Would you be interested in planting a church that will one day equate to several thousand people, having a direct, positive effect on the ultimate spiritual and moral transformation of your region? How would you like an annual financial budget of millions of dollars, that you do not have to keep, but could sow into ministry world wide? Many today would enjoy the concepts that all of this would offer them, yet the looming question of, “How?” is ever present.
In the First Century A.D., the “Early Church” seemed to be able to achieve such long lasting results. That Church changed the world, not just of its day, but we are still the lasting, ongoing product of their endeavors, even though some would say that we are a very flawed product.
The Lord recently said, “Learn the lesson of the spiders!” I saw a thick forest in summertime. As I walked through the trees, I soon became entangled in many spider webs. I soon ended my walk, and began to watch. Here is the vision the Lord gave me. I saw many webs, and each was covered with a mother spider and several hundred baby spiders, so small I could hardly see them. The baby spiders began to grow and soon left the web and found some branches of their own. They surveyed the area, and chose their boundaries and began to form their own webs and worked from the outside boundary inward. Within a few days they began to have baby spiders themselves and the process was duplicated over and again. Soon the forest was filled, over-run with spiders! A nasty fly flitting through that forest did not have a chance!
The forest represents a region or an area, the baby spiders are churches, the mother spider is an apostolic, itinerant, church planting worker, with her web being the covenant relationships linking everything together. The Lord said, “Do not underestimate the power of the web!” To understand this one must take pity on the fly. The fly is often larger than the spider but does not stand a chance against the power of the spider web! The spider never leaves home without the web! I have seen spiders flying through the air, as they grasp onto a long length of their web, allowing the wind to blow them to the next tree. Therefore the glue to everything we do is based on the web of covenant relationships. Everything has to begin at this point. Without the web the spider cannot survive!
The “Simple Church”
The First Century Church is often called the “Simple Church.” The reason being it was extremely simple in structure, yet totally affected the entire world it touched. The Church, the spiders, met in homes. There were no buildings to pay for. Wherever a “young spider” would land, a new church was formed. There is not even one verse of Scripture that would even faintly indicate that the Early Church ever paid to have “church buildings” built!
~Romans 16:3-5, “Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila…..also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.”
~Romans 16:23 speaks of the church that meets in the house of Gaius.
~I Corinthians 16:19, “The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings.”
~Colossians 4:15, “Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.”
~Philemon verses 1, 2, “I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house.”
If you examine a working, fully functioning family, you can understand the concept that God choose for His Church. A family eats together, works together, relates together, and even plays together. The children of the family one day leave, creating families of their own, yet they are always linked together by the bond of the family tie. Likewise so worked the Church of the First Century. The concept of the Church worked 2000 years ago, and if the same principles would be applied today, they would now also.
Looking at a Simple Church Meeting
In the 1930’s, Watchman Nee said, “People go to a Sunday meeting 52 Sundays per year, and never once attend a church meeting.” Nee said that a “church meeting” could be described by one word, “Mutuality.” Here’s a view of the typical “simple, church meeting” that the Baby Spiders would have:
“When you meet together, one Will l sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” I Corinthians 14:26
This church meeting works best in a home. A defining characteristic would be that everyone comes together, sits in a circle and opens up, enters in, actually becoming the Church.
Now catch the concept of hundreds of these Baby Spider meetings being held all over your Region! And, if you look close enough, you can see the almost invisible webs attaching all of these “Spider Churches” together. Again, the Lord said, “Do no underestimate the power of the webs!” The fly fully understands! The Simple Churches of 2000 years ago were all linked together. “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.” (Ephesians 2: 20, 21) The “Simple Churches” of 2000 years ago were “webbed together” by covenant relationships. These relationships, or strands of the web, are almost unbreakable. Ask the fly what he thinks about them! They are the glue that hold the Spider’s Church together.
Babies become Parents
As the baby spiders grow, mature, they begin to develop a strong instinct, that of replicating themselves. Baby spiders; eventually have baby spiders of their own to take care of. And so the process expands. Soon the forest is full of spiders, all linked together by the same DNA and strong webs of relationships. Soon a Mega Spider Church is formed, taking complete control of everything in the forest. Even the giant bears have to wipe the spider webs out of their faces as they amble through the woods! No thing creeping or flying has a chance. The spiders will devour all insects!
The parent spiders, the apostle spiders will say to the young ones, “Go plant your new web between those two branches and I’ll help you get started, and guide you along the way.”
The Larger Picture
We see apostolic networks of the church planting “works,” comprised of hundreds of house churches in the region, functioning in the I Corinthians 14:26 model, coming together from time to time for joint, corporate meetings of the “Work.” All of the churches are linked together in a network of covenant. Soon, the community is transformed, as well as webs of influence begin to go to other areas and the same model is taught, empowered and released.
One last thought here; through this working, New Testament model, millions of dollars will be released into the work of the Ministry of Jesus Christ.
Let us learn God’s lessons of church planting from the lowly spider. After all, the fly bets his life on it!
Blessings ~ Larry