Planting a Reformed church

The mission of planting the Reformed Church Southern Suburbs by the Reformed Church Bellville is in response to Christ’s Great Commission given in Matthew 28 to proclaim the gospel and disciple the nations.  We believe that there is a need in the southern suburbs of Cape Town for another church that faithfully preaches the Word of God, rightly administers the sacraments and exercises church discipline (which we confess are the three marks of a true church; see Belgic Confession 29.)

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Church planting, however, is a relatively new undertaking by the Reformed Churches of South Africa.  Hence, not only are we looking to our own ministers and theologians for direction, but we are also eager to glean insights from other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations around the world.  One such denomination is the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which has historically enjoyed fraternal relations with the RCSA and also happens to be my former church in the USA.

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One of the resources that the Bellville church planting commission has been making use of is the OPC church planting manual.  One of the things that the manual stresses is the importance of proper church government for the life of a new church.

It is vital for the church planter and those who work with him to have a well-thought-out concept of the nature and purpose of the church. The doctrine of the church must be a well-studied subject for those who have responsibility to steer and guide the development of a new church. The Reformed faith presents a deep and robust understanding of the nature, purpose, work, and structure of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. These Biblical concepts impact every aspect of the work and ministry of church planting. So it is important from the beginning of the process to stress what the Bible teaches about the kind of local church Christ intends to build.

What we believe concerning the nature of the church is going to dictate how we view the growth of the church.  No doubt, everyone wants to see a new church grow.  However, we need to be careful to pursue growth in accordance with God’s Word, which means we follow the directives he has ordained.

[W]hen the [OPC] Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension talks about the importance of the growth of our mission works in size and maturity, it is not thinking about the employment of sociologically derived methodologies to gather people, but about the appropriate, Biblical functioning of the church. And when we discuss methods of planting new churches, we are not thinking about organizational science, but about the practical outworking of a Biblical ecclesiology [church government]…

Jesus said, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). He was signaling the dawn of a new age in redemptive history, the age of the harvest. As the book of Acts records this harvest growth, it always reminds us that God is in charge of it. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). “And all who were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). We can therefore be optimistic as we plant new churches. We are the harvesters, and this is the age of the harvest. No rebellious, sin-hardened individual is beyond hope, because the Sovereign Lord can, and often does, soften the hardest of hearts.

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