Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Still Believe in Church Planting

I have come full circle on North American church planting. I became a passionate supporter of church planting during my M.Div. studies and upon graduation, moved to a rural town to plant a church (which we did). I returned to Southern for Ph.D. studies with a bent toward church planting. In the middle of my doctoral studies, I became a bit disenchanted by the trendiness of it all. Yet, upon further reflection, I continue to see the importance and need for new churches and will continue to be an advocate for church planting here at home. I agree that there is ministry to be done in existing churches. I also am a strong advocate partnership and support for international missions. Here, however, are a few reasons I believe that churches should be involved in planting new churches in North America:

1. The population of the United States continues to grow at a pace that is continually increasing the church/population ratio. There is a need for new churches because the number of persons in the US continues to grow. At the same time, reports indicate that attendance in mainline and Catholic churches is steadily declining, and a large number of these persons remain unchurched.

2. Population shifts and development are seeing new communities emerging where there are few if any existing churches. New churches are needed to fill the gap.

3. The number of immigrants continues to grow. There is a need for churches to reach these rapidly growing ethnic populations.

4. Not all existing churches are willing and/or able to make the contextual and methodological changes necessary to reach our culture with the gospel. (Other churches are “unhealthy” and are unwilling to reform.) New churches often have a freedom and flexibility that established churches do not.

There are many more arguments in support of church planting. These are a few that I find compelling.

Author’s Note: This post was first written as a comment to a blog post entitled “Churches that Don’t Plant Churches” by a fellow PhD student at Southern.


James said...

Your post made me think about how many of our local churches were established and supported by other established churches in this city and others nearby.

Perhaps we get too focused on growing our churches in numbers instead of spreading ourselves out to reach a wider area?

Something to think about.

James said...

by numbers, I meant membership numbers.