Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. …If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Jesus (Matt. 18:18-20)
Jesus made three valuable promises to church planters, the sixteen – eighteen- twenty-eight trio:
Matthew 16:18-20 –Jesus will build His church. Our job is to sow the seed and water it.
Matthew 18:18-20 –Jesus will bind an agreement made by two or three gathered in His name.
Matthew 28:18-20 –Jesus will accompany those who instruct disciples to obey Him.
Jesus promised: “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst” (Matt. 18:20). Gather in Jesus’ name with new leaders whom you coach, and, in His presence, let Him bind your agreement to work together to start and shepherd churches.
Let a church start with two or three
What can two or three do? Tiny gatherings of two, three or a very few more, prove capable of fulfilling many biblical requirements of an authentic body. However tiny a group may be, it can:
- Agree on a vital issue in Jesus’ name, so that God will bind it in heaven (Matt. 18:18-20). Large gatherings seldom reach agreement on crucial issues for multiplying churches.
- Experience the Presence of Christ (Matt. 18:18-20).
- Obey Jesus’ basic commands (believe, baptize, love, pray, share, praise, celebrate Communion, give, and apply God’s Word.)
- Exercise spiritual gifts (evangelize, prophesy, exhort, teach, show mercy…)
- Edify one another with loving interaction (practicing the many “one another” commands)
- Persevere through time, trials and persecution
- Reproduce by adding members and forming new gatherings
- Grow quickly, easily doubling its size in only a few day’s time
- Start and thrive without budgets, benches, bells and banners
- Consist of a married couple worshipping as a tiny church that adds children and friends
- Move location easily according to needs or convenience
- Learn quickly from mistakes to make needed changes
- Disciple seekers and new believers
- Provide opportunity for new leaders to gain experience
- Evade bullying by oppressive laws and hostile government authorities
Two or three of whom?
The New Testament provides examples of many small gatherings, some of them consisting, at least temporarily, of two or three individuals. These include:
- one individual sharing with another (a couple from Emmaus),
- newly saved households (a Philippian jailor),
- home-based gatherings (Lydia’s house),
- apostolic teams (Paul and Silas),
- those praying for restoration (Matt. 18:19-20),
- training leaders (Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos).
Thus, the two or three may be individuals, evangelists, married couples, heads of households, teammates, military personnel, students on campus, friends at coffeehouses, and so forth.
Basic unit of all growth
A silent reality of all social groups, including congregations, missionary bands, house gatherings and discipling gatherings, is that they grow mostly in units of two or three. Normally, two believers find another; every one or two couples seeks another couple; every one or two shepherds seeks to train a new one. Loners seldom see this type of growth, until they do as Jesus said, going at least “two by two.”
How does this work out as you plant churches? Let very believer win a friend, every couple find another couple, and every shepherd appoint an apprentice. Next, every two friends win a third, every two couples seek a third couple, every two shepherds appoint a third. Each such “triad” seeks another individual, another couple, another shepherd until they are four, which become two pairs of individuals, two pairs of couples, two pairs of shepherds. The, every pair again seeks another. It is not a matter of mathematical precision, but simply working together on a micro level to win people to Christ and disciple them in a normal, effective and reproductive way.
A tactic for reproduction
Help those whom you disciple or coach, including apprentice shepherds, to:
- Match every believer or believing couple with another believer or believing couple, for mutual encouragement and service.
- Match them during cell or congregation gatherings, or between gatherings.
- Instruct every pair to pray and ask God to bring them a third believer or couple.
- Have those three pray and ask God to bring a fourth.
- When the fourth has come, form two pairs or two couples.
- Both of these twosomes pray and ask God for a third believer or a third couple, and so on.
This process will continue until the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with power and glory.