We need more churches to reach more people with the glorious message that Jesus saves.
There will always be a need for new churches because there will always be a need for people to hear about Jesus and “nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting” (Keller).
What about existing churches?
Why not spend our energy and resources helping revitalize declining churches? Some of the existing churches that are in decline can be revitalized. Unfortunately, most cannot because of established forms, traditions, mindsets, cultures, etc. Some churches have simply completed their life cycle, but have been unwilling to acknowledge it because that would be too painful.
Dr. Tim Keller in “Why Plant Churches” gives this brief call to church planting:
“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for (1) the numerical growth of the body of Christ in a city and (2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city… This is an eyebrow-raising statement, but to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.”
Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from 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. New churches most effectively reach unchurched people.
The Biblical Mandate for Church Planting
Even more significant is the biblical mandate to plant churches. Jesus’ essential call was to plant churches. Keller explains the inherent call to church planting in the Great Commission which is made explicit in the Book of Acts:
“Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are basically calls to plant churches, not simply to share the faith. The ‘Great Commission’ (Matt. 28: 18-20) is not just a call to ‘make disciples’ but to ‘baptize’. In Acts and elsewhere, it is clear that baptism means incorporation into a worshiping community with accountability and boundaries (Acts 2:41-47).”
As a result, we believe church planting is the primary way to spread the gospel and make disciples for Jesus’ glory.