Live blog 2: Missional Church Planting conference

Communications Staff — May 11, 2009

Speaker: Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.

Session title: To plant or not to plant? The Debate

The (attendance) Decline of the American Church and the Rise of Church Planting

Jesus was clear that he built his church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Roman Catholicism takes this too far, but we should still embrace the apostles and prophets as foundational to the church.

Jesus also said the gates of Hades would not prevail against the church. Jesus’ church will always advance. If attendance is declining in churches, Jesus’ church can still advance through church plants.

80-85% of American churches are on the downside of their life cycle (Maulphers, ‘Planting Growing Churches, 32). The majority of evangelical churches are in decline (Maulphers, 34). But Jesus said the gates of Hades would not prevail against His church.

This leads us to church plants.

Between 1980-2000 more than 60,000 church plants were started. So who should plant churches?

‘When it comes to church planting and missions, too many churches have the mentality of, ‘Pay, pray and get out of the way.’ Your church and my church should be organically involved in missional church planting. Churches need to be giving birth to churches.’

Biblical Reasons for Church Planting

  • New churches extend the kingdom of God.

When Stetzer planted a church in Buffalo, N.Y., the most important part of his work was the work of extending the kingdom of God, not getting people to come to his church.

  • New churches enlarge the people of God.

Stetzer said he is compelled to plant churches so that people from every tribe, tongue and nation can believe in Christ and give glory to God.

  • New churches can reproduce themselves.
  • New churches can proclaim a contextual Gospel.

There are some people who don’t think you need to contextualize. You need to understand what contextualization is.

Among Evangelical Christians, contextualization is going to be a major issue of controversy in the next 10 years. Ecclesiology, what a church is, and missiology, how a church reaches a culture, are going to be two of the most controversial topics in the next 10 years among Evangelical Christians.

The Bible is already relevant. Some church leaders and churches are not relevant. Actually, they are culturally relevant, just to a different era.

‘There is relevance [in churches] to an era we love, rather than we where live.’

  • New churches can effectively make disciples.

Experiential reasons for church planting

  • Expanding populations need new congregations.
  • Established churches tend to plateau.
  • New churches are flexible and adaptable.

You have to be careful here, but flexibility in the right areas is good.

  • New churches win more people to Christ.

Statistically, this has proven to be true.

  • New churches develop new leadership.

We found that when we sent out people, others would step in and fill their place. New churches enable people to step into leadership and they cause others to step up and lead.

  • New churches encourage established churches.

The catalyst of having a new church plant creates some ‘positive competition’ with other churches. It provokes established churches to love and good deeds. It causes them to think about how they

  • New churches reach needy areas.

’Bad people make good soil for the Gospel.’

Is God really calling everyone to plant churches in suburban, predominantly Caucasian areas? We need church plants in all kinds of areas.

  • Proximity enhances discipleship.

If people are driving 40 minutes to church, they are typically not living missionally in the church community.

‘I would like for every church and every small group or class within that church, to adopt a people group that is unreached and adopt a church planter that is just getting started.’

Church planters cannot view their work as a career path. And they must aim to please God and not man.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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