“The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” – Acts 13:2-3
We are a church planting church. That means that a tremendous amount of our efforts and resources goes into the establishment of new churches and the raising up of pastors and church planters. We preach and pray toward the goal of sending out our very best members and resources to plant new churches.
“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the: 1) numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and the 2) continual, corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else – not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes – will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.” (Tim Keller)
Below are six church planting truths that compel us to continually start new churches.
- Jesus sent out church planters and calls us to do the same.
- Church planting success is measured by our sending capacity rather than our seating capacity.
- Growth through multiplication is always more effective than growth through addition.
- New churches grow faster than older ones.
- Every year in America 3,500 churches close forever.
- New churches require new leaders.
There are three fundamental beliefs about church planting that guide us as we plant new churches and train new church planters.
Theology Trumps Methodology
We believe that too much training in methodology and not enough training in theology can be detrimental to the church planter. We operate with a fundamental belief that the more theologically grounded we are, the better planters we are. This is not to say that methodology does not play a role in church planting, but that the best church planting methodology flows from Biblical theology.
Churches Plant Churches
We think that the local church is the means by which God will expand His kingdom. Para-church organizations are tremendous resources for the church planter and should be utilized to the extent that they are helpful. However, these organizations should never replace the local church as the central authority in the church planting process.
Overgrowth is Undergrowth
Fidelity to Christ is the goal of the church-not growth. We seek to plant churches that view the luring work of the Holy Spirit as the only hope for church growth. Additionally, it is best that a steady stream of equipped saints disperse from every local church to spread the gospel to places where Christ is not yet known.
Church Planting Foundation
The Antioch Church
“The founding of the Antioch church may be the most important movement in church planting history. Antioch would send missionaries throughout the world. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit the Antioch church became the first great missionary sending church (Acts 13:3).[T]he Antioch congregation reached the world by becoming the first church planting church.”
– Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches, p. 50.
“The Christian Church was designed from the first to be [intentional]. It was not intended to remain stationary at any period, but to advance onward until its boundaries became commensurate with those of the world. It was to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria until the uttermost arts of the earth. It was not intended to radiate from one central point only; but to form numerous centers from which its influence might spread to the surrounding parts… The plan upon which the apostles proceeded… was to plant churches in all the great cities and centers of influence in the known world.”
– Sword & Trowel, Vol 1 April 1865, p.63
Church Planting Future
Planting – We want to plant new churches. Since the inception of Pillar Church of Dumfries, we have planted at least one new church each year. We pray that would continue and increase in the coming years.
Central Asia – Our work in CA is our endeavor to plant new churches. This effort began in 2014 when a mission team went on a vision trip with a CA international worker. Currently the international worker and his family are living in CA and working to establish new churches among the K peoples.
The Praetorian Project – We have a long-term goal of seeing new churches planted near US Marine Corp installations. For more information see http://www.praetorianproject.org/
Member Planting – When a member of Pillar Church is called to plant a new church, we want to be involved! Throughout the short history of our church, God has called a number of men to plant new churches. Whenever this happens we want to provide support, accountability, and instruction.
Growing – We want to grow stronger. We realize numerical growth is not the goal of the church but the Scriptures make it clear that God does grow His church and we want Him to add to his kingdom in our city (Acts 2:47). We also pray that there is a growing affection for Christ and a growing hunger to understand the Bible among the members of Pillar Church.
Partnering – We want to partner with other gospel-centered churches to more thoroughly spread the gospel and establish churches in places where Christ is not yet known. Since we believe that Churches Plant Churches, we want to make sure all our partnerships are church based.
WHY PLANT CHURCHES, ANYWAY?
By: Tim Keller
The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the 1) numerical growth of the body of Christ in any city, and the 2) continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else – not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes – will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.
Jesus’ essential call was to plant churches: Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are basically calls to plant churches, not simply to share the faith. The “Great Commission” (Matt 28: 18-20) is not just a call to “make disciples,” but to “baptize.” In Acts, and elsewhere, it is clear that baptism means incorporation into a worshiping community with accountability and boundaries.
Bible’s premise: The only way to truly be sure you are creating permanent new Christians is to plant new churches. Why? Much traditional evangelism aims to get a “decision” for Christ. Experience, however, shows us that many of these decisions disappear and never result in changed lives.
Why? Many (most?) decisions are not really conversions, but often only the beginning of a journey seeking God. Only a person who is being evangelized in the context of an on-going worshiping and shepherding community can be sure of finally coming home into vital, saving faith. This is why a leading missiologist like C. Peter Wagner can say, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”
Paul’s whole strategy was to plant urban churches. The greatest missionary in history, St. Paul, had a rather simple, two-fold strategy. First, he went into the largest city in the region (cf. Acts 16:9, 12), and second, he planted churches in each city (cf. Titus 1:5 “appoint elders in every town.”) Once Paul had done that, he could say that he had preached the gospel in a region and that he had no more work to do there (cf. 15:19, 23).
Bible’s premises: a) The way to most permanently influence a country was through its chief cities, and b) The way to most permanently influence a city was to plant churches in it.
New churches best reach new generations, new residents, and new people groups. Younger adults are disproportionately found in new congregations. Why? Older churches’ traditions (time of worship, length of service, emotional responsiveness, sermon topics, leadership style, emotional atmosphere and thousands of other tiny customs) reflect the sensibilities of leaders from the older generations who have the influence and money to control church life.
New residents are better reached by new congregations. In long-established churches it may require a tenure of 10 years before you are allowed into places of leadership and influence but in a new church, new residents tend to have equal power with long-time area residents.
New social groups are better reached by new congregations. Examples: 1) New white-collar commuters in a former farming community will find older churches oriented to the original social group. 2) New Hispanics in a former Anglo community will find a new, deliberately bi-racial church far more able to create Ôcultural space’ for newcomers than older churches. 3) New immigrant groups can only be reached by new churches ministering in their own language. Summary: new congregations empower new people much more readily than older churches. This means church planting is not only for “frontier regions” or “pagan” countries that we are trying to see become Christian. Christian countries will have to maintain vigorous, extensive church planting simply to stay Christian!
New churches best reach the unchurched. Dozens of studies confirm that the average new church gains most of its members (60-80%) from among people outside any worshipping community, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members from people moving from other congregations. Therefore, new churches will bring 6-8 times better at drawing new people into the Body of Christ.
As a congregation ages, powerful internal institutional pressure lead it to allocate most of its resources and energy toward the concerns of it members, rather than toward those outside its walls. Older congregations, therefore, have a stability and steadiness that many people thrive on and need. Many non-Christians will only be reached by churches with long roots in the community and the trappings of stability and respectability. But new churches, of necessity, are forced to focus far more of it’s energies on the needs of its non-members and becomes much more sensitive to the sensibilities of non-believers. There is also a cumulative effect. In the first two years of our Christian walk, we have far more close, face-to-face relationships with non-Christians than we do later. Thus, new Christians attract non-believers to services 5-10 times more than a long-time Christian. New believers beget new believers.
What does this mean practically? The only wide scale way to bring in lots of new Christians to the Body of Christ in a permanent way is to plant new churches.