Christians in the United States have long supported church planting in other countries, but when it comes to our own soil, we often look around and say, “There’s a church and there’s a church and there’s a church… Why do we need another?”
But there are many reasons we need to embrace this new wave of North American evangelism. Here are a few Tim Keller sites in his book Center Church, and in this article:
- Church planting is the biblical model. That’s how the early church got its start! Paul and the other early missionaries traveled all across Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, sharing the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches. In turn, those disciples made new disciples, and those churches planted new churches. When you trace it back, that’s how the Great Commission was put into action!
- Church planting is the best way to reach new people. Keller says, “Younger adults have always been disproportionately found in newer congregations,” “new residents are almost always reached better by new congregations,” and new people groups (defined by soci0economics or ethnicity) that move into an area are more effectively reached by new churches that begin with an inclusive mindset. Most notably, new churches are the best way to reach unchurched people. Keller shares that “the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. This means that the average new congregation will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.”
- Church planting can revitalize the entire body of Christ in the region. Church planting doesn’t take away from the other churches in the area as much as it helps them fulfill their purpose. Church plants draw new ideas, build new leaders, help older churches reevaluate themselves, and even evangelize some new believers who end up in other congregations. When older churches help new churches get on their feet, they’re pumping some much-needed energy into their own veins, as well.
Armed with this knowledge, it’s time for American Christians to stop complaining about how messed up our country is (and our churches are) and start investing in the strategy that’s going to saturate it with the gospel: church planting.
I’ll be honest– for a long time I was skeptical of anyone launching a new church, because my only real experience of that was a result of church split. But when I started to realize that new churches can be started in a healthy way, with the support of existing churches, I changed my mind. In fact, now I have to check myself for being overly critical of churches that aren’t supporting church planting in some way.
All churches started out as church plants. This seemingly obvious fact hit me when I was researching the history of my home church, which started as a mission of another church to reach people in a certain community way back in 1892. We’re all cut from the same cloth. And though there might be plenty of solid, gospel-centered churches in your proximity, there are thousands of pockets of people in this country that are in desperate need of a healthy church to come to them.
Decatur, Georgia is one of those places. Part of the Atlanta metro area, more urban than suburban, this region’s population is the epitome of density and diversity. It’s also yearning for the body of Christ to come in and show it what the gospel really means. That’s why Blueprint Church is planting a new campus in Decatur.
I’m part of this initiative, so I can tell you it’s on the up-and-up. We’re going in strategically, prayerfully, optimistically. There are plenty of obstacles, but there’s also promising movement of the Spirit. We launch in January 2014, and we’re so excited to follow Jesus at every turn and make disciples in Decatur.
But church planting isn’t cheap. They don’t already have large bases of members to give to meet their financial needs. And that’s one reason church plants need the support of already-established churches, as well as other individual believers. We have to come together to make it happen.
Blueprint’s having a fundraising campaign right now. A lot is going on in our church– there’s the Decatur plant, plus the main church is moving to a different location, and it’s still a new church itself, so we’re working to function more effectively for the kingdom of God. Half of the money we raise in this campaign is going to the Decatur campus. To learn more and find out how to donate, visit this website.
If you want to know more about the Decatur church plant, or chat about church planting in general, feel free to contact me!