by Ed Stetzer
1. To Reach Lost People
Church planting reaches lost people. The first reason is simple. It’s one on which, hopefully, all pastors—both planters and established pastors—can agree. Lost people need Jesus. This is one that hits me personally because I grew up in a non-Christian family. Most of my extended family members are not believers. Recently, however, two of my family members have met Christ through church plants. Their experience is not uncommon.
A few years ago, Christianity Today published “Go and Plant Churches of All Peoples,” an article which said church planting has replaced crusade evangelism as the preferred evangelistic method for evangelicals in North America today. Church planting has experienced so much growth that in some cases it’s harder to find people who want to revitalize churches because so many want to plant. Some of the attraction might be from the entrepreneurial bent in people, but the greatest driving force I see among church planters is that they want to see people won to Jesus.
We would challenge established church pastors to mother a church plant. You’ll see that people will be won to Jesus in the churches you plant and in your church. Some that may be less receptive to your church will be receptive to your plant. That’s why we want to plant churches that plant churches that plant churches.
2. To Follow a Biblical Pattern
Church planting follows a biblical pattern. When we look throughout the New Testament, we see church planting as an established pattern. We will be the first to tell you the Bible never mentions church planting. It never comes out and says, “Plant churches,” but it’s clearly assumed. It’s the first thing the disciples did when they responded to the commissions of Jesus. They planted churches. Most of the churches recorded in the New Testament were involved in sending people in some form or another to start other churches. Ironically, the Jerusalem church was an exception. They sent people out to check up on the new churches and to make sure they weren’t getting too crazy.
We’ve got too many Jerusalem churches today. The only time a new church hears from them is when they believe someone is doing something wrong. We’ve got to change that truth. Church planting is an overwhelmingly biblical passion, and we need to support it. Every church started at some point. Let’s model that spirit again and start more churches.
3. To Ensure Church Survival
Church planting is essential for survival. For any Christian movement to thrive, it has to plant churches. Statistically speaking, if a denomination or network just wants to “break even,” it has to plant at least at a 3-percent level; a denomination of one hundred churches has to plant three to stay even considering attrition. A 5 percent increase is needed to grow. Ten percent is needed to thrive. If we honestly believe our movement is the place to land theologically, then we need to support it by planting churches.
4. To Benefit the Planting Church
Church planting benefits the planting church. Jeff Farmer did his PhD dissertation on how church planting impacts mother churches. He studied seventy- five churches of different sizes that were planting churches and compared them with seventy-five that were not. Comparing churches of similar sizes and backgrounds, he found churches that were planting churches were healthier than those that did not.
Furthermore, in the recent State of Church Planting in the U.S. 2015 report that LifeWay Research did with NewChurches.com, we discovered that churches who planted a daughter church within their first three and five years actually experienced a higher average worship attendance, year over year, than those who did not. The same goes for churches who financially contributed to other church plants, and churches whose leaders invested in other leaders of new churches. Each of these multiplication oriented activities correlated with higher worship attendance in the planting mother church year over year.
We believe that churches that plant become healthier in the process. When people hear stories of life change at the new church, they start to see their community differently. Maybe it could happen here, too, they think. The rising tide of church planting lifts boats all along the way.
5. To Reach the Western World
Church planting is necessary to reach the Western world. If we’re going to reach the West for the gospel, thousands upon thousands of more churches are needed. The West is huge geographically, but even more than that, it’s incredibly diverse culturally. Too many people look across countries like the US and Australia and think they are uniformly flat like a pancake. Look closer. They are not like a pancake. They are more like a waffle. In Western countries thousands of little divots have people living in them who have customs, cultures, and contexts that are vastly different from one another. Jesus is calling us to go into all those divots of the waffles to evangelize and, if there’s enough of a population, to plant churches in those divots that will plant churches that plant churches.
6. To Develop New Leaders
One crucial imperative of new churches is leadership development. When new congregations demonstrate this capacity, leaders often arise at a more rapid pace than in older churches. The appearance of new leaders may actually outpace the new church’s needs. As new leaders find fulfillment in their Spirit-anointed ministries, they often become dissatisfied with just occasional opportunities to serve.
If a new church develops several worship teams who alternate in leading, one team might receive the church’s blessing in becoming leaders for a daughter church start. Each team—both those who leave and those who stay—would have the opportunity to lead worship more than occasionally during the month.
This type of situation allows leaders to continue to develop their abilities. Many pastors and planters testify that as their churches have commissioned leaders and sent them out, God has replaced those leaders and allowed even more people to become involved in the leadership core of the church.
7. To See the Kingdom Grow
A maturing kingdom awareness is more important than a local church mentality. Church leaders need to look beyond their local churches. Leaders who are unwilling to make organizational sacrifices for the benefit of the kingdom are stunted in growth and immature in understanding God’s larger purpose. When congregations initiate daughter churches, God’s purposes are accomplished more effectively than when churches conserve resources in order to optimize local organizational strength and vitality.
8. To Transmit a Lasting Legacy
Another reason for sponsoring new churches may be termed “the family legacy.” Enduring families manifest a family heritage, a noble tradition passed from one generation to the next. This awareness of their family heritage creates excitement and energy for each new generation.
The same claim may be made for churches. Daughter churches can look with feelings of contentment upon their parentage in the faith. Their legacy lends strength to these churches, enabling them to feel more thoroughly rooted and grounded in history.
Sponsoring churches also become excited as they see God’s people multiply and God’s kingdom grow because they’re passing along their heritage to a new generation of churches. The excitement swells as these new-generation churches initiate their own daughter congregations. Sponsoring churches experience a kind of divine honor reserved for those who enable the success of their children, for they know they played an important role in that success.
9. To Glorify God
Although many people in a community may never attend your new church start, your presence represents the presence and the power of God to a community. God proclaims who he is as his people establish new churches. New churches are great testimony to a great God!
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