Transitions

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN GO WEST!

As of October 31, Tom Lavigne completed his time as the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Director of Church Planting. Read the interview below to find out what he has been learning in the transition process.Tom-Lavigne

We’ll be taking a break from GO WEST! as we revision and work through various changes taking place in the ministry. However, we have other methods of keeping you up-to-date on our church plants and the ministry itself. Read the “Staying Connected” article for tips on keeping in touch with us throughout the adjustments.

Stay Connected

In this time of transition, we’ll be working out a number of changes in the Church Planting office in order to best serve the CBWC constituency. Therefore, this will be the last issue of GO WEST! for the time being, but there are plenty of other ways to stay connected.

  • We will continue to share stories and prayer requests on the Church Planting Blog: churchplantingatcbwc.wordpress.com. Subscribe to the feed by clicking here, or visit the blog and click the “Follow” button on the bottom of your browser window. By entering your email address, you’ll have all the Church Planting new sent right to your inbox.
  • All our blog entries are also posted on the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Facebook page for easy access.
  • We’ll continue to share stories as well through the CBWC’s wider monthly enewsletter Making Connections. Subscribe today.

And, Cailey will still be available to connect via email: cmorgan@cbwc.ca, or at 604.420.7646. Thanks for being willing to stick with us amidst the adjustments!

Final Thoughts from Tom

GO WEST!: At the last leadership forum in Vancouver, we discussed how ministry brings with it all kinds of transitions. As you are in a transitional phase yourself, what advice can you offer others in a similar circumstance?

Tom: The initial thoughts are that we should be expecting transition to be an ongoing part of ministry. While some people hope that change never happens—it seems to be an inevitable part of ministry. Any advice I would give would be along the lines of staying especially close and sensitive to how God is leading, have lots of healthy communication with family, close friends and mentors. Also, the realization that while change or transition catches some of us by surprise; God is not sitting on the sidelines in a state of shock, so we can trust that He is very involved in the process, loves us deeply and has the best in store for us.

GW: What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Tom: I’m learning to be less fearful of what others think and more concerned with being obedient to God. It’s most important to please God in His process and timing than others and myself in our own plans and agendas.

GW: What are some of your fondest memories of your time as Director of Church Planting?

Wow, so many amazing things have happened over the past four years.

  • I’m very appreciative for the opportunity given me by Jeremy Bell, Jan Paasuke and the Staff and Board to come into the role with a lot of freedom and resources to help shape the Church Planting ministry in the CBWC.
  • Being a part of the stories of the lives of our Church Planters, their families and teams as they struggle, pray and wrestle through what it means to be a church family has been a huge blessing.
  • Parties at launches of new churches, baptisms of new believers, and seeing the “aha” moments in the faces of Church Planters when they realize that yes, God is indeed in this ministry.
  • Getting to work alongside a passionate staff team who do so much more than they ever get paid for and yet deliver amazing results time after time.

GW: Tell us something we didn’t know about you.

Tom: I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s clothing…but don’t tell anyone.

GW: What excites you as you look ahead? Any plans? Any ideas about where God might want you next?

What excites me looking ahead are the incredible opportunities that God has in store for each of us—as I look around I see God at work in so many people and places and I’m amazed at His goodness in allowing us to be a part of His great story. The only plans I have are to take a bit of time off (November/December) visiting with family and friends and taking some personal retreat and reflection time. I’m not sure where God would have us next—if you hear anything please let me know!

What are you celebrating?

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Psalm 150 says, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Building our house took us way longer than we ever expected, cost us way more than we wanted to spend and caused us way more angst than we ever imagined. And then finally the big day arrived! One of the great joys of building a family home is the big day when you finally get to move in. In our case it was moving in on December 15th in -38 degree weather. Needless to say it was a quick unloading of all of our earthly possessions!

All the work and perspiration, the money and expense, the heartache and frustration culminate in a sense of awe and relief– we’ve arrived at last.

After sensing God’s call to plant a new church in our community we prayed and sought confirmation from God. We listened intently to the counsel of wise friends who’d been down the church planting road. And we developed relationships and friendships with people of peace. We were pretty excited, encouraged and a bit naïve. We invested large amounts of time and energy into trying to figure out what God was up to (with lots of surprises along the way). And finally the big day arrived! In church planting there is a tremendous anticipation that builds as you prepare to launch. All the prayer and visioning, the ideas and planning, the hopes and heartaches come together with a tremendous sense of awe – Lord, here we go!

