Why is there such a focus on church planting?
Church planting follows the example of Jesus. When we reach into new communities and sub-cultures seeking to penetrate them with the gospel and establish new faith communities within them, we follow the example of Jesus who came to our world and met us where we are.
Jesus’ commission to his followers in Matthew 28:18-20 is a call to ‘make disciples’ and to ‘baptise’. As we read the New Testament it is clear that this includes incorporation into a faith community. The Apostle Paul’s strategy included planting churches. He preached the gospel, gathering those who responded into community.
Church planting is not an end in itself, and should be set in the broader framework of the growth of God’s Kingdom in the world, and the missionary imperative. Yet within that, it is a key part of the mission strategy of the church.
It’s key to missional growth
As Baptists, one of the key elements of our heritage is a strong commitment to mission. We want to be true to Jesus’ commission and our own heritage, in our generation. As well as the continual renewal of existing churches, this will necessitate the planting of many new churches.
Why is this?
- New churches are often best able to reach new generations. The statistics show that younger adults are more likely to be found in newer congregations.
- The statistical evidence in our own country is also clear on another reality – denominations growing in the number of congregations also tend to grow overall; denominations with static or declining numbers of congregations tend to decline overall.
- In the big picture no church, however good, lives forever. None of the churches planted by the Apostle Paul are still around. Church planting is critical to the cycle of renewal as the Kingdom of God continues to grow.
- Church planting allows us to try new ways of being church, to respond to the changing community in which we live.
This is not about renewed existing churches versus new mission-focused churches. Both are needed.