Church Planting As A Growth Strategy In The Face Of Church Decline -- By: Will McRaney

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 01:2 (Fall 2003)
Article: Church Planting As A Growth Strategy In The Face Of Church Decline
Author: Will McRaney

Church Planting As A Growth Strategy In The Face Of Church Decline

Will McRaney

Associate Professor of Evangelism
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
3939 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70126

C. Peter Wagner stated, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”1 But, is this statement actually true? We will seek to determine the validity of this claim by conducting empirical research on churches in Southern Baptist Convention and literature review in light of the biblical mandates and current context of ministry. The decisive purpose of this paper is to determine the validity of church planting as an effective evangelism strategy.

Biblical Mandate: Nature Of Church Is Missional

The church exists for the pleasure of God and for His glory. The church does not exist for the pleasure and comfort of its members and attenders. The gospel is not to be given just to followers of Christ, but through them to each God-created person in the world in the various sub-cultures and tribes in which they live.

The nature of the church is missional. Instead of thinking in terms of a theology of missions, Christians are better served by thinking in terms of a missional theology. The church is to engage a world without Christ in such a way as to expand the kingdom of God by drawing people into a life-giving and life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Condition Of America

North Americans can be characterized as spiritual, yet there is a growing anti-church sentiment and preference toward no religion. USA Today writer Cathy Lynn Grossman noted “people are looking upward, inward, online and out-of-doors for the comfort, connection and inspiration they once sought in formal sanctuaries. Their “spirituality” is unhemmed by ritual, Scripture or theology.”2

The church is not on the radar of many lost Americans. People are searching outside of established churches. Grossman’s research found, “People want help connecting, creating community and seeing God in other people. But religious institutions have been discredited, so they are trying to do it outside the churches.”3 Pastors of seeker-type churches begun in the 80s & 90s would promote themselves as “church” with the same message, but without some of the negatives that were bothersome to seekers. However, some pastors of newer churches now are either not using the word “church” in their name or prom...

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