As true churches of Jesus Christ, the URCNA are obligated to fulfill our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28.18-20). The book of Acts reveals how this is fulfilled through the planting of churches and the ordinary means of grace. After receiving the power of the Spirit (Acts 2.1-4), the apostles preached the gospel (2.14-36), baptized believers with their children (2.37-41), and began meeting regularly with those who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2.42). Thus, the first new covenant church was established. This same pattern of planting churches unfolds throughout the entire book of Acts as the apostles went throughout the world preaching Christ, baptizing believers and their households, and planting churches with appointed elders to oversee the new disciples (Acts 14.21-23).
The necessity of the local church for the making of disciples can hardly be overemphasized. This is our Lord’s chosen means for gathering his redeemed people, feeding them with his Word, receiving their worship, nurturing their faith, and bonding them as a community rooted and established in love (Rom. 12; Eph. 4; Phil. 1.27-2.11). The local church is a manifestation of the people who belong to Christ, and also the place where he meets them through the means he has ordained. This makes the local church essential to church planting.
Because the church must continue to fulfill the Great Commission until the return of our Lord, true churches need to be planted where few or none exist. We must be committed to the task of making disciples not only by the weekly means of grace in our congregations, but also by planting new congregations. Our missionary task, as our Church Order says in Article 47, “is to preach the Word of God to the unconverted,” which is often “performed beyond the field of an organized church.” This vital duty is “to be carried out by ministers of the Word set apart to this labor, who are called, supported and supervised by their Consistories.” Since we have agreed in our Church Order that “the churches should assist each other in the support of their missionaries,” each of our congregations should prioritize church planting in the URCNA over all other mission-related endeavors.