There have been many worldwide, significant movements in the spread of the gospel throughout the history of the church. In each of them ordinary, everyday men and women have had a large role.
John Wesley was a man of great learning with years of education and religious training. He was the leader of one of the great revival and church planting movements of history. However, Wesley did not go to the established schools of religious training to find his pastors and leaders.
He said, “Give me twelve men who love Jesus with all their hearts and who do not fear men or devils. I care not one whit whether they be clergy or laity. With these men I will change the world.” And that is just what Mr. Wesley did.
To preach the gospel in the open air in Wesley’s day was the height of sacrilege. It was considered a serious affront to the established church. The sacred Word of God could not be proclaimed outside of a church building.
The Wesley brothers and George Whitefield suffered years of persecution for breaking the long-standing traditions of the established church. However, this did not stop them.
They knew the scriptures. They were convinced that if Jesus could break with tradition, it was acceptable for them to do the same.
Now we will quote again from the writings of the “father” of the church growth movement, Dr. McGavran. In his book UNDERSTANDING CHURCH GROWTH, he states:
“Develop unpaid lay leaders. Laymen have played a great part in urban expansions of the Church.
“From the beginning of church growth in the cities of Latin America, unpaid common men led the congregations.
“In some places laborers, mechanics, clerks or truck drivers teach the Bible — lead in prayer — tell what God has done for them — or exhort the brethren. In these places Christianity looks and sounds natural to ordinary men.
“Ministering laymen are subject to the same hazards, and bound by the same work schedules, as their congregation. They may lack in correctness of Bible teaching or beauty of prayers. However, they more than make up for this lack by their intimate contact with the common people.
“No paid worker from the outside can know as much about a neighborhood as someone who has dozens of intimate friends and relatives all about him.
“It is true that on ‘new ground’ an outsider has to be the one to start new works. No one else can. However, it is best if he soon turns the new churches over to local men.”
In his book BREAKING THE STAINED GLASS BARRIER, David Womack wrote: “There is only one way the Great Commission can be fulfilled, and that is by establishing gospel-preaching congregations in every community on the face of the earth.”
Roger Greenway, a specialist in reaching cities, says in DISCIPLING THE CITY: “The church’s evangelistic task demands that every barrio, apartment building, and neighborhood have a church faithful to God’s Word established in it.”
CHURCHES BY THE MILLIONS
Not long ago I was reading the book by Jim Montgomery entitled DAWN 2000. It has a subtitle that I could hardly believe: SEVEN MILLION CHURCHES TO GO. I thought to myself, “How could anyone even dare to think in terms of millions of churches?”