I. THE NEED FOR ESTABLISHING CHURCHES
Why is there a need to establish the churches? The universal church has already been formed by the Triune God, but where can people see it? This glorious church must be practical and real to people. Local churches are needed so that people may see God’s glory. Before the Lord ascended to heaven, He said in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the remotest part of the earth.’’ He desires that man would express Him everywhere, from Jerusalem to the remotest part of the earth. Local churches are His practical expression and His testimony. Therefore, local churches must be established all over the inhabited earth for the sake of His testimony. The apostles, in Acts, began to establish the local churches and we are continuing this process until the Lord’s return.
II. BEING LOCAL
[The local churches are established, not formed. Establishment is different from formation. We should not say that we are going to a certain place to form a local church there. On the contrary, we go to a certain city not to form a local church but to establish a local church. The church as a whole was altogether formed more than nineteen hundred years ago on the day of Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius. This means that, in the eyes of God, the universal church, the Body of Christ, has been formed. This is an accomplished fact. Now, after the formation of this universal church as a complete entity, there is the need for the spreading of the church. The way to spread the church is to bring it to a certain locality and plant it. This planting is the establishment of a local church.]
[No one is able to go to a place to form a local church. Assuming to do such a thing would be abominable in the sight of God, for it is presuming to do something that only God Himself can do. But although we cannot form the church, we have the position, the right, the opportunity, and even the commission to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to establish local churches.
The Lord has formed the church. Our burden is to bring the church as a tree to every city, town, and village and plant a church there. We all need to be faithful to carry out the burden to establish local churches by planting church trees. We should be burdened not just for the saving of sinners but for the establishing of churches. The married couples should be like Prisca and Aquilla who planted a church tree wherever they went. If we all have the desire to establish churches by planting church trees, the establishing of the churches will be very fast and prevailing.]
You may say, “I am only in high school, how can I go and establish churches?’’ Do not worry. Prepare yourselves for the Master’s use by reading the word and by praying everyday, by being in the church meetings, by developing a good character, by studying hard, and by going to a good college. After you graduate from college you can attend the full-time training. By being trained, you will be made ready by the Lord. When the time comes, based on the sending of the Holy Spirit, you will have the opportunity, along with other saints, to plant church trees, that is, to establish local churches.
III. THE PATTERN OF THE APOSTLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In this section [we shall give a history of the planting of local churches recorded in the New Testament. According to this record, the planting of the churches began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and went as far as Rome. Although Paul wanted to go to Spain, he was not able to do so. Therefore, during New Testament times, the planting of the churches went only as far as Italy.]
A. Starting from Jerusalem
[The establishment of the churches began from the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), and it started from the city of Jerusalem (Acts 2:5).]
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)