Healthy Leaders


Three Biblical Images for the Building of the Church

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

If we do not have a clear and biblical goal, we will not accomplish the purposes of God. Christian activity for its own sake is not our goal. Our true goal is to obey the commandment of the Lord Jesus:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus commanded us to make disciples of people from all nations, teaching them “everything” He commanded us. Moreover, Jesus explicitly stated His own purpose:

… I will build My Church … (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus’ purpose is to build His Church. That must be our purpose: to work in the building of His Church. Just because we have a church doesn’t mean it is His; and just because we are involved in a lot of religious activity doesn’t mean that He is building His Church. Our purpose must be to work in the building of His Church.

This same purpose is stated by Paul using various images.

The Preparation of the Bride of Christ

… Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him. (2 Corinthians 11:2)

Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the Church to be His Bride (Eph. 5:25–27). Upon Jesus’ return, the official wedding ceremony will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His wife will be actualized (Rev. 19:7–9).

The Maturing of the Body of Christ

It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be

evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.(Ephesians 4:11-15; cf. Colossians 2:19)

God’s purpose is for His people – as one Body – to grow together to maturity in Christ. He does not want His Body to stay a baby. He wants His Body to mature to full stature.

The Building of the House of God

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens

with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-17)

God’s purpose is to prepare for Himself an eternal dwelling place, which is the corporate union of His people.

Any one of these images would be insufficient in describing the fullness of what Jesus is doing.

In the image of the Bride, there are the ideas of passion, focused love, obedience, surrender, incompleteness without Him, unity, mutual ownership, holiness, purity, and intimate fellowship with God.

In the image of the Body, there are the ideas of fellowship between the saints, servanthood, the union of lives, coordination, patience and love towards each other. There is also the idea of activity – every member being gifted and equipped for mobilization and action. This Body will express the life and nature of Jesus Christ to the world.

In the image of the Temple, there are the ideas of a solid foundation, protection, security, visibility, the preparation of the living stones, worship, sacrifice and corporate union with God.

Together, these three images show us the nature of the Church that Jesus is building.

Jesus’ purpose is to build His Church – to prepare His Bride, to mature His Body, to build His House. This was the vision that drove Jesus to the Cross. This was the vision that drove the church planters in Acts. This is the vision that drives church planters today – the building of Jesus’ Church.

About Church Planting in the Book of Acts by Malcolm Webber:

The Early Church saw Spirit-filled, miraculous, and vibrant growth; by emulating the pattern for church planting found in Scripture, the modern Church can see similar results. 

This work takes us on an exploration of the New Testament pattern, not for the purpose of formulaic church planting, but to remind us that before we build a house we need to evaluate and understand what is involved biblically. Through Paul’s life and an examination of four journeys he undertook, we see healthy church planting lived out in extreme, harsh circumstances. Across cultures and in the face of opposition, Paul demonstrated effective ministry, a healthy dependency on God, and a healthy view of the relationship between the church planter and the Church. 

Dr. Webber clearly defines the essential attributes of a successful church plant, the definition and goals of a healthy church planter, and the most effective methods for planting churches. Replete with practical examples in areas ranging from church discipline to partnering with other local churches, this guide provides a thorough, foundational understanding of every role in a healthy church plant.

Church Planting in the Book of Acts is available for purchase here. To purchase more of our books, visit

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