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Anybody can plant a church!

By Steve Pike

In the last three years, Assemblies of God pastors have started more than 750 new churches in America. These churches have started in every imaginable setting, in every imaginable way, using increasingly creative ministry approaches. New churches are springing up in movie theatres, roller-skating rinks, community centers, rodeo arenas, coffeehouses and a host of other unexpected places.

Many people think church planting is only for a few specially gifted heroes who are called by God to go out alone and start new churches. But everyone can be involved in planting a new church. It’s not just for “professional” church planters.

Starting a new church involves the efforts of many supporting team members working together along with the lead planter. Prayer partners, financial friends, launch team members, greeters, kids ministry specialists, setup and teardown crews … the list goes on.

But wait! Do we really need more churches?

A lot of people never choose to involve themselves in the starting of a new church because of the perception that America already has enough churches. The facts say otherwise. Here are some reasons we need to plant more churches.

1. It’s how the Kingdom moves forward. Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples. They did. Their disciples made disciples. As those disciples multiplied, they formed communities of disciples called “churches.” The Book of Acts summarizes how the church expanded in this manner throughout the Middle East and into Europe via the establishment of new communities of disciples. During the time when the events described in Acts took place, the entire population of the planet was around 200 million people. As the disciples exponentially multiplied, it was said of them that they had “turned the world upside down.” We now live in a time when 200 million people are added to the population of the planet in about 2½ years. We need to reach them.

2. Churches can go through a life cycle. Churches are born, they grow, they reproduce. Unfortunately, some churches reach a point where they are no longer able to continue as a viable organization. Research by David Olson reveals that the average church started before 1990 is in decline, while the average church started since 1990 tends to be growing. Statistically, some of a church’s most vigorous years are its first 20.

However, many vibrant AG churches have served multiple generations within their communities and are celebrating 50, 75 and even 100 years of ministry. Church planters should have the goal of establishing even more churches that can thrive beyond 20 years. Good church planting strategies partner with these strong existing churches to reach even more people for Christ.

3. The inaccurate perception of the church in America. The human brain has a God-given gift that is a blessing most of the time, but can also cause us to have a skewed view of how many churches there are. Our brain has a “filter” that sorts out all the sights and sounds being received and enables us to focus on what we care about and ignore what is not important to us. As a result, if we love the church, we tend to see all the church buildings on any given street and it seems to us that the church is everywhere.

On the other hand, church buildings are almost invisible to people who don’t care for the church. As a result, the average believer overestimates the presence of the church in a given community and underestimates the urgency and opportunity for evangelism. Olson’s research reveals that, on average, only about 17 percent of Americans are actually attending a Sunday morning worship service on any given Sunday. New churches are needed to help reach the other 83 percent.

“But I’m not a church planter,” you might say. “How can I be involved in starting a church?”

Pray. Starting new churches requires a significant foundation of prayer. You can offer to provide prayer support for a church planter near you. If you don’t know a planter personally, you can visit to access a regularly updated prayer list for new churches starting all over America.

Give. Most new churches have some one-time start-up expenses you can help take care of. A great way to invest in planting in a sustainable way is to support the Perpetual Church Planting Fund available through the AG Trust. Visit for more information in the Spring 2009 newsletter posted there.

Go. Join a new church launch team and offer your gifts and passion directly. New church planters are constantly looking for team members to join them in the adventure of planting a new church that reaches lost people. Every talent, interest and gift is needed. You are a valuable asset that every church planter needs on his or her team! Visit to find a church plant you can be a resource for.

Everyone has a role to play in starting new churches. The Church Multiplication Network is here to help you find your place. Contact us at for more information.

STEVE PIKE is the director of the Church Multiplication Network.

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