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we love to celebrate some of the great things that are happening in our Church Plants and partnering Churches. This past summer we’ve rejoiced in great times of fellowship at camps, amazing testimonies and baptisms, outreach activities and gospel concerts, and Church Plants investing in new Church Plants – awesome stories of Lord. Lord, here we go! Check some of our stories on our blog , www.churchplantingatcbwc.wordpress.com.

Ed Stetzer tells us that, “What You Celebrate You Become.” Check out his article from Christianity Today. It’s an intriguing little series that challenges us to ask the questions of what, why, who, when, how and where do we celebrate God’s faithfulness in our midst. Let us know what you celebrate and how that looks – we’d love to hear more.

Louie Giglio shares some probing questions about celebrating the Church that Jesus is building. Check out his talk on YouTube.

At CBWC Church Planting we’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and stories on celebrating, church planting and what God is up to in your life. Please contact Tom at tlavigne@cbwc.ca or Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca

The Intercultural Mandate

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

At times, we consider the idea of intercultural church to be just one model out of many for church planting. But is it possible that every congregation should in fact be striving towards this way of life? The following thoughts from Bob Rasmussen, OC International, can be found in his guidebook Leading Your Church through Intercultural Transformation.

A multitude of Scripture passages make it clear that the intercultural church is God’s idea. When God lays these truths on a believer’s heart, they become an exciting calling. And because the ministry has many challenges, these truths provide vital motivation to persevere. There are various ways in which the Biblical mandate is presented. Here are some foundational truths:

Greenhills Calgary

Greenhills Calgary

  1. At the tower of Babel, mankind’s societal success would have caused their prideful self-destruction. For their own good, God confused their language, which led to different cultures (Genesis 11). God’s strategy has worked beautifully. Cultural diversity is here to stay.
  2. While God chose one nation, Israel, as His special people, He has always sought an inheritance from among all the nations. The calling of God’s people Israel was to be a blessing and light to the nations (Gen 12:1-4).
  3. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, two alarming developments emerged. First, the majority of the nation Israel failed to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah (Romans 11:7-31). At the same time, Jesus reminded the world that God sought faith from every nation. His house was to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mk 11:17).
  4. Jesus intentionally crossed ethnic and gender barriers when He talked with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4:1-26). He emphasized that His family consists of anyone who believes in Him (Mk. 3:31-35; 1 Pet. 2:9-10)
  5. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers who would follow (Jn 17:21). This is to serve as evidence that the Father sent the Son.
  6. Before Jesus ascended, He stressed the abiding priority of bringing the good news to all the peoples and nations in the Spirit’s power (Matt. 28:18-20), starting with our own “Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).
  7. The inauguration of the church on the Day of Pentecost demonstrated its multi-ethnic nature (Acts 2:1-13). Cultures were honored by being addressed in their own languages, which became avenues for carrying the gospel to every people. The first recorded church conflict had cultural ramifications, and the solution was a multi-cultural team of helpers (Acts 6:1-7). The council of Jerusalem wrestled with the implications of ministry in a multi-cultural world (Acts 15).
  8. The Apostle Peter is clearly transformed from a mono-cultural to intercultural leader through his vision and subsequent interaction with Cornelius. As leader of the Jerusalem church, Peter validates the inclusion of all peoples in the church (Acts 10-11).
  9. The Antioch church is immediately highlighted as a multi-ethnic church with a heart for the nations (Acts 11, 13).
  10. Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles,” is called by God to develop the doctrine and practice of intercultural ministry. Among the most notable truths given in his writings are: (a) the revelation of the “mystery” that the Gentiles are equally a part of the church, Eph 3:1-9 (b) the breaking down of the Law as a separating wall, and creating of “one body through the cross, Eph 2:11-22, (c) the interdependence between parts of the body of Christ as mutually important contributors, 1 Cor 12:4-27, (d) the priority of incarnational ministry so as to win all peoples to Christ, 1 Cor 9:19-23, and (e) the practical imperative of loving others in order to preserve the unity of the body, Eph 4:1-6.
  11. Even as the chosen nation Israel was to have been a light to the nations, the spiritual riches of the church, consisting of all peoples, will provoke Israel to jealousy, resulting in a great day of mercy and salvation for Israel (Rom. 11:11-36).
  12. The culmination of God’s plan for the nations is envisioned by the Apostle John, where “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” cry out “with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God…’” (Rev. 7:9-12). Worship in the colors and flavors of the nations is clearly something God enjoys, not only in heaven but now on earth!

