Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why Church Planting? A Pragmatic Reason

We're going through the five reasons for church planting and taking a closer look at each one. This week, we're focusing in on a pragmatic reason. The fact is that church planting is one of the most effective ways for the church to accomplish its mission. How do we know that?


Lyle Schaller, a prominent church observer, consultant, and church growth expert, has said, "Planting new churches is the closest thing we have to a guaranteed means of reaching more people with the good news." C. Peter Wagner, former professor of Church Growth at the School of World Mission at Fuller Seminary, has said much the same thing: "The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches." In all, new churches are about 30 times more effective in bringing new people into the kingdom than established churches (Robert Logan, Church Planter's Workbook, 1993). Why is that? What makes church planting so effective?

1. The "Cool" Factor. New things create buzz. People ask questions. They're naturally curious, especially if they hear this one might be different than other experiences they've had. They figure they might as well give it a try. This is true not only for churches, but practically anything. Ask any restaurant owner--it's easy for a restaurant to turn a profit in its first few months. What determines whether it has staying power or not is its ability to generate a strong enough corps of "regulars." When a restaurant is new, everyone wants to go check it out. A similar principle applies to churches.

2. Intentionality. People who plant new churches have done so because they have a deep desire to reach their community in a new and compelling way. They are united in focus and purpose, and everything in the body is organized around this one driving conviction--it is our job to reach our community for Christ. Casual, apathetic, half-hearted, uncommitted Christians don't join church plants (new churches, after all, require a great deal of work!), when there are already a dozen other churches they could attend that won't expect anything from them.

3. Necessity. New churches usually don't start with a large enough group to be self-sustaining. They may have some temporary funding from a denomination, a parent church, or a foundation, but at some point they have to sink or swim. They know that if they're going to swim, they have to bring in more people. Statistics show that people involved in planting a new church are more focused on bringing their friends and sharing their faith stories.

4. No Distractions. New churches aren't burdened down by red tape, traditions, or maintenance. There are no traditions, and there's nothing to maintain. No one argues about the color of the carpet because usually there IS no carpet! Many church plants meet in rented facilities. Without these other distractions, it's easy to aim every resource squarely at the mission--reaching the community.

5. Easy "Break-Ins". In church plants, it's easier for new people to walk in and be accepted... because everyone's a new person! With no pre-existing relationships, there are no cliques, no groups, no inside jokes. There's also a higher retention rate of new people because those who come early on in the church's life are the most committed; they can always say that they were there when...

It only makes sense... When churches can focus on their mission instead of other stuff, it makes them more effective at their mission.

According to Leith Anderson in A Church for the 21st Century, "new churches are the most effective means of evangelism [because] New churches are flexible, open to newcomers, entrepreneurial, outreaching, and not burdened with servicing old internal relationships and demands." Older churches "tend to become so burdened with budgets, buildings, and pastor and people problems that they no longer have the energy for outreach."

What can we conclude from all this? Simply this: Church planting works. It is FAR more effective for us to plant churches that will penetrate their communities than for us to try to build just this one church. We want to ignite a spiritual movement in Jackson County, something we could never do from one location.

Furthermore, we can expect any churches we plant to outpace us in size in just a few short years. They are naturally more effective. God blesses church planting. If we want to be on God's side, we should dive all the way into what He is blessing.

1 comment:

m rehberg said...

Just a reply to let you know that someone is reading.