FOUR REASONS WHY
Establishing new churches is the best way to reach non-believers with the gospel, increase the number of believers in a region, and renew the whole Body of Christ. The evidence for this statement is strong—biblically, sociologically, and historically.
1. WE WANT TO BE TRUE TO THE GREAT COMMISSION
Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. New churches best reach new generations, new residents, and new people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ: (1) Younger adults have always been disproportionately found in newer congregations, (2) new residents are almost always better reached by new congregations, and (3) new sociocultural groups in a community are better reached by new congregations. New churches best reach the unchurched—period.
2. WE WANT TO BE TRUE TO THE BIBLICAL MANDATE
How did the Apostles interpret the Great Commission in their generation? Answer: They planted churches. Everywhere. Most of the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are calls to plant churches, not simply to share the faith. The New Testament model to increase the number of Christians in a city is to increase the number of churches. Much of traditional evangelism reductively aims to get a ‘decision’ for Christ, but experience shows that many of these ‘decisions’ disappear. When a person is discipled in the context of a church community lasting transformation occurs. This is why leading missiologist C. Peter Wagner says, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.” The greatest missionary in history, St. Paul, employed a rather simple strategy. First, he went to preach the gospel in large urban city contexts (Acts 16:9-12). Second, he planted a church planting churches (Titus 1:5).
3. WE WANT TO CONTINUALLY RENEW THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST
Church planting serves to revitalize older churches in the vicinity and renew the whole Body of Christ. Why? First, new churches have the freedom to be innovative serving as the ‘Research and Development’ department bringing new ideas for the whole Body in the city. Second, new churches tend to surface creative, strong leaders for the whole Body. New congregations attract a higher percentage of venturesome people who value creativity, risk, innovation, and future orientation. Many of these men and women would never be attracted or compelled into significant ministry apart from church planting. Third, the “success” of new churches challenge other churches to self-examination as they clarify their vision, specialties, and identity. Finally, new churches serve as an ‘evangelistic feeder’ for a whole community as they produce converts who end up in older churches for a variety of reasons. So ordinarily, church plants produce new people not only for themselves, but for older bodies as well.
4. IT'S AN EXERCISE IN KINGDOM-MINDEDNESS
All in all, church planting helps an existing church most substantially when the new congregation is voluntarily ‘birthed’ by an older ‘mother’ congregation. Often the excitement, new leaders, new ministries, additional members, and income ‘wash back’ into the mother church in various ways and strengthens and renews it. More importantly, our attitude about new church development is a test of whether our mindset is geared toward our own institutional turf or toward the overall advancement of the Kingdom of God in the city.
***Adapted from an article written by Tim Keller, entitled “Why Plant Churches.”