5 reasons church planting is crucial for us to pursue in the church today.
We face an interesting time in our history: Both the supply of churches and the demand for them seems to be decreasing. Never has there been a greater need for more churches than right now. Considering this context, let me share with you five reasons why church planting is crucial today.
1. Because the Gospel Is Important
In his book, Church Planting for a Greater Harvest, C. Peter Wagner wrote: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”<sup>1</sup> Now, over 30 years later, I wonder if that statement is still true. One statement I do know is still absolutely true today is found in Ephesians 3:8–11:
“This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. This is according to his eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s plan has always been to display the gospel through his church. Our Christology should focus our ecclesiology, which in turn should fuel our missiology. Planting the gospel in communities will result in new churches being planted.
2. Because People Are Important
According to Lifeway Research estimates, “In 2019, approximately 3,000 Protestant churches were started in the U.S., but 4,500 Protestant churches closed”<sup>2</sup> Just five years prior to that study, the estimates differed dramatically: “For 2014, an estimated 4,000 Protestant churches were planted, while 3,700 closed in a year.”<sup>3</sup> The number of churches in America is declining at the same time that our population is increasing and becoming more and more distant from the truth of the gospel. We need existing churches to be strengthened and, at the same time, be aggressively planting new churches. I am reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 9:36–38:
“When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’”
3. Because the Great Commission Is Important
“Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” —Matthew 28:18–20
Church planting is important because community is important to the Great Commission. Church planting is not just about evangelism; it’s also about discipleship. And discipleship is best fostered within the context of community. A group of baptized believers learning and practicing the commands of Jesus—and multiplying those groups to the end of the age—is what we have been commanded to do. We need local communities where disciples can be obedient to carry out this Great Commission. Disciples make disciples that plant churches that plant churches.
4. Because the Bible Is Important
The first question to ask is not whether church planting is pragmatically the best way to advance the gospel and accomplish the Great Commission, but rather, “Is it biblical?” Church planting is important because God’s way of accomplishing God’s work is better than your way. One of the best ways we see this in Scripture is the example of the church at Antioch in Acts 11. Here we see the gospel planted in a community by a team from Cyprus and Cyrene that results in a church where they are first called Christians. Then in Acts 13:2–3, we read:
“As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.”
One year after this church started in Antioch, they were led by the Holy Spirit to send out a team to plant more churches. Church planting is a biblical idea that should be practiced and followed still today.
5. Because the Time Is Important
Never will it be easier to share the gospel than it is right now. Planting the gospel and starting new churches will only get increasingly more difficult in the days ahead. This reminds me of the encouragement found in Hebrews 10:24–25:
“And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Before Jesus comes, the church must be actively involved in encouraging one another and stirring each other up. The best environment to accomplish that is through the local church. We need the context of the “one another” passages of the New Testament, multiplied aggressively, as we get closer and closer to Jesus returning for his bride.
My prayer is that we will understand the great need for the gospel in our communities. I pray as a result of the gospel proclaimed and lived out that we will see many more churches started.
Church planting isn’t just important; it’s essential.
This article originally appeared on NewChurches.com and is reposted here by permission.
1. C. Peter Wagner, “Church Planting for a Greater Harvest. (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990), 11.
2. Aaron Earls, “Protestant Church Closures Outpace Openings in U.S.,” Lifeway Research, May 26, 2021, https://lifewayresearch.com/2021/05/25/protestant-church-closures-outpace-openings-in-u-s/.