When one is gripped by God’s priority on reaching all the nations, it is impossible to retreat to ministry-as-usual. And when we see God deliberately drawing believers from every nation into His one and only body, the Church, it becomes difficult to justify local churches which remain unmoved as diverse peoples gather in nearby neighborhoods.

To retreat to the comforts of mono-cultural churches is out of sync with Jesus’ prayer for our unity. And to surrender to the segregated norms of society runs counter to the barrier-bashing work of the cross.

You can read the full guidebook here. To learn more, you might also consider this November’s Church Planting Canada Congress in Oakville, Ontario, which will feature a stream of workshops on intentionally intercultural churches facilitated by Robert Cousins and Chris Pullenayegem of Tyndale Intercultural Ministry Centre. Check out thecongress.ca to learn about the event or contact Tom Lavigne for more information about attending the Congress with the CBWC Church Planting group.

Church Plant Failures

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne

For much of the 22 years of my pastoral ministry I’ve been actively involved in church plants and with church planters. I’m often asked about what “Success and Failure” looks like in church planting. Some say that success can be measured in ABCs—Attendance, Building and Cash—but these three factors are far from the whole picture of a Spirit-led congregation.sad

I’ve seen churches that are small in numbers but huge in ministry effectiveness; groups with small budgets doing big things; plants with lots of money and quality space, but no people. I’ve seen some amazing successes and spectacular flops and I have some scars to prove it. To quote the actress Sophia Loren, “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

So why do some plants fail? Geoff Surratt’s written a great series of blogs that summarize a lot of my own experiences with church planting. Geoff shares a three-part series including these three failure factors:

  • Planting alone; Resiliency; the Intangibles of Calling, tough soil, timing and grace.
  • Underfunded; Rigid models.
  • Unqualified leaders; Lack of understanding and respect for local context. Read the articles.

As an added bonus, check out Geoff’s book, Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing. Here are some of the humourous chapter titles:

  • Establishing the Wrong Role for the Pastor’s Family: “I realize that the church secretary can’t type, but she’s the mother of my children.”
  • Settling for Low Quality in Children’s Ministry: “If flannelgraph Bible stories were good enough for me, they’re good enough for your children”
  • Promoting Talent over Integrity: “We know he’s a thief and a liar, but no one can make the organ sing like Bob”
  • Clinging to a Bad Location: “We’re located under the freeway behind the abandoned Kmart.”

As I get older I appreciate more and more the words of Otto von Bismarck who said “Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others’ experience.”

I’d love to talk with you about your church planting ideas, and share some of my cautionary tales. My mistakes would feel much less painful if I knew someone was learning from them! Give me a shout at 1.800.596.7772 or tlavigne@cbwc.ca.

The Urban Planter

This article first appeared in GO WEST!

By Tom Lavigne

I’ve noticed a few changes (understatement) since we moved back into “Urbania.” Vancouver, BC, is where I was raised – and now return to after thirty years of living in Northern British Columbia and Alberta.
• I’ve gone from a land of open spaces, breathing room, light traffic and low density to a place of close proximity, tight spaces, traffic indigestion and high density living.

• I left Urbania as part of the cultural majority and have now returned as a visible minority.

• I’ve come from a place of limited choices to a centre of unrestricted options.

• From closer knit families and friendships to a land of many people yet little sense of community.

So how does the Urban Church Planter live out the kingdom of God in multi-culture, multi-options and multi-people Urbania?

Southside Community Church is the multi-congregational church my wife and myself are a part of. Southside’s values include living “in and for” our community. Our core families engage incarnationally on the mission of God desiring to impact our neighbours in Urbania.

Here are some good reads on the topic of the Urban Planter:

David Broodryk has written a terrific article, “Re-thinking Urban Church Planting,” about some insights and strategies for addressing the uniqueness of kingdom life in an urban context.

