I never thought I would be so inspired by a worm. Can you imagine a creature that can rebuild from just a little segment of its body? Did you know this is an example of what a disciple is?
Because of so many stem cells in its body, the planarian can recreate every organ and every other cell needed to continue life. Most “Christians” do not become disciples. They become Bible consumers and worship enthusiasts, but disciples? I am afraid most believers don’t know the meaning of the term.
Think of it like this: take everyone from your church congregation and put them in a city without a church. What are the odds that they would start a new church in that area?
Duplicable is the goal of discipleship
Jesus did not come to plant churches. He came to make disciples. This is where the planarian comes in.
The planarian is a flatworm that will regrow if you cut it up. You can cut this small worm into 300 pieces and each slice will grow the rest of the body: all the nerves, all the muscle, all the digestive system—everything including the original body’s memories.
The Kingdom of God is designed like this. You can cut it up and regrow the kingdom. However, you cannot cut up a 300 member church and grow back 300 churches. Not usually anyway. Unless they are disciples.
Disciples make disciples
Within each segment of the planarian is all the DNA needed to repurpose cells and create the missing structures of the body. In every Spirit-filled disciple is everything needed to create other members of the body who eventually work in the various gifts of ministry.
If a woman is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, you can drop her in the middle of a godless city and she will create other disciples of Jesus Christ. Many “Christians” cannot make other Christians because they do not understand their identity or the purpose of the church.
A disciple has everything needed to regrow the body of Christ in a local context. Such a man will know who Jesus truly is. He knows God’s Word, and he recognizes his own identity. He can pass this on to another, then another, then another. As this DNA develops in each new disciple, all of the needed elements of the body of Christ arise. From this, a church can be formed.
So, the end result is the same, right? Either way, a church is formed, right? Maybe. But the first method of trying to duplicate churches leads to burnout and frustration more often than not.
Starting with the biblical design
Jesus created the first disciples and then He left. He is not making any more disciples. You are.
Something interesting about the planarian is that every part of its body will regrow the rest of the body except two parts. If you cut up the head, it will not regrow the rest of the body. I think this is also a good example of the body of Christ.
Jesus does not go into a community and start a church. In Cornelius’s situation, the Lord sent an angel to him to help him find all truth. The angel did not preach the gospel or tell him what to do to be saved. He told Cornelius to go to the disciple Simon Peter who would tell him what he must do.
The head does not regrow the body. The body regrows the body. When Cornelius’s household heard and responded to the message of the disciple, the body developed once again in a new location.
You cannot just preach
The problem with church planting is that many people feel that if they just set up a location and start preaching the gospel that a church will form. This is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive! Maybe that is why Jesus did not use this method. Instead, He made disciples.
The other part of the planarian body that will not grow the rest of the body is the pharynx. Too many people think they can grow the church by just talking. It takes more than the mouth to build the body of Christ. While we need preaching and teaching, there is a practical aspect to the gospel.
Before being a preacher, I must be a disciple. I must be a disciple maker. Join me in discovering what a disciple really is.
Remember, a church full of 300 disciples could be cut up and whole new groups of disciples would form. With growth and maturity, you would see a fully functional church formed with all the gifts in operation. This is what Jesus came to do. The organizational church has lost this. It is time we got it back.