Why Plant Churches
Do we really believe Luke 15:7? Do we really believe there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over 99 righteous people coming to church? That’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately as we’ve celebrated the launch of new churches this Fall. Oftentimes when we start a new church, the first question I ask the planter is, “How many people did you have on Launch Day?” While not a bad question, it seems like a question of secondary importance in light of what Jesus says in Luke 15:7.
So, which church would you say is more “successful” – the church that launches with 500 people with little or no conversion growth or the church that starts with 50 people, 10 of whom didn’t know Jesus before they encountered this new church?
Just to be clear, we have nothing against churches that launch large; we actually prefer that model. But only when these churches arise out of their efforts to engage the lost in their city as opposed to just offering Christians a better church experience.
We’ll admit this way of planting a church is difficult. It’s much easier to draw a crowd of Christians with an engaging worship experience than starting a church laser-focused on engaging the lost. If you build it – Christians will come, but if you focus on evangelism and disciple making, Christ will build His church.
This is why we’ve filled this month’s newsletter with resources to help you think about how you can start or lead a church that reduces the lostness of your city. Be warned: it won’t be easy, but the joy it produces will make it all worth it!
-Dale Spaulding, Director
October 2018 – Contents
- How Effective is Church Planting
- New Models
- Time to Change
- Prayer Team Strategy
How Effective is Church Planting
In Church Planting For A Greater Harvest Dr. Peter Wagner famously declared, “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.” We’re with Wagner on that one! We believe starting new churches is the best way to reach the lost, but this is only true when new churches start from evangelism not for evangelism.
All too often churches start with a core group of Christians that just end up attracting more Christians into their fold. They reshuffle the church deck in their city. However, churches that develop out of intentional evangelistic efforts often continue to grow from those same efforts for many years to come.
Why is this the case? Read Jeff Christopher’s How Evangelistically Effective is Church Planting to see why and gain some insights on how you can be more effective in disciple making.
When God instructed the Israelites to build the Tabernacle, he gave very specific details to Moses. He also gave him specific directions on how the Israelites were to worship him within it. He did this to show us that there is only one way to access God’s presence. While there is only one source of salvation, there are many ways to help people find and follow Jesus.
This is why all churches aren’t identical. Unlike the Tabernacle, God didn’t prescribe one model of church for all to follow. Communities of faith are all unique based upon the vision God’s given them in order to reach their community. This begs the question: what constitutes a church?
A network of micro churches anchored in Tampa, FL are revisioning what churches might look like in order to reach lost people. To learn how this network is reproducing and saturating their society with the gospel, watch Underground People, a 35-minute documentary, which showcases their story. It might just change the way you think about church and how your church reduces the lostness of your city.
Time to Change
Most churches say they want to reach lost people, but not as many are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do so. Like the patient who’s told by their doctor to “change or die” (i.e. quit smoking, change your diet, stop drinking), but refuses to change, so too many churches struggle to give up the habits that prevent them from reaching new people with the gospel. Sadly, and oftentimes unknowingly, they choose to die rather than change.
What sacrifices might your church need to make in order to help more people encounter Christ? Carey Nieuwhof offers eight suggestions in this blog post fittingly titled 7 Things Christians Should Give Up To Reach Unchurched People. Read the blog and consider what you or your church might need to surrender for the sake of its mission.
Prayer Team Strategy
In the book of Acts, we see Christians leaders like Paul flocking to cities throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches through evangelism. They didn’t have the luxury of starting with Christians because Christians didn’t exist yet in these cities. They had a tough job making disciples in these pagan cities. That’s why prayer played an integral part of Paul’s evangelism strategy. He solicited prayers from his friends in the city of Colossae saying, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.” Paul knew prayer was essential to disciple making and church planting.
How will you get people praying for your church’s evangelistic efforts? How will you develop an army of prayer warriors to shower your community with prayer? As someone famously once said, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle.” Don’t neglect this important step of establishing a prayer team for your church planting journey. Use our Prayer Team Strategy Template to help organize your team of prayer warriors.
Photos by Relentless Church, Scott Goodwill, Nikita Kachanovsky, Matt Botsford, and Joshua Hanks from Unsplash