Dr. Sean Benesh @seanbenesh has written several intriguing books (including Metrospiritual: The Geography of Church Planting and View From the Urban Loft: Developing a Theological Framework for Understanding the City) that delve into engaging the urban culture with the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada we have several people planting churches in the downtown core of our cities – seeking transformation while living with those on the margins. We’d love to hear your stories of planting new churches in urban contexts.

Bye for now, I have to leave early to avoid rush hour. Until next time,

Tom Lavigne, Director of Church Planting

Like what you read?

If you’ve been as challenged and encouraged as we have by our recent series of articles from Timothy Keller, you may want to check out some of the other resources he has available.

Here’s a link to a list of Tim Keller’s book titles, or you can click here to find his blog.

As Keller’s article series wraps up, let us know what you think. Are these types of articles helpful? What topics do you think GO WEST! should tackle? Email Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca with your feedback, or share on our blog.

Thanks for reading!

~Tom and Cailey

Summary: Why Plant Churches?

Continuing from last issue, Timothy Keller answers the question, Why Plant Churches?

If we briefly glance again at the objections to church planting in the introduction, we can now see the false premises underlying the statements. Objection A assumes that older congregations can reach newcomers as well as new congregations, but to reach new generations and people groups will require both renewed older churches and lots of new churches. Objection B assumes that new congregations will reach only currently active churchgoers, but new churches do far better at reaching the un-churched, and thus they are the only way to increase the “churchgoing pie.”

Banff_SowdenObjection C assumes that new church planting will only discourage older churches. There is a possibility of some initial discouragement, but for many reasons new churches are one of the best ways to renew and revitalize older churches.

And a final objection assumes that new churches work only where the population is growing. In actuality, they reach people wherever the population is changing. If new people are coming in to replace former residents, or new groups of people are coming in even though the net population figure is stagnant, new churches are needed.

New church planting is the only way that we can be sure we are going to increase the number of believers in a city, and it is one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ. The evidence for this statement is strong—biblically, sociologically, and historically. In the end, a lack of kingdom-mindedness may simply blind us to all this evidence. We must beware of that.

FINAL NOTE: HISTORICAL LESSONS

If all this is true, there should be lots of evidence for these principles in church history—and there is!

In 1820, there was one Christian church for every 875 U.S. residents. From 1860 to 1906, U.S. Protestant churches planted one new church for every increase of 350 in the population, bringing the ratio by the start of World War I to just one church for every 430 persons.

In 1906 over a third of all the congregations in the country were less than twenty-five years old. As a result, the percentage of the U.S. population involved in the life of the church rose steadily. For example, in 1776, just 17 percent of persons in the United States were categorized as “religious adherents,” but by 1916 that figure had risen to 53 percent.

After World War I, however, especially among mainline Protestants, church planting plummeted for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons was the issue of turf. Once the continental United States was covered by towns and settlements, with churches and church buildings in each one, there was strong resistance from older churches to any new churches being planted in “our neighborhood.” As we have seen above, new churches are commonly very effective at reaching new people and growing during their first couple of decades.

The vast majority of U.S. congregations peak in size during the first two or three decades of their existence and then remain on a plateau or slowly shrink. This is due to the factors mentioned above: they cannot assimilate new people, or groups of people, as well as new churches can. However, older churches have feared the competition from new churches.

Mainline church congregations, with their centralized government, were the most effective in blocking new church development in their towns. As a result, the mainline churches have shrunk remarkably in the last twenty to thirty years.

What are the historical lessons? Church attendance and adherence overall in the United States are in decline. This cannot be reversed in any other way but the way it originally had been so remarkably increasing. We must plant churches at such a rate that the number of churches per 1,000 in the population begins to grow again, rather than decline as it has since World War I.

Do you agree? What action will your congregation take?

This series of articles is composed of Timothy Keller’s paper Why Plant Churches. Copyright © 2002 by Timothy Keller, © 2009 by Redeemer City to City.

Planting for Kingdom-Mindedness

Continuing from last issue, Timothy Keller answers the question, Why Plant Churches?

