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6 Reasons Established Churches Should Plant Churches

If you are reading this, you are most likely involved in an established church. Maybe yours is thriving, but probably not—depending on the denomination, we are talking about 70 percent of churches are plateaued or declining. But maybe the title did not scare you away, so let’s jump right in.

Here are six reasons for established churches to plant churches.

First, people need Jesus.

Christianity Today says church planting has replaced crusade evangelism as the preferred evangelistic method for evangelicals in North America today. That’s not all good, but it certainly seems true. And, might I add, that makes a difference—that church planting has been successful in establishing new churches.

Yes, I am encouraged that church planting is now a thing. Of course, I want us to both plant and revitalize, so we need revitalization to also be a thing.

However, it’s difficult to deny the fact that church plants reach more lost people with the good news, and since people need Jesus, we need a whole lot more church planting. So, part of your church mission strategy should be church planting locally and globally.

That’s why we plant churches that plant churches that plant churches.

So, established churches need to be revitalized, but they also need to be involved in planting.

Second, it’s the New Testament pattern.

In the biblical record, we constantly see churches sending people to other churches, starting churches and checking on how churches are doing. Today, we have too many churches checking on churches but too few churches working together to send people out to plant. That’s what a heart set on multiplication does. That’s what Great Commission churches do.

When the apostles and disciples heard the Great Commission, we might consider what they did in response. They did not just evangelize. They congregationalized.

When the disciples heard the Great Commission, they planted churches. So should we.

When the (relatively) established church at Antioch heard from the Holy Spirit, they sent out Barnabas and Saul to plant churches. So should we.

Third, for any movement to thrive, it has to plant churches.

If a denomination has 100 churches, it needs to plant three each year just to break even. Don’t miss that 3 percent is that break-even point—it needs to plant five each year to grow, 10 each year to thrive.

That means our churches need to be actively and consistently training and sending out planters. If established churches took this seriously and recognized their responsibility to be a part of a church multiplication movement, we would see a huge shift in North America for the sake of the Gospel.

A movement simply can’t get to health and growth without established churches being on the team that is planting churches.

When the disciples heard the Great Commission, they planted churches. So should we.

Fourth, we need to plant churches because planting churches actually can help your church.

The established church is blessed by planting churches. Jeff Farmer, who was a student at New Orleans Seminary (and formerly on our team), studied several dozen churches of all sizes that were planting churches and compared them with several dozen churches that were not planting churches.

Churches that were planting churches—similar sizes, similar backgrounds—were healthier than those that did not. It wasn’t merely that the churches were already healthy and then planted, but I believe that, in many cases, the act of planting itself helped these churches become more healthy. It was a product of planting.

I am not saying that every dysfunctional, unhealthy church needs to plant. Not at all.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.