Should churches plant new churches? In addition to the fact that it’s how the gospel grew in the NT and all through history, here are 7 key reasons why churches should aim to plant new ones, and why Grace is starting to do so:
1) New Churches reach new people. Studies have shown that churches younger than 3 years old reach 300% more non-believers than churches older than 15 years. Plus, surveys showing the “rise of the nones” (i.e., upwards of 25% of Americans not affiliated with any religion) demonstrate a whole bunch of people who are not coming to current churches. New churches reach new people.
2) People Need People in all of life. It’s cliche that “life is a team sport”, but it’s true. First, New converts to Christ need a family, a hospital, a nursery… just as assuredly as a newborn baby does. A church is that family, nursery, hospital. Second, Ongoing disciples need each other to grow as God intends. “Churchless Christianity” is not part of the Scriptural vision of following Christ. Believers in real relationship is where grace grows. Third, the Lost are hungry for community, and the church is filled with it. “People need people in all of life”… so let’s plant more local bodies.
3) Exponential Potential. A church that grows from 300 to 1000 in ten years is a great thing. But, if over those same ten years, that church planted every 18 months, and each of the plants did to, you’d have 64 churches in 6 cycles… each with several hundred. If you run it out to ten planting cycles, you find 1,000 churches (not just 1,000 people in our church). Growth at one location is straight-line growth. Growth that establishes new locations is exponential!
4) It “forces” God to raise up leaders. If it takes 100 leaders to keep Grace Fellowship moving, then it would take 100,000 leaders to keep those 1,000 churches moving! Same exponential potential. Moreover, the more leaders the more people are relying on God’s Spirit and power to work in their lives. As you step out to lead for Christ, he pours himself into you more and more.
5) More people grow more in lean/young churches. As there are new church plants, new people (not even leaders, necessarily) step up to pitch in, help out, and jump on a team. They take a chance on new things because there’s a ‘pioneer’ spirit that says, just try it! In established or larger churches, there seem to be more people who are timid to jump in or would rather simply stay in the ‘back row’ and receive. That’s not a knock on the larger church; it’s an observation of human nature. Instead of 20% of the people doing 80% of the work, a new or small church has a “pitch in and let’s see waht happens” atmosphere. More people grow more in lean/young churches.
6) The US church is no longer a chaplain, it’s a mission force. If there was a time when the US was a “Christian” culture, then the church’s role was often to hold culture’s hand, and help it along. They would look to foreign fields to do missions… among the pagans who don’t know of Jesus. Well, increasingly the pagans who don’t know of Jesus are our neighbors and people in this country! The “missions” calling now includes our own communities. We are no longer chaplains, but missionaries at home. Let’s start reaching out like missionaries.
7) Grace Fellowship’s DNA is primed to plant churches. We prize authenticity in relationships centered on Christ. Our HouseChurch model means we have ten leadership laboratories and a decentralized, agile structure. We are a body that practices sacrificial discipleship, consistently giving and serving and pouring out for others. We have a leadership culture at Grace–so many gifted leaders in the community, in business, in the professions, in academics, and in ministry. And, we have a missions heart, given to us by God. Why do you think? so we would be burdened wherever we’d find a mission field.
God is on the move… in Grace, in the world, in this country, and in our own mission strategy and ministry vision. I can’t wait to watch God raise up, train up and send out church planters over the next decade. To reach countless thousands for the gospel.