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Why Church Planting?

Why 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 any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. 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. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.

So, why is church planting so crucially important? Because...

We want to be true to THE BIBLICAL MANDATE

Jesus' essential call was to plant churches. 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 worshipping community with accountability and boundaries (cf. Acts 2:41-47). The only way to be truly sure you are increasing the number of Christians in a town is to increase the number of churches. Why? Much traditional evangelism aims to get a 'decision' for Christ. Experience, however, shows us that many of these 'decisions' disappear and never result in changed lives. Why? Many, many decisions are not really conversions, but often only the beginning of a journey of seeking God. (Other decisions are very definitely the moment of a 'new birth', but this differs from person to person.) Only a person who is being 'evangelized' in the context of an on-going worshipping and shepherding community can be sure of finally coming home into vital, saving faith. This is why a leading missiologist like C.Peter Wagner can say, "Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven."

Paul's whole strategy was to plant urban churches. The greatest missionary in history, St.Paul, had a rather simple, two-fold strategy. First, he went into the largest city of the region (cf. Acts 16:9,12), and second, he planted churches in each city (cf. Titus 1:5).

We want to be true to THE GREAT COMMISSION.

New churches best reach a) new generations, b) new residents, and c) new people groups. First, younger adults have always been disproportionately found in newer congregations, and second, new residents are almost always reached better by new congregations. Last, new socio-cultural groups in a community are always reached better by new congregations.

New churches best reach the unchurched--period. Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed 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.

We want to continually RENEW THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST.

It is a great mistake to think that we have to choose between church planting and church renewal. Strange as it may seem, the planting of new churches in a city is one of the very best ways to revitalize many older churches in the vicinity and renew the whole Body of Christ. Why?

First, the new churches bring new ideas to the whole Body. There is no better way to teach older congregations about new skills and methods for reaching new people groups than by planting new churches. It is the new churches that will have freedom to be innovative and they become the 'Research and Development' department for the whole Body in the city.

Second, new churches are one of the best ways to surface creative, strong leaders for the whole Body. New congregations attract a higher percentage of venturesome people who value creativity, risk, innovation and future orientation. Many of these men and women would never be attracted or compelled into significant ministry apart from the appearance of these new bodies.

Third, the new churches challenge other churches to self-examination. The "success" of new churches often challenges older congregations in general to evaluate themselves in substantial ways. Sometimes it is only in contrast with a new church that older churches can finally define their own vision, specialties, and identity.

Fourth, the new church may be an 'evangelistic feeder' for a whole community. The new church often produces many converts who end up in older churches for a variety of reasons. Ordinarily, the new churches of a city produce new people not only for themselves, but for the older bodies as well.

As an exercise in KINGDOM-MINDEDNESS

All in all, church planting helps an existing church the best when the new congregation is voluntarily 'birthed' by an older 'mother' congregation. Often the excitement and new leaders and new ministries and additional members and income 'washes back' into the mother church in various ways and strengthens and renews it. Our attitude to new church development is a test of whether our mindset is geared to our own institutional turf, or to the overall health and prosperity of the kingdom of God in the city.


New church planting is the only way that we can be sure we are going to increase the number of believers in a city and one of the best ways to renew the whole Body of Christ. The evidence for this statement is strong--Biblically, sociologically, and historically. In the end, a lack of kingdom-mindedness may simply blind us to all this evidence. We must beware of that.


*Adapted from an article written by Tim Keller, titled "Why Plant Churches". To download full-length article as a PDF, click HERE


Matt RingsMattR

on Aug 15, 2012 :: 8:32 pm

"Forgive me if this is the wrong place to post this, but I don't understand the need to plant so many churches in cities that have good churches. Why isn't anyone teaching folks to be leaders in reforming established churches with good doctrine instead of running and forming a new one?


on Aug 31, 2012 :: 7:49 am

What defines "good churches"? As hard as it is to plant churches, It's easier and more effective to plant churches then reform existing older churches.

Check out Keller's full article. It answers your question:


on Sep 21, 2013 :: 3:20 am

Great article


on Oct 1, 2013 :: 9:50 am

Awesome article, I love it. I want read more on this. God bless u


on Oct 23, 2013 :: 11:28 pm

I really appreciate this article. I am happy for church revitalization, and new churches being started, also for renewing the body of Christ in a city. I do have some minor disagreements. Jesus call was not primarily to plant churches. Matt 28:18-20 - the imperative is to "make disciples" and this phrase specifically is about making new disciples(evangelism). He specifically says "baptize them" the disciples you just made. It is clearly evangelistic disciple making. There are two things Jesus says to do with the disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything He commanded (this would include gathering in covenant communities upon baptism). I agree, forming new churches is a part of the process, but lets stop jumping ahead of the main imperative. When you look at the New Testament methods for church planting, we see Evangelism among the lost, resulting in new churches. Never in the new testament is the word "plant" ever used in starting churches (is it?). Rather "planting" is an agricultural term that the NT uses for Evangelism, sowing the seed of the gospel. (1 Cor 3:5-11). Lay the foundation of Christ among the lost and keep building upon it as they are baptized and observe Jesus' commands. Although, they are not unbiblical methods, as I do believe many different methods can be used to reach the lost, I believe these Launch attempts at church planting have a lot of negative results as well, especially when there is not a gospel focus in the DNA of the church plant. I praise the Lord for Acts 29, cause I know they value evangelism. I'm just not convinced that Peter Wagner's studies are the reason we should "plant churches". I recommend Roland Allen's book, "Missionary Methods, St. Paul's or Ours". Missionaries used the church planting approach that we use here in North America in the colonization era with lots of problems. We should try approaching NAmer. as a mission field - think like a missionary - plant the gospel among the unreached.


on Nov 14, 2013 :: 8:50 pm

Where did you get the stats on where new members comes from?


on Jul 26, 2014 :: 4:44 am

wonderful article for church planting. i like it.