The Top 10 Reasons To Plant New Churches Now
Updated: Mar 31, 2019
Some time ago, a pastor challenged my teaching during a seminar. He wasn’t happy that I was saying that churches should plant churches. He seemed convinced that giving birth to other churches would harm or destroy his church. It was an uncomfortable exchange right in the middle of the meeting.
Our church, New Song Parkside, meets in an elementary school that we rent. We’re not quite 1 year old yet we had had over 250 profess faith in Christ. Last month (July 2015) 52 were baptized in the ocean. (Note on the banner the word “church” is blanked out—the school district wouldn’t allow that word on our signs on school property!)
He isn’t alone. Many Christians around the world wonder why we need to plant new churches. It seems to them that there are too many churches that are struggling and the better approach is to help them. Why start new when the old needs reviving? (You can read the thought of one of these objectors in the comments at the bottom of my article 4 Reasons We MUST Start New Churches Now.)
In addition, they wonder if it is worth the costs, worth the effort, the best use of resources, the biggest priority and so on.
So, in response, here are my top 10 reasons to plant new churches now: (drum roll please)
You’d be hard pressed to find a place that has enough churches anywhere in the world. New churches are needed almost everywhere.
To demonstrate this for your own location, take the seating capacity of all the churches in your town or cities near you. Multiply it by 3 (since you might be able to use it for 3 services on a Sunday). What is the total? Very likely it is no where near the population of your city. From simply a seating capacity viewpoint new churches are needed.
Further, most existing churches are not reaching the lost. Research churches in the USA found that:
85% are plateaued or declining
10% are growing from biological or transfer growth
5% are growing because of conversions
As I’ve traveled around the world to 70 countries so far, this seems to be a common pattern.
Like it or not, and I do not, the reality is that churches usually eventually die. New churches must be planted to replace those that die out.
Talk to any denominational leader who will tell you how a significant portion of their role is to oversee the death and disposition of the assets of dying churches. Sad but reality.
Eventually every church will die. It may be a thousand or ten years and the end may be slow or come quickly. All church leaders need to ask themselves if there will be “daughter” churches and “granddaughter” churches, and even “great granddaughter” churches to carry on their legacy.
While existing churches tend to serve their existing constituents, new churches cannot serve their own constituency since they don’t have one. They must reach out and win the lost and the unchurched.
Who comes to new churches? Usually it is the lost and unchurched who are attracted to new churches. The churched by definition already have a church home. But the lost and unchurched are available and willing to go to a new church that doesn’t have all the amenities of existing churches since they don’t even know what they are missing.
It is scarier, harder and more intimidating for an unchurched person to come into an already established group than to one that is being newly formed. They may think:
I won’t be the only new person.I can be on the ground level of something new.These people are not stuck in a rut.
There have been many studies to see if the age of a church has an impact on how effective it is in reaching new people with the gospel. The Southern Baptist Convention did a study and stated that:
It takes 50 members to reach one unchurched person for Christ per year when a church is 50 years old.
Churches 10 years old take 7 members to reach one new person.
If the church is 1 year old it takes just 3 members to reach one person per year.
If we open our eyes, we see all kinds of people groups that are unreached in virtually every location of the world:
Different language groups
Different neighborhoods, towns, villages
Churches must be planted that speak the languages of the population, that connect with the culture, and that are near enough that people can travel to worship gatherings.
People who start new churches can’t say, “we never did it that way before.” New churches do not have a history that holds them back from innovation.
The apostle Paul wasn’t shackled by the past and the “never did it that way before” problem. He wrote: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22b)
New churches find outreach methods that work—they have to since their very survival depends on it.
What do mother churches get from daughter churches?
A renewed vision and ideas for reaching the lost
Fulfillment in fulfilling the Great Commission
Joy in pleasing the Lord
Church family legacy and continued fruitful labor
Dr. C. Peter Wagner, well known expert in evangelism, church growth and missions has written in Church Planting for a Greater Harvest:
“I begin this book with a categorical statement that will seem bold and brash to some at first sight, even though it has been well substantiated by research over the past two or three decades: The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”
Church Planting for a Greater Harvest, (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1990), p. 11.
When Jesus finished His work and ascended into heaven, he commissioned his disciples to spread the Gospel “to all nations.” (Matthew 28:19 KJV)
What did they do? To answer this question read “The Acts of the Apostles” and you will see that they went from town to town, preached the Gospel and planted churches. The result was that they “turned the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6 KJV)
What can turn the world upside down today? The same strategy—preaching the Gospel and planting churches.
We can wax philosophical and cite research, but the bottom line is individuals who are lost for eternity being brought into Christ’s Kingdom for eternity. These people have names, personalities and souls. They are individuals who matter to God.
Too often Christians are like folks who belong to a Lifesaving Station Club, which you can read about HERE.
There are all kinds of commendable ministries: Christian camping, mercy ministries, Christian schools, Christian radio and television, and so on.
But what did Jesus say? He said, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) Our priority must be Jesus priority: church planting.
Jesus said about Himself: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
This should be our mission as well. Jesus also said, “As the Father hath sent me, so send I you.” (John 20:21 KJV) The vehicle for doing so is to plant new churches. It is biblical and the way that the gospel spread during the New Testament times. Churches planted by the original apostles gave birth to other churches.
Jesus’ strategy for reaching the lost is to start new churches. Why would we not do what is most effective in pleasing Jesus and the strategy employed by the Apostles to “turn the world upside down?”