We need more churches, having more gospel faithful churches is a good thing for any area. In my context, having a conservative evangelical church in an area without one is a good thing.
You may have picked up that we have plans to plant a new church in Rochdale, which is north east of Manchester. I’ve been interviewed about it and Steve Kneale the pastor of Oldham Bethel Church has blogged about their reasons for helping us. The two of us will be talking about it in an upcoming podcast too.
This is a really exciting thing for me to be doing, but people often have questions about planting and so I thought I’d begin to put my thinking out there to help answer those questions. One basic question might be: why plant a church?
Here are some reasons:
- Planting churches is biblical and apostolic. As they follow Jesus’ command to make disciples in Matthew 28:16-20 across the world, we find the disciples naturally dividing into house assemblies, starting assemblies in new places and organising those assemblies, such that the apostles over time start writing the local church(es) in different places (e.g. Acts 2:46; 11:22, 26; 14:23; 16:4-5; 1 Corinthians 2:1; Galatians 1:2; 1 Timothy 3).
- We need church plants in 3 contexts as a consequence of reason 1:
- Where there are no churches. This is classically in the context of going to a new mission context (e.g. a new country or area) where there are simply no churches for a long way. In the UK this can be a little complex. In a mobile society, in one sense most people could get to a good church without too much problem. However, many of us know from an evangelistic perspective, it is difficult to get people to travel to a church. Local and accessible is ideal for both evangelism and long-term discipleship.
- Where there are not enough churches. Sometimes this is as simple as saying that the church(es) are too full for more people to join. It is not unusual for example for a growing congregation to keep planting churches simply to create space in your building(s) so that more people can come to be disciples of Jesus. Other times, it may be looking at an area and recognising, even if all these churches were full, there wouldn’t be space for, for example, another 5% of the local population to start attending church. This latter situation would be a strong reason for planting almost anywhere in the UK at the moment.