What reasons would people need for starting a new church? According to Peter Wagner (1990): “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.” This oft-quoted phrase by the former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary preceded a growing number of books, articles, blogs and ministries dedicated toward church planting. Denominations and mission boards are investing much time, money and personnel into church planting. Networks of churches, like Stadia, ARC, Acts 29, New Thing Network and NAMB, have come together for the primary purpose of planting new churches. Why is there so much interest in church planting?
1. People need the Gospel.
New churches make disciples more proficiently than established churches (Matthew 28:16-20). Stuart Murray established the first accredited university church planting and evangelism degree in the United Kingdom. Murray believes that new churches draw converts and unchurched people into their congregations. He believes church planting is crucial to reaching people. Church plants reach different people groups. The Great Commission mandated that disciples were reached among all nations, not just the Galileans who were gathered. Church plants can reach a whole different demographic of people by strategically positioning ministries poised to serve the community in fresh and effective ways.
2. Communities need churches of reconciliation.
More education, more sports options, more parks, more community centers or more gun laws do not answer the brokenness in the community. The real need in a community is a reconciled relationship with God through Jesus. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace (Ephesians 2:13-15, ESV, emphasis added). David T. Olson said in his book, The American Church in Crisis, that every state in the U.S. has experienced a decline in church attendance percentage. Planting new churches is Olson’s main solution to this church attendance decline in America. He claimed that denominations needed to plant at least 2 percent of the total number in the denomination to keep pace with population growth (Olson, 2008). Olson warned that if the evangelical church wanted to survive, established churches “must courageously strive toward health and growth” and they must “actively plant new churches” while denominations support the local congregations in these essential church-planting endeavors (Olson, 2008).