I have to say that I really enjoy reading Kurt Willems’ blog over at Pangea. I have been reading it for the past couple of weeks and while I don’t necessarily agree with his perspective on some things, he gives you something to talk about.
Reasons for Planting Churches
Kurt is an Anabaptist and currently is preparing to be a church planter. Tuesday, he posted a list of reasons people plant churches which prompted me to reflect on my own place in the Kingdom. Here is the list of reasons that Kurt provided:
- To replace churches that have closed, leaving some areas under-churched
- To replace ineffective churches that are not engaged in mission to their community
- To penetrate society more effectively, planting churches closer to where people live
- To respond to population increases and demographic changes
- To relocate and redistribute Christians more strategically across society
- To release space in over-full buildings
- To provide new opportunities for service and leadership
- To release tension and head off damaging splits in churches
- To provide a wider range of churches and more options for connecting with people
- To offer opportunities to experiment and help the church adapt to a changing culture
- To enable targeted and specialized churches to be formed
- To act as a catalyst for denominations
Let me first say that this list is awesome. I love seeing new congregations planted and growing. I think planting new congregations is key to the growth of the Church as a whole, and it does help us deal with space, personality and demographic issues. We need people planting congregations, and there is no way we could ever have too many congregations.
My friend Steve planted The Dialogue Church back in 2007, just a couple miles away from where I was ministering at the time; and there were some of our mutual friends who were concerned that we might have some kind of competitive attitude toward each other. We were two tiny congregations in a city of over 100,000 people! We could plant another 1,000 churches in southern New Hampshire and still not be stepping on each other’s toes. Both my congregation and Steve’s could increase in size by FIFTY TIMES and we would still not be competing with each other.
During my first couple of years in ministry, I thought God was preparing me to plant a new congregation in Manchester, New Hampshire. We even started the seed of the plant, putting together a small crew of folks and starting the planning process; but God had other plans.
In 2004, he moved us from church planting to reinvigorating a church that had gone through some traumatic times. Our entire team joined Heritage Baptist Church in Hooksett, just north of Manchester. We worked as part of Heritage until 2010, when we brought our entire congregation down to Merrimack and merged with Grace Baptist Church to help them recover. Out of this process, Bedford Road Baptist Church was born – which is a living, growing testimony to God’s ability to resurrect struggling churches and give them new direction, vision and purpose.
Since then, we have also helped another
List of Reasons to Resurrect
So, here is my list of reasons to consider that God might be calling you to help resurrect an existing congregation rather than plant a new one. Some of them are serious and some of them – well, not so much.
- The Holy Spirit has not abandoned the people in struggling congregations.
- It is an embarrassing violation of God’s vision for the Gospel that churches fail.
- You will get to see people who are discouraged and frustrated receive the Joy of the Lord again.
- There’s a pretty good chance you will not be swelled with pride over your accomplishments because there’s ALWAYS more to do.
- You won’t have to worry about getting a building or giving people basic training. Odds are the existing congregation has both, but doesn’t know what to do with them.
- Human division is not bigger than divine direction, and anyone who really believes that is a liar who should get out of the ministry.
- Giving birth (a new church) can be considered a “natural” thing, but resurrection is NEVER considered normal.
- No one else is interested in doing it, so you’ve got plenty of opportunity!
All kidding aside, if we put as much emphasis on resurrecting churches as we do on planting them and approached the task with the same kind of energy and dedication, I think the net result of doing BOTH would be much greater than just emphasizing planting. The more resurrected churches there are, the more of a base there is for planting new ones.
Just some thoughts that came to mind.
Good post, Kurt!