By Larry Doornbos, pastor of Evergreen Ministries, firstname.lastname@example.org
While many people have read the great abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, not as many people know how the book was written. The author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote the end of the book first.
When I reflect on church planting, I deeply believe that we need to plant churches that root themselves in both the beginning and the end of God’s story. At the beginning of the story, God gives humankind a calling: to govern the world he created, using the creativity we have as God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:26, ESV).
The fall darkens the image, but it does not dim God’s vision for human beings. This brings us to the end of the story, where the Bible tells us that we will rule over God’s creation, infused with God’s shalom.
We need to plant churches that call people to follow Jesus by inviting them into a life of living as image-bearers of God. Our desire goes beyond making sure people get to heaven. Our desire is to nurture people who are fully alive for God. In the book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, Andy Crouch points out that being fully alive can’t be separated from justice:
“Ultimately the reason for both the work of evangelism and the work of justice is not simply the relief of suffering, whether present or eternal. It is the restoration of God’s true image in the world, made known in the one true Image and Icon, Jesus Christ, and refracted and reflected in fruitful, multiplying image bearers set free by his death and resurrection to reclaim their true calling.”
When we look at the beginning and ending of the story, we discover the wonder of planting churches that are about evangelism and justice—churches that can’t be otherwise if they are going to honor the beginning and the ending of the story.