WE PLANT CHURCHES AS AN EXERCISE IN KINGDOM-MINDEDNESS

All in all, church planting helps an existing church best when the new congregation is voluntarily birthed by an older “mother” congregation. Often the excitement and new leaders and new ministries and additional members and income wash back into the mother church in various ways and streKarenFamilyWithCdnHostsngthen and renew it.

Although there is some pain in seeing good friends and valued leaders go away to form a new church, the mother church usually soon experiences a surge of high self-esteem and an influx of new, enthusiastic leaders and members.

However, a new church in the community usually confronts churches with a major issue—the issue of “kingdom-mindedness.” New churches, as we have seen, draw most of their new members (up to 80%) from the ranks of the un-churched, but they will always attract some people out of existing churches. That is inevitable.

At this point, the existing churches, in a sense, have a question posed to them: “Are we going to rejoice in the 80 percent—the new people the kingdom has gained through this new church—or are we going to bemoan the situation and resent the three families we lost to it?” Our attitude to new church development is a test of whether our mindset is geared to our own institutional turf or to the overall health and prosperity of the kingdom of God in the city.

Any church that is more upset by its own small losses than grateful for the kingdom’s large gains is betraying its narrow interests. Even so, as we have seen, the benefits that new church planting offers to older congregations is very great, even if not initially obvious.

Read Tim Keller’s final conclusions on the question why plant churches? in our next issue of GO WEST!.

This series of articles is composed of Timothy Keller’s paper Why Plant Churches. Copyright © 2002 by Timothy Keller, © 2009 by Redeemer City to City.

Renewing the Body

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN GO WEST! VOLUME 2 ISSUE 5.

Continuing from last issue, Timothy Keller answers the question, Why Plant Churches?

WE ALSO PLANT CHURCHES BECAUSE WE WANT TO CONTINUALLY RENEW THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST

It is a great mistake to think that we have to choose between church planting and church renewal. Strange as it may seem, the planting of new churches in a city is one of the very best ways to revitalize older churches in the vicinity and renew the whole body of Christ. Why?

FIRST, THE NEW CHURCHES BRING NEW IDEAS TO THE WHOLE BODY

There is plenty of resistance to the idea that we need to plant new churches to reach the constant stream of new groups and generations and residents. Many congregations insist that all available resources should be used to find ways of helping existing churches reach them. There is, however, no better way to teach older congregations about new skills and methods for reaching new people groups than by planting new churches.

It is the new churches that have freedom to be innovative, so they become the Research and Development Department for the whole body in the city. Often the older congregations have been too timid to try a particular approach or absolutely sure it would “not work here,” but when the new church in town succeeds wildly with that new method, the other churches eventually take notice and gain the courage to try it themselves.

SECOND, NEW CHURCHES ARE ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO IDENTIFY CREATIVE, STRONG LEADERS FOR THE WHOLE BODY

In older congregations, leaders emphasize tradition, tenure, routine, and kinship ties. New congregations, on the other hand, attract a higher percentage of venturesome people who value creativity, risk, innovation, and future orientation.

Many of these men and women would never be attracted or compelled into significant ministry apart from the appearance of these new bodies. Often older churches “box out” people who have strong leadership skills but who cannot work in more traditional settings.

New churches in a city thus attract and harness people whose gifts would otherwise not be utilized in the work of the body. These new leaders eventually benefit the whole body in the city.

THIRD, THE NEW CHURCHES CHALLENGE OTHER CHURCHES TO SELF-EXAMINATION

Broadway-First Baptist, Winnipeg Manitoba

Broadway-First Baptist, Winnipeg Manitoba

In general, the success of new churches often challenges older congregations to evaluate themselves in substantial ways. Sometimes it is only in contrast with a new church that older churches can finally define their own vision, specialties, and identity.

Often the growth of the new congregation gives the older churches hope that “it can be done,” and it may even bring about humility and repentance for defeatist and pessimistic attitudes. Sometimes a new congregation can partner with an older church to mount ministries that neither could do by itself.

FOURTH, THE NEW CHURCH MAY BE AN “EVANGELISTIC FEEDER” FOR A WHOLE COMMUNITY

The new church often produces many converts who end up in older churches for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the new church is very exciting and outward facing but is also very unstable or immature in its leadership. Some converts cannot stand the tumultuous changes that regularly come through this new church, and they move to an existing church.

