We have worked at planting a church in this city for two years plus now. We arrived here not knowing anyone. One Chinese friend of our family moved with us to help with the kids and around the house, she was our first attendee, but after about a year she rejected the faith and turned away. Needless to say, planting a church isn’t easy.
We have worked at making disciples. We started the church with just my family and a couple of contacts. From there, we saw some growth, but also started reaching out to a new part of town with an evangelistic Bible study that also turned into a small church. Over time, it only seemed reasonable for us to merge these two works together.
So the question is, “When should a church be organized?” Every church is different and may choose to do this at different times. We know that Jesus said (in reference to church discipline), “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), so there needs to be two or more believers who are willing to unite together for the purpose of establishing a local church.
Next we see that, “They that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42). New believers were baptized, added to the church and continued together in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. These are the very basics from which a church is started: (1) born-again believers who are (2) baptized, (3) starting to regularly assemble (4) willing to continue in the apostles doctrine and (5) desiring to fulfill its purpose as a church.
Where this group of believers exist and desire to become a church, they should organize so that all things will be done decently and in order.
For us this meant that we waited until we had a core of people who met these requirements. After merging the churches together, we seemed to have this core and were ready to make this public commitment.
If you are wanting to know dates and actually time frames, here you go: Gospel held its’ first service on April 7, 2013 and Grace had its first service as a church on April 6th, 2014. They merged together and held the first joint service as Dalian Grace Baptist Church on September 28th 2014. So that is about 22 months from the first service to the Organization service on Sunday, November 9, 2014.