I Object!

[Edit: the following is simply my processing what I read in “Planting Churches in a Postmodern Age” by Ed Stetzer.]

Common Objections to Church Planting in North America

1) A large church is better than a bunch of small churches.

  • True, Large churches do tend to have more resources and programs.
  • However, research shows that newer churches reach more people per capita than larger, older churches.  While this is not a universal constant, there are some larger, older churches that do reach folk in droves.  Praise God for that.  However, the data shows that to be an exception.
  • Not everyone likes large churches.  Each church has a personality just as each Christian does.  Some folk of the same denomination will be fired up in one church and turned off in another church of similar theology.

2) We already have a [insert denomination] church in this area.

  • This “parish church mind-set” advocates only church of any given denomination for a geographical region.
  • Like the “large church mentality” this limits the number of churches of any type in an area.
  • In 1900 there were twenty-seven churches for every 10,000 Americans.  By 1995 that number had dropped to just 11.
  • Rather than thinking geographically we should consider population density.  How many people can you fit in your building?  What if you did multiple services?  How many people could your church, paid staff and laity effectively shepherd?  Now, how many people live in your city, town or region?  Honestly, can in all honesty say you can effectively evangelize much less minster to that entire population center?

3) There aren’t enough seminary trained pastors/church planters.

  • In an Introduction to Missions class in college I read Roland Allen’s book, “Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours?” I still have it.  In this book Allen observes that the more education a pastor has, the less effective he tends to be in evangelism.
  • This notion ignores Church history in the Bible (Timothy & Titus did not have formal seminary educations, they were trained informally, on the job by a mentor – Paul) as well as Church history in the Americas.  Lay preachers effectively planted many Baptist and Methodist churches along the American frontier.
  • Many of the most needful areas simply have a demographic that cannot support a “professional” seminary educated (and debt incurred) pastor expecting a full time salary.
  • More important than a formal education is a clear calling from God.

3) Why are we planting new churches when there are so many dying churches?

  • Why do we need to choose one over the other?  Instead of either/or, we should be thinking both/and.  A good evangelistic strategy will attempt to revitalize declining churches and plant new ones.  The need for the former (and there is a need) does not diminish the need for the latter.

4) But the U.S. and Canada are already evangelized.

  • While North American Christians have access to a plethora of resources for development as disciples, it would be wildly inaccurate say the continent has been reached.
  • Many parts of North America are what has been called “post-Christian”, that is to say, they no longer have a Christian or Judeo/Christian worldview.  Other parts were never truly Christianized.  Rather than being neo-pagan, they’re just plain pagan.
  • While there are more churches and Christians in the U.S. particularly, than ever before, we comprise a much smaller segment of the population than ever before.
  • Some data shows the U.S. to be the largest mission field in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth largest mission field in the world.
  • Churches from Asia and Africa are now sending missionaries to North America.

There is a clear and present need for church planting in North America.

4 thoughts on “I Object!

  1. Thanks, but to be honest, that was just my processing what Ed Stetzer wrote in his book, Planting Churches in a Postmodern Age.

    Out of curiosity, how did you stumble upon my blog?

  2. Jason, that’s a great resource; maybe that’s why I liked it so much: I liked it the first time I read it! 🙂

    I get Google feed that shoots me blogs and articles that relate to the subject of church planting; yours came up for me today and I stopped by and wanted to leave some encouragement.

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