Sometimes the new church reaches a person for Christ, but the new convert quickly discovers that he or she does not fit the socioeconomic makeup of the new congregation and gravitates to an established congregation where the customs and culture feel more familiar. Ordinarily, the new churches of a city produce new people not only for themselves but for the older bodies as well.

In summary, vigorous church planting is one of the best ways to renew the body of Christ in a city, as well as the best single way to grow the whole body of Christ in a city.

There is one more reason why it is good for the existing churches of a region to initiate or at least support the planting of churches nearby. Find out this final reason in the next issue of GO WEST!.

How do Keller’s arguments make you feel? Leave us a comment.

This series of articles is composed of Timothy Keller’s paper Why Plant Churches. Copyright © 2002 by Timothy Keller, © 2009 by Redeemer City to City.

New Churches Best Reach the Unchurched–Period.

This article by Dr. Tim Keller appeared in GO WEST! Issue 2 Volume 4. read the previous installment.

 

Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60–80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshiping body, while churches over ten to fifteen years of age gain 80–90 percent of new members by transfer from other congregations.1 This means the average new congregation will bring six to eight times more new people into the life of the body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.

Crossover Church Plant Christmas Party

Crossover Church Plant Christmas Party

Although established congregations provide many things that newer churches often cannot, older churches in general will never be able to match the effectiveness of new bodies in reaching people for the kingdom. Why would this be? As a congregation ages, powerful internal institutional pressures lead it to allocate most of its resources and energy toward the concerns of its members and constituents, rather than toward those outside its walls. This is natural and to a great degree desirable. Older congregations have a stability and steadiness that many people thrive on and need. This does not mean that established churches cannot win new people. In fact, many non-Christians will be reached only by churches with long roots in the community and the marks of stability and respectability.

On the other hand, new congregations, in general, are forced to focus on the needs of its non-members, simply to get off the ground. Because so many of a new church’s leaders came very recently from the ranks of the un-churched, the congregation is far more sensitive to the nonbeliever’s concerns. Also, in the first two years of our Christian life, we have far more close, face-to-face relationships with non-Christians than we do later.

A congregation filled with people fresh from the ranks of the un-churched will thus have the power to invite and attract many more nonbelievers into the church’s life and events than will the members of the typical established body.

What does this mean, practically? If we want to reach our city, should we try to renew older congregations to make them more evangelistic, or should we plant lots of new churches? That question is surely a false either-or dichotomy. We should do both! Nevertheless, the above shows that, despite the occasional exceptions, the only broad-scale way to bring many new Christians into the body of Christ in a permanent way is to plant new churches.

To throw this into relief, imagine that Town A, Town B, and Town C are the same size, and they each have a hundred churches of one hundred persons each. In Town A, all the churches are more than fifteen years old. The overall number of active Christian churchgoers in that town is shrinking, even if four or five of the churches get very “hot” and double in attendance. In Town B, five of the churches are fewer than fifteen years old.

They, along with several older congregations, are winning new people to Christ, but this only offsets the normal declines of the older churches. Thus the overall number of active Christian churchgoers in that town is staying the same. Finally, in Town C, thirty of the churches are under fifteen years old. In this town, the overall number of active Christian churchgoers is on a path to grow 50 percent in a generation.2

Response
“But,” many people say, “what about all the existing churches that need help? You seem to be ignoring them.” Not at all.

Find out how church planting helps bolster existing churches in the next issue of GO WEST!. Until then, let us know what you think of Keller’s arguments.

This series of articles is composed of Timothy Keller’s paper Why Plant Churches. Copyright © 2002 by Timothy Keller, © 2009 by Redeemer City to City.

1. Lyle Schaller, quoted in D. McGavran and G. Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies That Work (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980), 100. See also C. Kirk Hadaway, New Churches and Church Growth in the Southern Baptist Convention (Nashville: Broadman, 1987).

2. See Lyle Schaller, 44 Questions for Church Planters (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991), 12. Schaller talks about “the 1% Rule.” Each year any association of churches should plant new congregations at the rate of 1 percent of their existing total; otherwise, that association will be in decline. That is just “maintenance.” If an association wants to grow 50 percent plus, it must plant 2–3 percent per year.