Foundations #6 - Church Planting, Replanting, and Revitalization
"Go and Make Disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you." - Matthew 28:18-20
Paul and the Apostles understood this commission of Christ as a call to plant churches. He would travel to major urban cities with regional influences, plant a church, and then move on to the next city. People traveling to and fro from these cities would carry the Christian message to the outer limits and small towns outside the city, and thus more churches were planted. In this way, the Gospel traveled from "Jerusalem, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Our call today is still the same. All research shows that there are more conversions found in church plants and churches that plant churches than those who do not. In an age where our culture is rejecting any notion of authentic Christianity and is actually becoming hostile to its most core beliefs and practices, new and fresh works of church planting are desperately needed to reach a hurt and dying world.
COMMITTED TO INTERNATIONL & DOMESTIC, REGIONAL CHURCH PLANTING
Redeemer recognizes the international need for church planting and actively is supporting the effort abroad. But we also do not want to ignore the great need in our own backyard.
In recent times evangelicalism is rising in America. More people are ditching nominal Christianity for Jesus. We really believe that a national revivial of the church is taking place. It's an unique time to be in America. But the job is far from done, as there is a large disproportionate amount of Christians and evangelicals in certain portions of the country, whereas others are in steep decline and could be considered just as "unreached" as some European nations.
This is why we are committed to supporting church planting domestically, but especially in our own region. We live in a region that is only slightly more than 2% evangelical. There are some zip codes on the Jersey Shore that have NO evangelical churches! And the majority of protestant and evangelical churches in our region have plateaued or are shrinking, and in danger of closing their doors. No single church could ever dream of being large enough or influential enough to reach the many hundreds of thousands of people who do not know Jesus on the Jersey Shore. We don't need one or two church plants, we need many dozens and dozens of new churches to bring fresh life, perspective, and young leadership into our region if we are to reach the next generation.
CHURCH REPLANTING AND REVITALIZATION
Nearly 900 churches shut their door yearly in America. And the Jersey Shore is currently regularly seeing the closure of churches each year. Since I have been in ministry the past seven years on the Shore, we have been contacted by five churches seeking to be replanted or revitalized. Very regularly a church building in our region is put up for sale. Very few churches I am aware of are actually baptizing people and growing on the Shore. In light of this, Redeemer not only seeks to plant churches, but also if God would have it, aide in the revitalization and replanting of hurting churches – not to stamp our name on it or create mini-satellite churches of ours all over the place, but to actually see fresh works of the Spirit in our own region and hurting congregations infused with new life. By God's grace we have had this experience already, and the fruit it bore exeeded all expectaions and has resulted in amazing expansion of the Kingdom in Toms River. You can read our story here.
These hurting churches have an amazing legacy of ministry on the Jersey Shore. The history of evangelical Christianity here is indeed very rich, and these historic churches have played an important part in it. We truly believe that their history does not have to end, and that the Kingdom can still and once again be expanded through them.
OUR PRAYER AND GOAL: TO PLANT A CHURCH IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS
If you are a member of Redeemer Fellowship, know that church planting is one of our highest priorities, because it was the highest priority of the Apostles in spreading the Gospel after the birth of the church. We are currently planning on planting within the next twelve months, praying through where exactly this will take place and how it will occur. Would you please join us in prayer for direction and guidance through our planning and preparation? Please stay tuned for more information regarding this as time goes by.
In the meantime, please read Timothy Keller's helpful paper “Why Plant Churches?” It is a quick read but is so very helpful in understanding the call to plant churches for the glory of God.