Why Start New Churches?
By Alfred E. Mulder
The church I attend in urban Grand Rapids, Madison Square Christian Reformed Church, is bursting at the seams. In fact, we are gearing up for a fourth morning service at an alternate location and are in the midst of fund-raising for a larger sanctuary. At the same time, a goal of Christian Reformed Home Missions is to help the denomination (now numbering 900 congregations) to start at least 200 new churches in the decade of the nineties. Naturally I am asked, “Why spend all that money on starting new churches? Why don’t you send some of it our way?!’ The purpose of this article is to answer the first part of that question: “Why spend all that money on starting new churches?”
First, we start new churches be cause of the love of God. God wants people to be saved. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God loves those who do not yet know him or those who, for whatever reason, do not ac knowledge him. Whether they are ignorant or unbelieving, God “wants all men to be saved and to come to acknowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Second, we start new churches be cause of the expectation of God. God expects people to come to acknowledge of himself. When seeing masses of needy people Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful. . .“ (Matthew 9:37). He did not write them off; he saw a harvest! Harvest speaks of needs met and dreams fulfilled. At another time with different imagery but the same expectation, Jesus said in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.
I must bring them also.” God expects that many unsaved will be brought to a living relationship with him as their Savior and Lord.
Third, we start new churches in obedience to the command of God. In the parable of the great banquet, the master tells the servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:23). In Matthew’s record of the Great Commission, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.. .“ (28:18-19). Without question these commands are meant for the Church! And please note: The command is not to provide greeters and servers, but to go out and beat the bushes! Jesus did not tell the world to come to the Church; he told the Church to go to the world!
Fourth, we start new churches be cause of the empowering of God. Jesus inserted his command to “go and make disciples” between two wonderful truths: that he has “all authority” and that he promises to help us! “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Then just before he ascended to heaven, Jesus declared, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses. . .“ (Acts 1:8). We plant and water in the confidence that God makes churches grow (1 Corinthians 3:7).
Fifth, we start new churches be cause the Church is the Body of Christ, and it is the nature of heal thy bodies to reproduce them selves. In Ephesians Paul writes about the Body of Christ being built up toward unity and maturity and fullness in Christ (4:12-13), and that as each part does its work the whole body grows and builds itself up in love (4:16). Yes, this refers to our relationship in Christ and our fellowship within the congregation, but it also refers to the living Body of Christ giving birth to thousands of new congregations in North America and around the world.
Sixth, we start new churches be cause new churches are used by God to bring people to himself. Most church growth experts still contend that starting new churches is one of the most effective means of evangelism under heaven. (As Peter Wagner has quipped, “It is easier to have babies than to raise the dead.”) Most denominational profiles show that their new churches receive more new members through evangelism than do their larger, established churches. The point is simple: If Paul was willing to “become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22), then we too should do what it takes for the faithful gathering of God’s growing family!
This article comes from the Evangelism Department of the Christian Reformed Church, Church Development Resources publishing arm. Net Results/November 1990
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”