When two guys like Luke and myself (Ryan) come along and say, “We would like to plant a church,” we usually get one of two responses: “That’s a great idea! We need more churches!” OR “Why? We can’t fill the churches we already have.” First, let us share with you a few reasons for planting churches. Tim Keller has written an article that sums up the reason for church planting. You can read the article by clicking here, or read the quote below to get a good idea of what he has to say.
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, parachurch ministries, growing megachurches, 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. -Timothy Keller, Why Plant Churches?
Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) has recently launched an aggressive campaign to help plant 1,000 churches in America over 10 years. They have recognized the need to strengthen the efforts of planting churches in our own country as well as the rest of the world. Our country is a mission field and ABWE shares the same conviction Keller does: church planting is the most effective method for evangelism and discipleship.
Some Staggering Stats…
Before WWI there was one church for every 430 people in the US and church planting efforts were strong. Since WWI church planting in the US dropped dramatically and now there is an estimated one church for every 1,000 people. Interestingly, the influence of the church in America has followed the same trend. In 1916 53% of Americans attended a worship service. Today roughly 17% of Americans attend church.
Church planting is needed in the United States, now more than ever. Not only have the number of churches been in decline for over a century now, but also our culture has shifted. We need new churches that are willing to try new forms and methods to reach those without faith in Christ, all without compromising the message of the Gospel as recorded in Scripture.