For many Christians around the world, it may seem that chaos, danger and perversion continue to reign and even worsen. Economic and political turmoil continue to destabilize many countries. Violence and brutal persecution of Christians are increasingly common. Blatant ungodly practices and perversion gain ground in public policy and law in many nations. No longer limited to the Middle East, religious militants have taken their cause throughout Asia, Africa and many Western nations. Conquest of new territory by force is their singular objective. And China continues on its global colonization quest in an historically unprecedented scale as world leaders reap the personal benefits to the detriment of and at the complete unawareness of their citizens. Control over world policy is their endgame, and they are well on their way.
At the same time, the strength and passion of the historically strong Christian Western church seem to continually wain with the increase of liberal theology, the decreased focus on international missions, and our absorption with “busyness.” The church in Africa, Asia and Latin America continue to grow almost exponentially, but is faced with numerous challenges such as weak finances, political instability, limited access to training and often an inward focus.
God’s Solution Has Never Changed
What is God´s solution to the challenges and problems in the world today? It is the continued expansion of His Kingdom. But what does that look like practically? Jesus stated in Matthew 16:18 that He was determined to build His church and that even the gates of hell could not overcome it. He then sent His disciples into the world (John 17:18), instructing them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18).
The book of Acts demonstrates that the early followers of Jesus fulfilled these commands by winning people for Christ and establishing local congregations. God´s method has never changed. The Kingdom of God expands as more community impacting churches which understand how to function in the power of the Kingdom are established in every town, city, people group and nation of the world. The Christian local church truly is the hope of the world. It is supposed to be able to break strongholds and even rescue people from the gates of hell. That is Jesus’ intention and our mission. God help us to achieve that because the Kingdom coming to this earth through his church has always been his solution. (More on this in a future blog.)
Why Plant New Churches?
While no one would argue the Great Commission doesn’t involve multiplying believers, many Christians and even leaders become confused about the need to multiply congregations. Common questions include:
Why should our focus be on establishing new local churches?
Isn’t it sufficient to simply grow existing churches?
Aren’t there many small congregations and almost empty church buildings around the world? Can’t we begin with them before we plant new churches?
I am too busy leading my own church. How could I even consider planting a new one?
Reasons to plant new churches are numerous but they all come down to one truth — all healthy life doesn’t simply grow, it reproduces! Here’s some good reasons to plant a church:
New churches often speak to the next generation of young people as well as different ethnic or economic groups better than older churches.
Multiplying a church often “prunes” the sending congregation in a healthy way (John 15:2). Underutilized church members take on new responsibilities in the new church and grow in the process. Other members of the sending church take over the responsibilities of those who were sent.
All congregations will eventually die. Multiplying themselves ensures their continued impact and influence.
Multiplication of churches not only leads to greater evangelistic results, but also may ensure the survival of Christianity in a culture.
And for our statistics geeks (like myself), consider these:
One major US denomination found that 80% of its converts came to faith in Jesus in churches less than two years old. (Now that is an amazing stat!)
In a 2015 study, 43% of church members in new churches either did not previously attend church or had not attended in many years.
New churches reach 3-6 times more people than older churches of the same size.
And here’s my favorite, a church under 200 members is 4 times more likely to plant a church than a church with over 1,000 members. Church planting is NOT just for big churches. In fact, there appears to be an inverse relationship between the size of a church and its willingness to plant a new church. Why would that be?
A Word to the American Church in 2020
Many cultural observers have concluded this nations is at its greatest point of crossroads in 160 years and I agree. The United States has in essence become two Americas which hold very different “truths” to be “self-evident.” How long this can be sustained is a question that is being more frequently asked. I believe that God is not done with the United States despite the fact that many Americans are fighting hard to be done with God. Our day of judgement will come, but it is not this day.
How do we as Christian leaders respond? I hope we see that there has NEVER been a more critical time in the history of this nation to reach the lost, make disciples of Jesus, train leaders, and plant Kingdom-empowered churches. The future of this nation literally depends on it. And so does the future of many other nations of the world. Let’s make 2021 the year that we get VERY serious about making disciples and training leaders. What change can you implement?
The Fulfillment of the Great Commission Depends on Planting New Churches
There is no way to avoid this truth – many new churches will need to be initiated in order to fulfill the Great Commission. Every church is potentially capable of multiplying itself. All healthy life reproduces; it is the same for churches. While growing existing churches is certainly healthy growth, it is addition, not multiplication. Only multiplication will reach the world. In fact, our goal should be the rapid multiplication of churches. Billions of people are waiting!
Scott E. Dalton is the International Director of Missio Global, an equipping ministry that partners with churches worldwide by providing resources for making disciples, training leaders, and planting churches. There are church-based Missio Global Schools of Ministry currently in eight nations. Scott and his family resided and served for over 14 years in a major developing nation. He holds degrees of BS Business Administration, MA Economics, MA Christian Leadership, and is completing a DMin in Christian Leadership. www.missioglobal.org