I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years, and I’ve never seen the interest in church planting I see today. Here’s my assessment of why this interest is so strong. What would you add to this list?
- Church planting seems easier than church revitalization.
That assumption may or may not be correct, but more than one church planter has accepted the adage that “It’s easier to give birth to a baby than it is to raise the dead.”
- Potential church planters have seen too much difficulty in established churches.
Granted, there are healthy established churches; however, if the potential church planter has never seen one, he gravitates toward planting.
- Young leaders have found some of their heroes in church planters.
That’s much easier to do today, when planters can follow other church leaders via the internet. Now, they can listen to sermons, podcasts and conferences that connect them with successful church planters.
- Many seminary churches have church planting internships.
I knew no church that had church planting internships when I was a seminary student 30 years ago. Today, I know several such churches just in Wake Forest (and in other seminary cities) that encourage and assist potential planters.
- Leaders have recognized the simple need for more churches.
Estimates state that more than 250 million North Americans are not believers, and more than 80 percent of our churches are plateaued or declining. Even if every congregation in North America were healthy, we would still need more churches.
- Young leaders want more intimate fellowship.
The younger generations want Christianity that is a life-on-life, eyeball-to-eyeball faith that assumes accountability and responsibility for each other. It is at least their perception that that’s harder to find in a larger, established church.
- Church planters are typically good at networking.
Few young leaders want to lead on their own, facing battles without warriors by their side. Church planters tend to build strong networks among themselves, and that built-in support system is attractive to young leaders.
- Bivocationalism is more accepted.
While full-time service in the church is still the norm, intentional bivocationalism is increasingly accepted as a legitimate calling. That change is removing a stigma for church planters.
- Young leaders want to go to pioneer areas.
Sometimes those areas are overseas, but leaders are learning that much of North America is also unreached – especially in urban settings. Doing missions by planting churches on this continent is now an option.
- God’s up to something.
Even without these other reasons listed here, it’s hard to deny that God is doing something in raising up young leaders who desperately want to reach lost people and build biblically healthy churches. I don’t want to miss what God is doing.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post first appeared at www.chucklawless.com. Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Lawless and his wife, Pam, have been married for more than 20 years, and they live in Wake Forest.
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