Epistles that Timothy and Titus were, “itinerate, apostolic delegates sent with Paul’s authority to deal with local problems, just as they do in Acts.” So Timothy doesn’t rely on any authority of his own but he relies on the authority given to him by Paul and foremost on the authority of the gospel. He travels around the Mediterranean sometimes with Paul and sometimes without. His is Paul’s son in the faith and everyone knows him to be this. People listen to what Timothy says because of his relationship with an older man in the gospel, Paul.

The point is this: we may not have the authority to rule over a local church, but we can have the authority, granted by God through the local church, to plant local churches. I am convinced that being a local church planter is the primary purpose of missionaries. Planting a local church is the best thing we can do for a local group of people. By planting a local church and teaching them how to live, we have established a local manifestation of the kingdom of God. From there, this new church and these new Christians are fully capable of being the body of Christ and ministering to their local community. They can deal with social injustices, care for those in need (widows and orphans), continue evangelizing to build the church, and they can disciple new converts. Then . . .  we can leave! We aren’t necessarily intended to stay.  We can help to appoint local elders to rule, as Timothy did, though we may not be in that season ourselves.

I challenge you to do the work of Timothy. Plant local churches where there are none. A local church is the best thing you can do for any people group. Don’t primarily send people to dig wells, or plant rice, or to build buildings. Send people to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Then teach new converts how they ought to live and look for aged men who love Jesus, to oversee in a way which young men cannot.


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5 Responses to “Missions part 2: Be A Church Planter”

  1. Bryce Says:

    I have often struggled with this issue. I work in a church as a “pastoral intern.” My duties include preaching once a month at our Saturday service, working alongside one of our elders who oversees the youth ministries and helping him cast a vision for where that ministry is heading. Often I question whether or not I am stepping outside of my bounds when I am pushing for certain reform in my ministry. It is a really tough balance. I like the Mounce quote and it gives me peace of mind knowing that as long as I am under the authority of my elders and doing things with their stamp of approval then I am not stepping outside my biblically prescribed role.

  2. tyler cunningham Says:

    if a young man can plant a church, establish an effective foundation for the kingdom of God and have the ability to appoint men into eldership, how is it that their not qualified for the role of eldership themselves?

  3. Matthew Cunningham Says:


    I appreciate your question. Actually we have been asked this type of question repeatedly, so I am going to write an extended response and reply in the form of a blog post.

  4. Steve Marquardt Says:

    I think I am wrestling with the same question that Tyler asked (especially since we discussed it at home!).

    If a young man can effectively plant a new local church, how is it that he might not be qualified to step into the position of being an elder as well? It seems to me that in successfully planting a healthy local church, a person would need to do a great deal of teaching and exercising authority. As far as I can tell, these very two activities-teaching and exercising authority-are those things which distinctively mark an elder in the local church (1 Tim. 2:12, 3:2, 5, 5:17, etc). In planting a local church, then, our “Timothy” in question is functioning as an elder.

    Someone might object, “Yes, a young man can teach and exercise authority under the oversight of other elders in planting churches, but he needs to wait until he has more experience in life to step into the established role of elder.” I suppose my response to this would be, “Isn’t successfully doing a great amount of teaching and exercising authority in the planting of a local church a significant amount of experience?” It seems to me that in planting a local church, a “Timothy” might have far more relevant experience than many older qualified gentlemen serving as elders today.

    In addition to these observations, in my judgment it also seems that our young “Timothy” would know the church and its own unique dynamics better than many others whom he might appoint as elders, since he himself has gone through the grueling process of labor in bringing it into being, and he already as an understanding of how the church will respond to different styles of leadership.

    With all of this being said, I fully support what you guys are doing with the Paul and Timothy project! I think the majority of young men in Bible colleges and seminaries (myself included!) are nowhere near being qualified to function as an elder, and this ministry is vitally necessary in the process of helping us along to that goal. Regardless, I suppose my suggestion is that the very case of Timothy-and many other mature and gifted young men-demonstrates that Paul’s regulations regarding elders has more to do with maturity and character than with meeting a certain age requirement. God bless!

  5. Vince Olaer Says:

    Hello there!!! I like this post. i am a 27 year old pastor, a “young pastor”. I think, authority is not really the main issue here. but it’s the obedience that we have to do in the work of the Lord.

    I also think that the authority that we are talking here is about “Spiritual Maturity”. Naturally, Paul was the discipler of Timothy, therefore, Timothy was sent with Paul’s blessings. But Timothy is also to share the message to “Reliable Men” who can teach others. In doing this, Timothy must also exercise that authority.

    I believe that even if we are young, as long as our spiritual maturity is still above the rest of GOd’s flock in a “particular setting”, then I think we can still be qualified to become “deacons”.

    By the way, impliedly speaking, Eldership today is now equivalent to Deaconship unlike in the Bible, Elders are actually Bishops or pastors.

    Back to the topic, we are to exercise the authority given to us by God. And we have to work as “a good workman who is not ashamed of anything…” (2Timothy 2).

    I encourage you to also visit my sermon posts in http://www.lighthouseresource.blogspot.com.

    Right now, I’ve been making sermons about 2Timothy. I am also on the process of editing my 1Timothy sermon collection. I strongly suggest that you subscribe to me via email or via RSS Feed… my sermons might contribute to this site as well.

    this is a wonderful blog!!! God bless!!!!

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