Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why Plant a Church?

There are many reasons why people plant new churches. Some reasons are noble, such as a desire to reach more people for Christ, to plant the Gospel in an under-churched area, or to serve a community that has been forgotten in the name of Christ. Some reasons are less noble, such as a desire to do it our way, an unwillingness to submit to existing structures, or to prove a point to someone that we can do it better than they could. If we are considering planting a new church, we must ask the Spirit to help us look deep into our hearts to determine if our motives are indeed honorable. If they are not, we need to ask the Spirit to change our motives. We should refrain from starting a new church until the Spirit has confirmed that our motives are right.

Dynamic Church Planting International suggests five good reasons for planting churches. I have listed those reasons below and added my own thoughts for why those reasons are valid.

1.   To follow the biblical strategy

Throughout the book of Acts we see that everywhere Christians went, they started new churches. This was the normal biblical pattern. Somehow we have lost that biblical pattern in our North American assumption that bigger is better. While we should thank God that some churches have grown quite large, that was not the normal expression for most churches in the New Testament. Most churches remained small, partially because they were constantly sending out groups to start new churches in nearby areas.

Some people say that we too many churches already. But statistics reveal that more churches close every year. Early in the 20th century, there was one church for every 430 Americans. At the start of the 21th century, there is one church for every 6,194 Americans. We are losing ground each year. Though we should try to help existing churches become stronger, ultimately, we must also start many new ones in order to reach our nation for Christ. This was, and remains, the biblical strategy.

2. To evangelize effectively

Christian Schwarz, author of Natural Church Development, surveyed over 1,000 churches from 32 countries and 6 continents. He discovered that small churches, which he defined as those that average 51 in attendance, were 16 times more effective in winning new converts to Christ than megachurches. Schwarz did not mean that as an attack on mega-churches. It was simply the facts that came out of his research. The reality is that one church cannot reach everyone.

Rick Warren says in one of his books, "It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people." This is obviously true when people speak different languages. They need a church in their own language. But even when the same language is spoken, there are incredible differences in culture among various groups.

Consider the differences in how generations worship. Congregations that are effective in reaching baby boomers are often not as effective reaching Generation X. This is because sermons about marriage and raising kids, which speak powerfully to baby boomers, do not relate to single, young people. Likewise, churches that speak into the hearts of single, young adults, may not adequately prepare senior adults for the changes they can expect as they retire or become grandparents. New churches need to be started to reach every segment of society.

Some say that instead of church planting, we should teach established churches to do a better job of evangelizing. Yes, we should definitely try to do that, but Tim Keller says that Dozens of studies confirm 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.” If we want to evangelize effectively, we must start new churches.

3. To gather in the harvest

Surveys and research has shown that our culture views the church as largely out of touch, old-fashioned, insensitive and even hateful or bigoted. Though this may not be a true description of the church, most of us would admit that many churches feel closed to outsiders. Cliques often form and it can be very difficult for a new person to ever really feel accepted in an established church. Because of this, even when a person decides to become a Christian, they may remain outside of established churches. If we are to gather in the harvest, we must start new churches.

Many people who are being saved through Christian radio or television, or through one on one witnessing from friends, are not being gathered into a church. We need new churches that have a more open feel to them to reach these people. We need churches that can use innovative and culturally-relevant methods to reach our culture while retaining a strong, Bible-centered gospel message. This will allow us to gather in all of those who are coming to Christ from a variety of ways.

4. To reach people groups

The diversity of harvest requires a diversity of churches to make disciples of all people groups. Though there may be many churches that effectively reach whatever the “majority culture” is in the community, there are many sub-cultures that do not fit in those churches. As previously mentioned, languages groups feel more comfortable learning the Bible in their own language.  But it is not just language, culture or ethnicity that separates people. Social economic issues separate people as well. While all churches should welcome everyone to their groups, sometimes they do not. And even if a church welcomes everyone, not everyone feels welcome.  New churches can be started for all these various groups.

5. To fulfill the Great Commission

Jesus told us to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel, baptizing people who accept Christ and then teaching them to obey the Word of God. How can one church, no matter how larger or strong accomplish that command? It cannot. The Great Commission can only be started when many new churches are started around our community and around our world. If we want to obey the last command Jesus gave us, we must start new churches.

Interested in starting churches? Go to and click the “Mobilize Me” button. If you are interested in partnering with a church plant in Connecticut, just send me an email at