Let’s drop in to the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). Cornelius and his extended family and friends have just come to know Christ through Peter, the reluctant missionary.
It’s late at night and the next morning Peter and his companions are leaving. Peter hopes to return in the next few months, but there is no guarantee.
Time is running out and Peter needs to explain to Cornelius what it means to be the people of God.
What do they need to form a communities of disciples? To leave anything out that is essential will corrupt what this group becomes and what it reproduces. To add anything that is not essential will reduce it’s ability to function and spread unhindered.
Put yourself in Peter’s place. List every possible element that you could include in helping Cornelius understand what it means be God’s people. Now remove every item you can until what you have left is the irreducible minimum of a church.
Until you can answer that question, you will not see a church planting movement. You may see some churches planted, but not a movement.
Movements know what the essentials of church are, and that’s what they produce and reproduce. Nothing more, and nothing less. Other things may be desirable, but not essential. They slow a movement down. Some elements are so essential, that if they are removed what is left is no longer a church.
What goes down on the list? What gets crossed off?
Luke has his list, the bare bones of what a church is (Acts 2:42-47). Nothing added that would slow down the spread of a movement. Nothing neglected that was essential.
The more you add to that list, the harder it becomes for new believers to form churches in their world. If new believers are not forming churches, you’ll never see a church planting movement. You may plant churches, but they won’t multiply.