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Why Church Plant?

Why Should We... Plant another church?

Did you know that one of the best and most often modeled resources for successful church planting comes from within the PCA denomination? Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York, has accomplished much in its mission to transform the city of New York for Christ. In addition, every year, they plant churches. So the question, "Why plant another church?" is often asked of them. We have tried to highlight a few of their answers for our use, but for a more comprehensive listing.

Let's address two questions that most often arise when we first mention starting a new church:

Why should we start a new church when...

"We already have plenty of churches that have lots and lots of room for new people...why don't we fill those churches before we start anything new?"

Why should we start a new church when...

"A lot of people don't feel a need for a church anymore and a new church will hurt the already existing churches who are struggling to make it...why don't we help the struggling ones first."

These questions appear to be common sense to many people; perhaps you have even asked the same question before? But we believe we should ask a more fundamental question, "Why is church planting so crucially important?"

Answer:

"The vigorous, continual planting of new churches is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of existing churches in any city. Nothing else! Not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting or renewal process will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study [in church planting] at all, it is not even controversial."

Tim Keller
Why Plant Churches

Nothing will have the consistent impact that dynamic, extensive church planting will have in spreading the gospel!


Practical Wisdom

New Churches best reach the unchurched.

Dozens of studies* from many major denominations have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its members (60-80%) from among people outside any worshiping community, while churches over 20 years old gain most of their new members from people moving from other congregations. Therefore, we believe that new churches are critical if we are to draw new people into the Body of Christ.

*Lyle Schaller
Quoted in D.McGarvran and G. Hunter
Church Growth: Strategies that Work
New churches best reach new residents, new generations and new people groups.
  • New residents are disproportionately found in new congregations because newcomers do not need years of tenure before their voices are heard or before they can gain real leadership and influence in the church.
  • New and younger generations are found in large numbers in new churches because there is greater openness to new ministry approaches and to new leadership.
  • Newly arrived people groups are found in new congregations because of a contextualized approach to evangelism, worship and discipleship.

Interesting Studies...

Churches face an imposing challenge to not allow people to substitute religious business for genuine spiritual transformation.

There are many reasons for the lack of spiritual transformation and Christian conversion within the United States and even throughout Los Angeles; however, one of the main reasons has to do with the great decline in aggressive church planting since World War I. After WWI, the US had developed as a nation and towns and cities had been successfully established throughout. Each of these new towns and cities started new churches. As the towns grew and aged, these churches, by and large, resisted any "new church" coming into their area. In many ways, this resistance effectively started the decline in significant church growth throughout the U.S. It also meant that as the towns and cities grew in population, there were fewer churches to care for the spiritual needs of the growing community.1 In fact, a recent Barna Group study found that the number of unchurched adults in the United States has doubled since 1991. That growth has been especially pronounced among men, people under 40, singles, and people living in coastal states.2 This ultimately has lead to people feeling distant, disconnected and disconcerted towards the church itself, raising questions of "why do we need a church anyway?"

1 Roger Finke & Rodney Stark, The Church of America 1776-1990
2 The Barna Group's Annual Report 2004
While the research done in church planting is helpful, it only serves to emphasize what has already been told to us in God's Word.
Understanding the Biblical Mandate:

Jesus' Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is not just a call to share the faith, to teach and make disciples, but also to baptize. Baptism in the New Testament meant incorporating new believers into the worshiping community where there would be teaching, administration of the sacraments and accountability (Acts 2.41-47).

In addition, we see that an important part of the Apostle Paul's strategy was to plant churches. Paul went to the largest city of the region (Acts. 16:9-12) and then he planted churches in every city (Titus.1:5). Through the Apostle's writings and missionary endeavors, we can see that Paul had two assumptions with regards to starting new churches: 1) That the way to most permanently influence a country was through its chief cities, and 2) The way to most permanently influence a city was to plant churches in it.

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