One of the greatest joys I have in belonging to the family of Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia is in seeing the zeal for church planting. In 1986 there were no Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia. As this magazine goes to print, we have about 40 Reformed Baptist churches in this country. Lusaka alone has over ten. All this has taken place in the last 30 years. This is truly exciting!

We now have Reformed Baptist churches in all but one of the provincial capitals. Along the major routes from Livingstone to Solwezi and from Mongu to chipata, there is hardly a single town that has been skipped.

The energy has even begun to spill over into neighbouring countries. Thus churches have been planted in Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, and now Sierra Leone. News has it that another church is due to be planted in Tanzania.

This is how it should be. The Great Commission that the Lord Jesus Christ left with his church was not meant only for the apostles up to the Western missionaries like Dr Livingstone who brought Christianity to Africa. It is also meant for us, the Zambian church. We too must obey this command.

In this issue of Reformation Zambia we try to capture something of this work of church planting. We have gone to actual church planting missionaries—the practitioners—and asked them to tell us about the work. Thankfully, they have responded favourably and here are their thoughts.

Pastor Kennedy Kawambale has written about the biblical necessity of church planting. This is meant to convince us that Jesus requires this from us. He also urges us to get involved in church planting because of the many false teachers and false churches around. If we do not sow wheat, the only option that many Christians will have is to eat tares, and we will be to blame. I love the fact that he draws our attention to the new suburbs that are sprouting everywhere around us. Do we have plans to plant churches there?

Pastor Kwenda Kwenda has written on the stages of church planting. This helps us to see where any church is in the stages of growth. He draws our attention to the fact that the first stage of church planting is red-hot evangelism. It is as a result of fruit from evangelistic labours that individuals are brought into the fold and become members of the new church plant. Pastor Kwenda goes on to show us that discipleship is the second stage of church planting. By discipleship he means the process by which new believers are helped to grow in their most holy faith. Finally, he shows us that the last stage of church planting is leadership development. This is because a church can only become autonomous when it has the capacity to be self-governed. It is out of this leadership development that the first elders of a church are chosen.

Pastor Curtis Chirwa draws up for us “the wish list of missionaries.” This list comprises what missionaries wish their sending or supporting churches were doing for them as they labour on the mission field. It is good to go through this list and ask ourselves the question, “Are we doing everything that our missionaries would with we were doing?” Having been an indigenous missionary himself until this year, this list must be from his own experience. We do well to listen to him!

As usual, we aim in this magazine to speak to the ordinary members of the church who are in the pews. This issue of Reformation Zambia, therefore, is not aimed only at our church leaders. Every Christian needs to be actively involved in church planting. As in coal mining, church planting missionaries are like the miners who are at the coalface. They are the ones with pick and shovel getting the coal for us. However, if we who are on the surface are not sending them air, and food, and equipment, and light, you can be sure they will soon get frustrated and give up the whole enterprise.

That is how church planting is. We thank God for church planting missionaries and the heroic work that they are doing “at the coalface”. However, they cannot do it without us. We must send them the supplies so that they do not get frustrated. In this issue of Reformation Zambia we are hearing about the role that we ought to play as ordinary Christians in the work of missions. Are we willing to play that role in obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ? If we are, then let us read on!