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Why does Elim need to plant new churches?

We need lots more Spirit-filled, mission focused churches if we’re to bring in the harvest, insists Gary Gibbs

David Bosch, the influential missiologist wrote: “Mission is a movement from God to the world; the Church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is a Church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people…”

Someone contacted me on social media recently to ask why the Elim Movement is so keen on planting new churches, sometimes in areas where there already exists a Pentecostal/charismatic church. It’s a good question!

For me, a main part of the answer lies in the heart of God towards lost people. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

It’s clear that we need lots more Spirit-filled, mission-focused churches if we are to bring in the harvest. I once calculated that if every existing church in the UK had an average congregation of 400, there would still be more than three-quarters of the population outside! And of course, the body of Christ in our land is nowhere near this size.

So for me, some of the heroes of the faith within Elim are those women and men who are boldly and bravely stepping out of our established churches to pioneer a new work for God.

In most cases, this is a grassroots ministry with little in the way of limelight and kudos. They lay themselves open to being misunderstood and misrepresented, often by other churches. They may well face financial struggles and definitely stamina stretch. They will come across so many people whose lives have descended into spiritual, material or emotional chaos. Why bother? Why not settle for something equally valid but a lot safer?

I remember the story of two young Moravian missionaries who set sail from Germany in 1732 to share the gospel with African slaves in the West Indies. It was thought that the only way it would be possible was if they sold themselves into slavery. As the ship left port, these two young men were heard to shout back to the crowd on the quayside: “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering!”

As it happened, the two of them ended up not having to become slaves, but worked for very little money and spent their time and energy sharing Jesus with those in bondage. A couple of years later they returned home, but now the floodgate of service and mission was opened and many others followed in their footsteps.

In fact, it is estimated that 13,000 slaves were baptised by the Moravians before any other missionaries arrived on the islands.

In the West at present, millions are held in slavery and bondage: so many are ‘without hope and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12).

Someone reading this is called to the great adventure of bringing freedom to those enslaved by sin. Is it you?

One more Bosch quote: “God is a fountain of sending love. This is the deepest source of mission. It is impossible to penetrate deeper still; there is mission because God loves people.”

In some way or other we are all called to participate in God’s mission. It may just be that for you, pioneering something brand new is on the Lord’s agenda. If so, get in touch with Elim REACH!

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