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When on looks at almost community in America it appears to be well-churched. One concludes that since church buildings have existed for years and their doors have remained open, more churches are not needed. THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG . . .wrong because while our kind of people often appear to have enough churches, enormous numbers of people remain unchurched.

But is seems that with more resources, an already established church would grow faster than a new church with limited resources.

Just the opposite is true! The Nazarenes did a study of growth from 1906 to 1971. They found that in the beginning (with limited resources) they grew extremely rapidly, but toward the end of that period (when they had many large and wealthy churches) they had practically plateaued. They asked themselves, “How many new churches were planted per decade?” There was a close correlation between the number of churches planted and the growth of the denomination. Growth in existing churches and growth by planting new churches are both valid forms of growth; but it appears that great growth of a denomination seldom comes by growth in existing churches. Growth of a denomination comes by planting new congregations.

When you are talking about planting new churches, aren’t you really talking about unholy competition? We have enough competition between churches and denominations.

That objection is well answered by Wendell Belew, of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Department, in a previous issue of CHURCH GROWTH: AMERICA. (Vol 1, No. 4). He states, “Two churches are more complementary than competitive. Two churches minister to people of two different mind sets, two different cultural inclinations. They will reach nearly twice as many unchurched as one will. We need not be afraid of competition between denominations or local churches. I don’t know of any situation where one church “devoured” another by overgrowing it, unless one of the churches had ceased to witness and had determined not to grow.”

Birth and growth is the rhythm of life, as is living and dying. People move away. Communities change. Churches grow old and die. Consequently, we must constantly be planting new churches,

We are not advocating rushing out wild-eyed and starting churches without planning, without expertise, without know-how, just planting churches anywhere. We advocate using the best information available, the best minds available. the best intuition we have. Our community is our mission field and we should minister with the same creative intelligence and dedication we expect of our missionaries.

Can you expect churches of the same denomination located in close proximity to grow?

Even churches with cultural similarities are often quite distinct. Yorba Linda Friends Church in Southern California has grown rapidly in a growing area; however, its leaders were not satisfied to grow only by expansion. A few years ago they planted a Friends church only two miles away. Both churches are now growing rapidly. Dr. Charles Mylander (Institute for American Church Growth representative), in studying these two churches found that even though they are of the same denomination in the same general geographic area, they minister to different kinds of people. Some people feel more comfortable in one church than the other, depending on their economic, social, cultural backgrounds, and their personal preferences in worship and study. These two churches are not competitive, but supportive. They offer two good options to the people of Yorba Linda.

Is planting new churches really the New Testament way?

Every Protestant Church likes to believe it is a New Testament Church and does things in the Biblical way. But, is it really a New Testament church if it isn’t planting churches?

Being a real New Testament church means believing and doing what the New Testament Church did. The New Testament Church was tremendously concerning with, engaged in, and successful at establishing new congregations. They planted churches across Jerusalem, across Judea, across Samaria. The Scripture says, “Samaria received the word of God.” Christian churches were formed in many a village on those Samarian hills. Churches sprang up in Galilee, in Antioch, in city after city all around the Mediterranean. Paul, toward the end of his life, was even headed toward Spain to plant churches. Church multiplication was an essential part of New Testament life. Today, in a world where three out of four persons have yet to believe on Jesus Christ, and at least two out of every four have yet to hear of Jesus Christ, if a congregation is not reproducing, it is not a New Testament Church no matter what it calls itself.

Well, how big should a church be before it has a daughter church?

That depends entirely on circumstances. However, any congregation that has its own building and pastor. should consider having a daughter.The need is too pressing and the opportunity too great for a church selfishly to consider its own welfare and forget about the unchurched multitudes.

This is also the New Testament pattern. The church at Antioch established new churches on Cyprus and Asia Minor before it had a church building of its own. It didn’t send “green” missionaries, either. It sent its two best preachers, Paul and Barnabus. More American churches should follow that pattern.

The pattern of sending the senior pastor to establish a church? Do youreally mean that?

What might happen in America if gifted pastors were freed from their comfortable pulpits and loaned to plant new churches? The Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabus. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is calling a great number of our ablest pastors and seminary professors today.

(The original source and/or publisher of the above material isunknown.)

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