Post by Pastor Rob Mayer - Lead Pastor of Gospel Life Church

Post by Pastor Rob Mayer - Lead Pastor of Gospel Life Church

The question I’ve been asked most frequently this past year is,

“Why are you planting a church? There are already a bunch of churches and those aren’t full, so why plant another one?”

To be honest, I used to struggle with this one a bit. When asked, I would get a bit uncomfortable, get a little defensive and feel like I had to convince people of something I KNEW God had told me to do. Although the question brought frustration, I am very glad they asked. It forced me to dig deep into the Word of God and in doing that, not only did I find solid answers, I more deeply encountered God’s heart to rescue and redeem his children. I also was humbled by his grace and mercy and as a result, I became more convinced than ever in my call to plant Gospel Life Church.

Here Are A Couple Reasons We Planted Gospel Life Church:

Reason #1 - We wanted 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 (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. 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."

Reason #2 - We wanted to be faithful to THE GREAT COMMISSION.

New churches best reach new generations, new residents, and new people groups.

First, historically younger adults are more attracted to newer congregations. Long-established congregations develop traditions (such as time of worship, length of service, emotional responsiveness, sermon topics, leadership-style, emotional atmosphere, and thousands of other tiny customs and moirés), which reflect the sensibilities of long-time leaders from the older generations who have the influence and money to control the church life. This does not reach younger generations. Second, new residents are almost always reached better by new congregations. In older congregations, it may require tenure of 10 years before you are allowed into places of leadership and influence, but in a new church, new residents tend to have equal power with long-time area residents.  Third, new socio-cultural groups in a community are always reached better by new congregations. For example, if new white-collar commuters move into an area where the older residents were farmers, it is likely that a new church will be more receptive to the numerous needs of the new residents, while the older churches will continue to be oriented to the original social group. 

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. [1]  This means that the average new congregation will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.

So why all the friction?

Statistics reveal that new churches, draw most of their new members from the ranks of the unchurched, but they will always attract some people out of existing churches. This is inevitable and this is where the friction comes from. At this point, the existing churches, in a sense, have a question posed to them:

"Are we going to rejoice in the new people that the Kingdom has gained through this new church, or are we going to lament and resent the three families we lost to it?"

In other words, the attitude toward a new church plant is a test of whether our mindset is geared toward our own “kingdom”, or to the overall health and prosperity of the Kingdom of God in the greater community. Any church that is more upset by their own small losses rather than the expansion of God’s Kingdom is working against the King and needs a heart check.

Church Planting challenges the KINGDOM MINDSET.

The reality is that most people in our community (around 90%) do not have any church affiliation or want one. That means that if churches are “fighting over” the 10%, they clearly have become more concerned about their own kingdom rather than the Kingdom of God! I am convinced that the Church needs get her eyes back on Jesus Christ who is passionate about seeking and saving the lost, which is most effectively achieved by planting churches. The amazing part is that He has chosen to use people like us to join him in his miraculous mission to bring healing and restoration to a lost and hurting world. Therefore, we need to check our hearts, get out of our comfort zones and join God in what he is doing. We serve a God who passionately has and is continuing to pursue sinners for salvation. Church planting is not only a biblical mandate and an effective evangelistic strategy, it also will realign the heart’s of Christians and consequently bring the Church back to relevance in a culture that is searching for meaning and truth, both of which are found in the people of God.

 

[1] Lyle Schaller, quoted in D.McGavran and G.Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies that Work (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980), p. 100. See C.Kirk Hadaway, New Churches and Church Growth in the Southern Baptist Convention (Nashville: Broadman, 1987).   

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