Mark Alan Williams
4 Reasons We MUST Start New Churches Now
On the way to church recently Carolyn and I passed a street corner with a sandwich sign inviting people to come to a new church and pointing them in the right direction. It reminded me of one of the reasons we need to start new churches.
This is from 1981 in our first church plant meeting in a home. Gabriel was born just weeks later, so we did a child dedication.
I turned to Carolyn and said, “You know, any church could do signs like that. But it seems to never be long established churches that have signs on street corners inviting the community to come. It is always NEW churches. Why do you think that is?”
Carolyn responded, “I think it is because new churches are so hungry to reach lost people and grow.” I agreed.
It was just one example of the fact that as churches grow older and more established, they typically lose their evangelistic passion and outreach orientation.
New churches are not necessarily godlier. There is a practical motivation: they must grow or die. Typically they start with a handful of people. If they don’t reach more people for Christ, they don’t survive infancy.
As a former church planter I can attest that as my church plant became more established, the care for the existing church began to take more and more of my time. Outreach was forced onto the back burner—at least that is the way it seemed.
So, here are four reasons we must start new churches:
1) Focus on Outreach
As illustrated about above, new churches tend to focus on reaching unchurched people, while long established churches focus mostly on their constituents. Certainly there are exceptions to this, but it is common.
2) Birth is Easier than Resuscitation
Some might argue that what we really need to do is to convince existing churches to focus on outreach. After all, they have the resources: the buildings, the money, the programs and so on.
While this might seem ideal, there are often inherent problems. One major issue is that the practices of the church often limit outreach: outdated buildings, sermons that are incomprehensible to non-Christians, church cliques, and so on.
Furthermore, some churches are dying. Anyone can see that their best days are behind them: the facility is run down, the congregation is dwindling, and they have an atmosphere of decline. Most people don’t want to affiliate with a dying organization.
This has led many to conclude that, “It is easier to birth baby churches than it is to raise dead ones!”
Jesus affirmed this concept when he stated: “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. The wine would swell and burst the old skins. Then the wine would be lost, and the skins would be ruined. New wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22 CEV)
3) To Replace Dying Churches
Each year thousands of congregations cease to exist. They die.
This is because the church is fundamentally a living organism and death is part of the life cycle. It is not necessarily because of undedicated people, poor leadership or bad mistakes, although these may hasten the demise.
Often it is simply the result of shifting demographics, or of an aging congregation, or of a lack of innovation. In short: aging.
New churches must be planted to replace those which have died.
Any denominational superintendent will testify to this fact. Working on a regional level, they see the many churches that pass away. They preside over many church funerals. They see the numbers of churches in their district decline UNLESS they start new churches to replace them.
4) To Reach a Growing Population and New Areas
There is an even more compelling reason to plant new churches: to reach new areas, a growing population, and in some parts of the world, people who have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ.
Recently I spent a few days in Temecula, California. It is a booming growth area. When I first visited there about 35 years ago, there was virtually nothing there. Carolyn’s dad used to tell her that someday it would be huge. Today we look and say, “Wow, he was right.” Back then however, it just seemed like a Podunk town that would never amount to much.
In another 10, 20, 30, 40 years there will be many more areas like Temecula. We must start new churches to reach those areas.
Your part in church planting:
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) But He uses people as to build with Him.
If you are convinced they are needed, what can you do to help start new churches? Here are three suggestions:
Become part of the start-up team for a new church. Carolyn and I are currently on the Launch Team for a new church starting here in Oceanside, California.
Pray for church planting. For example, you can pray for my ministry with Dynamic Church Planting International: Click HERE to receive my “Cybersaints” prayer update emails.
Financially support church planting. For example, you can support my ministry with DCPI HERE