Every once-in-a-while I get the question, “Why should we plant new churches?” Here are some of the answers I have given over time:
1. Church planting is Biblical
It’s the New Testament way of extending the gospel. Trace the expansion of the Church through Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth and you’ll see that church planters led the way. This is a Kingdom activity, strongly endorsed by God our King. What is the command? What is the promise? “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
2. Each new generation must be evangelized on its own terms
The basic principle is: God has no grandchildren. While parents strongly influence their children toward Jesus Christ, no child is automatically saved just because the parents are. In our world, culture change is an accepted fact of life. We no longer live in a society of rural village culture where the expectation was that when the grandchildren grew up their lives and life-styles would be almost identical to those of the grandparents. One of the immediate implications of rapid culture change is that many members of the new generation will not be won to Christ in their parent’s churches.
3. Planting churches develops new ministry leadership
In almost any given community there are some Christians who have not been growing in their spiritual lives and who are not particularly contributing to the Kingdom of God simply because they do not fit in to their present church situation and are therefore unable to serve in ministry.
In numerous cases new churches in the community have provided just what many people needed. Where is the best place to be? (Where He calls us). What will God do in us and through us in that place? (Prepare us and use us to strengthen and multiply the number of His churches)
“The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter…So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers…When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas…After Paul had seen a vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 15:30-35; 16:5-10).
If you had the guarantee that you could not fail, what would you attempt for God? What are some ways you would like to see God use you?
4. Even where there are many sheepfolds; there are still many lost or wandering sheep
God’s will for these sheep is clear: God wants His lost sheep found. Does that mean His will is that every person on the earth be saved? God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s priority is on the lost sheep even more than on those that have been found.
Jesus’ parable tells us that the shepherd who has 100 sheep and finds only 99 who are safe leaves the 99 and searches for the lost one until it is found. What does the shepherd do when the one is found? What goes on in heaven when the one is found?
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:3-7).
Some of the lost or wandering sheep can and will be won into existing churches. But many of them cannot and will not. For them, we need new churches. And the more harvest God gives us, the more barns and silos and grain elevators are needed. The more evangelical churches located in an area, the greater the visibility of the gospel.
It’s easy to see this “saturation principle” at work in the marketing technique of those who make their living selling hamburgers. In any given community there will be several of the same chain! Franchise executives know that the best way to meet – and saturate – a community’s need for burgers is to build multiple sites, not to continually enlarge the mother store. In any geographical area, the Christian community will grow or decline according to the degree of effort given to planting new churches.