Below are answers to the question of why we feel compelled to plant a church. If you do not have time to read all our thoughts then this is video will give you many of the missional and evangelistic reaasons why we are planting:
We believe we should be planting churches because the Gospel demands it. Jesus gave his apostles and subsequently us a great commission;
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20).
The command, as it has been highlighted in numerous ways, is to make disciples. Mike Breen of 3dM ministries has aptly noted; “if you make disciples you will plant a church but if you plant a church you won’t necessarily get disciples.” We are moving to Riverwest inorder to cultivate a culture of discipleship which will lead to a church plant of mature and growing believers learning to look for what God is doing and meet Him in it.
We also believe we should plant churches because Jesus was the ‘sent one’ on mission and he asks the church to be on mission. In Acts, it is made clear that Jesus’ mission to the world was now the apostle’s mission to the world which has become our apostolic mission:
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2)
Jesus began a mission that His church is called to complete.
Only in the last 20 years has the ‘strategy’ of ‘making disciples’ changed. C.Peter Wagner set out a challenge which has become the mantra of this generation; “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.”
We feel compelled to plant a church in Riverwest because this may be the most biblical and effective way to bring people to new life in Christ. There are numerous studies highlighting the connection between church growth, conversion and the age of a church. According to Tim Keller; “dozens of studies confirm that the average new church gains most of its new members (60%-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10 to 15 years of age gain 80%-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations.”
Church Growth Reason
There are subsidiary effects when a new church is planted. New church plants help boost the health of established churches. Many times new churches are not able, or staffed well enough, to develop mature disciples or to provide programs that many Christians in our culture have come to expect. Because of this, some of the people in the church plant will seek refuge in churches that will be able to help them grow deeper and will also have more in terms of programmatic offerings. This transfer of new believers into established churches will provide an infusion of excitement into the established congregation.
Planting a new church allows room to question ‘the way it’s always been done’ for the sake of reaching the lost for Jesus Christ. For instance, the Anglican church has many beautiful historic traditions and sometimes those traditions are helpful and necessary tools in the development of a new church (i.e. Orders of Worship provided by the BCP, lessons and carols, daily prayer). At other times, the church tradition becomes something of a hindrance to a new church plant and its ability to contextualize the Gospel in its neighborhood.
A study done by the Church of England entitled “Mission-Shaped Church” sought to examine some ‘fresh expressions’ that were emerging in England. These fresh expressions were contextualized forms of ministry and church that were leading to conversion growth. Many of these fresh expressions have had a ‘missional’ approach to ministry. This missional approach to ministry will allow us to be theologically and ecclesiologically rich and faithful while at the same time being free to create forms and expressions that fit our context. This missional approach to ministry will be easier to establish in a new church plant.