by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
I am a passionate believer in church multiplication and church planting, whether the church uses the attractional or the missional model. However, in terms of effectiveness, going to the community is best, instead of attracting the community to our church buildings. Planting new congregations is an essential and natural activity of every healthy church.
Starting new congregations is vital for the life and for the future of the Church. If we don’t have new church plants, we might not have a church in the future at all. Besides, church planting contributes to the vitalization of established congregations, area conferences and denominations.
Having said that, as the body of Christ, we cannot rely on human efforts alone, we need to follow the movement of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, outreach through service and word becomes crucial for both the established and emerging congregations.
The big challenge for us as church begins when we enter the in-reach mode only and depart from outreaching ministry. Church growth and emerging congregations or church plants, are the direct result of an evangelistic ministry and mentality.
We need to be inspired, equipped, and challenged to continue embracing church multiplication and church planting whether it is a combination of joint efforts between conference and established churches, churches in partnership with other churches’ initiatives, or congregations planting congregations. We need to continue embracing the Great Commission as part of our DNA, church planting is one way to do it.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:18-20 NRSV).
Part of the life cycle of any church is to experience growth and to mature, then it is also natural and expected to reproduce. Looking to Church history, we notice how local congregations got involved in their local communities, built relationships, and proclaimed the kingdom of God. This ministry resulted in new church plants. In fact, today’s church is also the product of such apostolic ministry. Perhaps, the survival of the church, in addition to the presence and guidance of Christ’s Spirit, relies on church planting.
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13 NRSV).
Church plants, like any missional established congregation, are agents of transformation too. Emerging congregations are positioned at the forefront of God’s redemptive and transformative work in their local communities as well.
Societal transformation, peace and justice and salvation are made possible only when established congregations and emerging churches are in touch with their hosting community.
Friends, let us be alert to God’s activity in our locations that may signal an emerging group. Planting new congregations is an essential and natural activity of every healthy church.