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
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
www.churchmultiplication.net 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 www.agtrust.org for more information in the Spring 2009 newsletter
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 www.findnewchurch.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
STEVE PIKE is the director of the Church Multiplication
E-mail your comments to email@example.com.