Spontaneous Expansion book coverI spent some time reading from Roland Allen’s classic “The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church.”  While this book was written back in the 1927 and based upon his experience as a missionary in China from 1895 to 1903, much of it is timeless and parts are absolutely brilliant.  Here are four excerpts to which I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions:

EXCERPT #1:  “Many years ago my experience in China taught me that if our object was to establish in that country a church which might spread over the six provinces which then formed the diocese of North China, that object could only be attained if the first Christians who were converted by our labors understood clearly that they could by themselves, without any further assistance from us, not only convert their neighbors, but establish churches.  That meant that the very first groups of converts must be so fully equipped with all spiritual authority that they could multiply themselves without any necessary reference to us…”

EXCERPT #2:  “If the first groups of native Christians are not fully organized churches which can multiply themselves, but must wait upon a foreign bishop to move, they are in bondage.”

EXCERPT #3:  “If we seek for the cause which produces rapid expansion when a new faith seizes hold of men who feel able and free to propagate it spontaneously of their own initiative, we find its roots in a certain natural instinct… This instinctive force which drives men even at the risk of life itself to impart to others a new-found joy…  But in Christians there is more than this natural instinct.  The Spirit of Christ is a Spirit who longs for, and strives after, the salvation of the souls of men, and that Spirit dwells in them.  That Spirit converts the natural instinct into a longing for the conversion of others which is indeed divine in its source and character.”

EXCERPT #4:  “By spontaneous expansion I mean something which we cannot control.  And if we cannot control it, we ought, as I think, to rejoice that we cannot control it.  For if we cannot control it, it is because it is too great, not because it is too small for us.  The great things of God are beyond our control.  Therein lies a vast hope.  Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ:  our control cannot reach as far as that.

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