“Why plant more churches? Don’t we have enough churches already?” The most common initial responses I’ve heard when church planting is mentioned, often spoken within the same breath. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps, these questions represent one of Satan’s most harmful myths, created in the pits of hell, to keep the church from fulfilling its mission in his desire to make the church disappear from this earth.
Whenever someone tells you “we have enough churches already…” know you’re just being the recipient of fake news. The reality is that we do not have enough churches. In order to make the gospel accessible through the Adventist Church to each one of our 354 million inhabitants in all the corners of the North American Division, we need at least one Adventist Church per every 25,000 inhabitants. This means we would need over 14,162 churches in North America; presently we only have 6,777 churches, companies, and groups in our territory1.
We plant churches because there are people in cities, towns, villages, and islands of North America who do not have access to the gospel through an Adventist Church. If we want them to experience and hear the gospel through an Adventist Church, we need to make the church accessible to them. A very effective way of doing this is by planting new mission groups in their midst.
Evangelism Outcome #4 - Multiplication of Community-Based Church Planting
For the last three years (2015-2018) we surveyed and discussed with thousands of pastors, members, and church leaders, Five Outcomes that could revolutionize mission and evangelism across North America. The fourth one is also vital to our church, take a look:
Multiplication of community based church planting: 78 percent scored this outcome 7 or higher in a 1-10 scale. Another reason for church planting is the simple principle that families that do not reproduce eventually disappear. If we want our beloved Adventist Church to be around in North America till Jesus comes, community church planting needs to be a reality.
The Plant1000 Initiative, launched in the fall of 2015, calls for the planting of 1,000 new congregations across North America between 2016 and 2021. We would like to invite each existing church in North America to consider the possibility of giving birth to a new baby church or adopting the birth of one. Please, keep in mind that planting churches does not hurt existing churches, not even if they are declining. Church planting revitalizes existing churches, provides the possibility for more members to be engaged in mission, and opens a new frontier in evangelism by making the Gospel accessible to people and communities who may not have had access before.
Why community church plants? Because a church that does not go beyond its walls perhaps is not really a church, but a club. We have learned from the incarnational Jesus we follow that our churches should not be encased within four walls, filled with people who only talk to themselves and spiritualize everything while the surrounding world suffers. To resemble the Jesus we proclaim, we need churches that are a constant flow of blessings to their neighbors, classmates, colleagues, and those who simply walk the streets in need of hope. Jesus made life better and brought hope everywhere he went. Our church plants and existing churches must be a reflection of that, if we expect to make a dent in our communities for the kingdom.
Please, discuss this outcome with your church and how to make it a reality to expand God’s kingdom in the communities without Adventist presence in your territory.
1 See Church Planting Report for North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists Year-End Meeting 2017, www.nadsecretariat.org/2017-new-perspectives-yem
2 See http://nadchurchplant.org/71-2/about/plant1000/
Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Director of the Ministerial Association and leads Evangelism, Church Planting, and Adventist/Global Mission for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.