The Holy Spirit and Church Planting


by Mario Vega

It’s amazing the way Paul handed over the New Testament churches to “rookies” in the faith. In some cities, such as Thessalonica, he only stayed for a few weeks. This means that he left new believers in charge of the house churches he founded. This is even more amazing when we realize that the New Testament had not been written and that Gentile believers had no knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures!

It is true that the churches were coached by Paul and his team and that Paul wrote letters to them to guide them on their journey. Even so, Paul’s practices seem strange to us today, and we wonder how these churches survived. The answer is the Holy Spirit. Paul was able to hand over the work of the ministry to new believers because he trusted the mighty work of the Holy Spirit to guide and preserve the believers.

Paul’s attitude is an expression of the deep faith in the powerful inner working of the Holy Spirit. There is no one better than the Spirit to take care of the church. The result of that trust was an aggressive expansion of the gospel among the pagans who knew nothing of the true God.

If professional ministers do everything in the church, there will be a huge decrease in effective evangelism. Yet, if today’s ministers can trust the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of believers and then to delegate key tasks to them, there will be a mighty expansion of the gospel. And the cell model provides an excellent opportunity to put this trust into practice.



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El Espritu Santo y la plantación de iglesias.

por Mario Vega

Es sorprendente la manera cómo Pablo entregaba con rapidez las iglesias que fundaba a novatos del cristianismo. En algunas ciudades, como Tesalónica, su visita fue de solo unas pocas semanas. Pronto él deba marchar a otra ciudad y dejaba a los nuevos creyentes a cargo de la dirección del nuevo grupo de cristianos. Este panorama se agudiza si se tiene en cuenta que el Nuevo Testamento no haba sido escrito y que los creyentes gentiles no tenan ningún conocimiento de las escrituras del Antiguo Testamento.

Es verdad que las iglesias eran asistidas por los colaboradores de Pablo y que las cartas del apóstol jugaron un papel muy importante, pero, aún as, las condiciones no son las que hoy solemos usar. ¿Cómo podan sobrevivir las iglesias fundadas bajo esas caractersticas? La explicación es la obra del Espritu Santo. Pablo era capaz de entregar la obra del ministerio a personas que apenas comenzaban su vida cristiana porque confiaba en la poderosa obra del Espritu Santo que preservara y guiara a los creyentes.

La actitud es una expresión de la profunda fe que el apóstol tena en la persona del Espritu Santo. Nadie mejor que el Espritu para cuidar y edificar la iglesia. El resultado de esa confianza permitió una expansión agresiva del evangelio entre paganos que no saban nada del Dios verdadero.

En ese modelo de Pablo hay elementos que debemos tener en cuenta a la hora de entregar la confianza de ciertas áreas de trabajo en la iglesia. Si los ministros profesionales acaparan todo, el resultado será una reducción en el potencial evangelizador de la iglesia. Pero, confiar que el Espritu Santo es el Señor de la iglesia puede generarnos la confianza para delegar ciertas tareas a los creyentes que acelere la expansión del evangelio. El modelo celular brinda una excelente oportunidad para poner esto en práctica.


4 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit and Church Planting

  • Pastor, how can we balance this view with what Paul reminded Timothy “not to put a novice” into leadership (1Tim3:6)? I believe this advice of Paul was heeded by many ever since.

  • I think brother Vega is right in encouraging us to trust the Holy Spirit more fully in our ministries. However, I’m afraid that he gives a partial view of the situation in Thessalonica.Paul’s general strategy when entering a new city was to go first to the synagogue. There were at least two reasons for this: (1) There he could find godly Jewish men who were steeped in the Jewish Scriptures and lived lives of integrity (they had to be such in order to be Jewish elders). When they came to see Christ in the Old Testament and believe in Him, they were automatically candidates for leadership in the new congregations. After all, they were already men of proven character and knowledgeable in the Scriptures. I think this is what happened in Thessalonica. Acts 17:4 says: “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas”. (2) This points to the second reason Paul would seek out the synagogue first. God-fearing Gentiles attended the services. Because of this they were familiar with God’s Word.There seems to have been quite a few of these in Thessalonica. So, Paul was nos starting in a total vacuum in this city. Contrary to the impression that brother Vega gives, the new church, though Gentile in its majority, had much help from the Jewish background of some of its members.

  • Great comments here, but I would encourage you to both read Roland Allen’s insights here because he has fully researched the issue from a biblical standpoint (background of the new leaders–both Jew and Gentile or Jew) and Allen tends to agree with Mario Vega!!

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