In this 4 part series, we’re are considering the planting of new churches as a means of tackling the evangelism problem among Southern Baptist churches. Here are the following posts:
- Evangelism and Church Planting
- Church Planting as a Response to the Problem
- Church Planting and Revitalization
- Equip and Train Leaders
In Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson’s book Comeback Churches they retell the story of a dying church:
They contacted every missing member (hundreds were on the rolls but had not attended for some time). They implemented a churchwide prayer ministry. Finally, they decided to get directly involved in church planting . . . (p.98).
Many today wish to place church planting and church revitalization at odds with one another, arguing that with 70 to 75% of established SBC churches either plateaued or declining and efforts on church planting equals the abandonment of the established church. But is this true? What if the planting of new churches can actually bring revitalization to the established church?
Of the 324 churches the authors above studied in their book, they listed “intentional and strategic church evangelism” as one of the key factors for revitalization. Statistics demonstrate that planting new churches is an effective method of evangelism. If this is true and a key factor in church revitalization is evangelism, plateauing and declining churches should consider planting.
In his article Why Plant Churches, Tim Keller offers four reasons:
- New Ideas. Many congregations insist that all available resources should be used to find ways of helping existing churches reach them. However, there is no better way to teach older congregations about new skills and methods for reaching new people groups than by planting new churches.
- Creativity. In older congregations, leaders emphasize tradition, tenure, routine, and kinship ties. New congregations, on the other hand, attract a higher percentage of venturesome people who value creativity, risk, innovation and future orientation.
- Self-examination. Often the growth of the new congregation gives the older churches hope that ‘it can be done’, and may even bring about humility and repentance for defeatist and pessimistic attitudes. Sometimes, new congregations can partner with older churches to mount ministries that neither could do by themselves.
- Community Impact. The new church often produces many converts who end up in older churches for a variety of reasons.
When asked, in a 9 Marks article what contributes to the recovery of dying churches, JD Greear suggested to “create a sending culture.” While planting churches may not be the only way a church creates this kind of culture, it has been proven effective. With 75% of our SBC churches in need of some form of revitalization, something must be done. Maybe your church needs to consider church planting.