If not for their efforts in church planting, our churches would not exist. As we think about the foundational work they did in the past, we are faced with the question, “Why did they plant the church?” If we apply this question to our contemporary context, we ask ourselves, “Why plant churches?”
3. Church planting is beneficial.
Church planting is an extremely effective evangelistic method to reach people who do not know Jesus in our communities, state, nation, and around the world. In his book entitled Church Planting for a Greater Harvest, C. Peter Wagner asserted that “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.” New churches grow faster and evangelize more effectively than existing churches. Citing a study in Christianity Today, Aubrey Malphurs wrote:
Bruce McNicol writes that among evangelical churches those under three years old will win ten people to Christ per year for every one hundred members. Those churches three to fifteen years old will win five people per year for every one hundred church members. Finally, after a church reaches age fifteen, the figure drops to three people per year for every one hundred members.
Study after study confirms the faster growth rates and evangelistic fervor of new churches.
We as a denomination and as Southern Baptists in South Carolina need to refocus on Great Commission work that leads lost people to Christ and spreads his glory. Churches throughout our nation are shutting their doors because they failed to be salt and light in their communities. Our denomination has not been immune to this decline, with some leaders predicting that half of our churches will close their doors by 2030. I agree with Thom Rainer’s comments regarding this decline and the importance of a refocus on churches planting churches to accomplish the Great Commission. In his foreword for Tom Jones’ book entitled Church Planting from the Ground Up, Rainer writes:
Starting new churches is always important. The biblical narratives of the early Church certainly attest to that reality. But starting churches today is critical. There are some 400,000 churches in the United States. We estimate that some 60,000 of those churches will close in the next 10 to 15 years. We will need at least 60,000 churches just to stay even!
But even if churches were not closing, we would need new congregations. These new churches tend to be more effective at reaching people for Christ, and for penetrating areas not reached by existing churches. One cannot have a true passion for reaching our world for Christ without also having a passion for planting churches.
The above evidence and comments from denominational leaders and evangelism experts clearly indicate that church planting is beneficial.
Why plant churches?
We should plant churches because church planting is a biblical method with which to accomplish the Great Commission. We should plant churches as South Carolina Baptists because church planting is baptistic. We should plant churches because church planting is beneficial to Kingdom advancement. Again, after reading this article, we should ask ourselves, “Is church planting part of my church’s evangelistic strategy?” “Why plant churches,” why not?
 Joe Westbury, “An exit interview with Frank Page,” The Christian Index 22 May 2008 [Accessed March 2, 2013 from http://www.christianindex.org/4420.article].
Dr. Tim McKnight is Assistant Professor of Missions and Youth Ministry at Anderson University. He has over 21 years of experience in ministry, serving churches in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He served in youth ministry for 12 years and in the pastorate for 9 years. In addition, Dr. McKnight served as an infantry chaplain in the U.S. Army, deploying on Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom in 2001. He holds a BS in Criminal Justice from Bluefield College, and a M.Div. and PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His primary field of study for the Ph.D. was in evangelism, with additional studies in missions and church history. He has also co-founded Carolina Family Planning Centers and founded Twin Vision Consultants, a church consultation team that helps congregations become healthy and growing churches. He has also served as a disaster relief chaplain in multiple settings in recent years, including in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina.