Celebrating Church Plants
by Ed Stetzer
This is my column from the most recent issue of Outreach Magazine. The magazine has several excellent articles, including a section on lessons on church planting, with something of a "round table" where nine of us give our thoughts on key issues for the future. Here is my column:
Over the past 60 years, Billy Graham and his evangelistic crusades have been one of the best known and effective tools of evangelism. His staff has stated that over 3 million people had accepted Christ through the crusades. At the end of his public ministry, an estimated 80 million people had heard Dr. Graham preach in person. The impact of his ministry has left a rich legacy for years to come.
Regardless of the view that people might have, just about everyone agrees that in more recent years, evangelistic crusades have waned in their influence. They are still making a difference in some places, but not as often or as much. Some of this is a societal shift, some of this is a church methods shift, but most would agree that it is real-- and that something else has taken its place. What? A couple of years ago, Christianity Today reported that church planting is now the new "crusade evangelism." I thought that was interesting and agree that the influence of new churches is quite significant.
When writing the book, Viral Churches, Warren Bird and I researched how many new churches were actually being planted in the United States. Based on our sample, it seems about four thousand new churches are being planted a year, and 3,500 are closing. What's more, the pastors of some of these new churches are a few of the top evangelical leaders in the country. Craig Groeschel, Tim Keller, Rick Warren...they all planted a church and are still leading the church they planted. (And, there are thousands of others who have not written books and become well known!)
Read more at EdStetzer.com