Why is Church Planting important?
The Bible clearly teaches that we must evangelize. In addition, Scripture shows that those who are evangelized should be brought into the church. Beyond helping existing churches to grow, we can take an even more productive step. By far, the most fruitful way to evangelize is to plant new churches among those who respond.
Before starting, you need to be ready to clearly express why church planting is so important. Juan dela Cruz may object, "We already have a church. We don't need another one." You need to have a persuasive reply prepared. Are you ready? If not, you will be after you read this chapter.
Church planting is important because:
New churches grow faster than old churches
Think about the churches in your town. Which ones are the fastest growing? Most likely they are the newer churches. If you observe the churches in different towns, you will usually find this to be true. As a matter of fact, this is true not only in the Philippines, but worldwide. This has been clearly proven through formal research.1 New churches lead far more people to Christ and bring them into the church than older churches. Because of this fact, it makes good sense to start new churches!
Why do newly planted churches grow faster than older churches?
1. Evangelism is the main activity
Older churches usually have a variety of activities. Many of them are good. The problem is that evangelism sometimes becomes a low priority. When planting a church, evangelism is the main thing that's done. Consequently, people come to Christ and the church grows.
2. Virgin territory
Target barangays for church plants are often in virgin territory. Less Christian activity has probably taken place there. Older churches, on the other hand, may have already covered their barangay several times with tract distribution and other forms of outreach. It's possible that nagsawa na ang mga taga-roon. Meanwhile, the Gospel is often more new to those living in the barangay of a new church plant.
3. More noticeable
A new church is usually more noticeable than an older church. We usually notice new stores. But how many people notice the old palengke? Thousands pass by daily without paying much attention. It's the same thing with older churches. No one notices them anymore. New churches attract more attention.
4. New believers fit in better
When unbelievers come to Christ, they fit in much more easily in a new church. It's so easy to lead people to Christ in the Philippines. At the same time, it's so hard to bring them to church! There are many reasons.
One reason is that most new believers feel very out of place in an older church. In many older churches, the members have been there for years. They know exactly what will happen in every Sunday service. They know the songs. They know when to stand, when to sit, when to shake hands, who is always late, who sings off key, who doesn't sing, who shouts, who cries. They know it all. But what about the new believers? They hardly know anything. It's all foreign to them. As a result, many visitors don't return, 'di ba?
What's the solution? Plant a new church! If you have a group of new believers, it's much more likely they will stay in a church where everyone is new like them. They don't know what they're supposed to do in church. But that's no problem. Sila namang lahat ay baguhan, e! New believers are more comfortable with their kapwa baguhan. They're all at similar levels in the beginnings of their spiritual development. They can learn together.
A key to rapid church growth is to disciple new believers in a context in which they are comfortable, rather than bringing them into a context where we are comfortable. It could be that we are comfortable in our local church, but new believers might not be.
Taytay Methodist Community Church held fruitful evangelistic crusades near their church in Bgy. Maningning. Some of the new believers came to the worship service. The problem was that they didn't fit in. They quickly stopped attending. The leaders then came up with a great idea! They opened a new church for these new believers, even though Maningning is only two kilometers away from TMCC. It clicked! A stable church is there today.
The biggest reason why new churches grow faster than old churches is that new believers fit in better in new churches.
5. New believers in new churches have many contacts
Most people come to Christ and into the church through a close friend or relative. After we have been in the church for a few years, most of our close friends are already Christians. This is not the case yet with new Christians. Their close friends are not yet Christians. Each new believer is an open doorway to many unbelievers. New Christians have far more contacts with non-Christians than those who have been in the church for a few years.
A new church is made up almost completely of new believers like this! Most have plenty of prime contacts. Through faithful follow-up the church can grow rapidly.
6. It's easier to give birth than to raise the dead
It's been said that it's easier to give birth than to raise the dead. This is true of people and of churches. Many people have given physical birth. Few have raised the dead. Many churches have given birth by planting a daughter church. Few churches that are old and lifeless have resurrected themselves to become a vibrant church.
Is there hope for an older church that's hardly growing? Yes! That church can plant a daughter church! It's easier to give birth than to raise the dead! It's not easy to plant a daughter church. It's also not easy to give physical birth. Masakit daw. But it definitely can be done!
7. Proven by the experience of CAMACOP
The history of the CAMACOP (Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of the Philippines) clearly illustrates that new churches grow faster than old churches. From 1975 to 1980 they had an emphasis on church planting. Their churches increased from 515 to 931. More importantly, the membership in all of their churches skyrocketed from 26,000 to 58,000! This gave them a 123% increase in membership over the five-year period.
CAMACOP leaders then decided to change the emphasis. From 1980 to 1985 local evangelism was emphasized. Members were carefully trained to use the best evangelistic tools available. The emphasis was to bring those who responded into existing churches, to help these churches grow. Church planting was no longer emphasized. And what was the result?
Many received Christ and were indeed brought into the existing churches. Churches grew. During this five-year period, membership increased from 58,000 to 82,000. Praise the Lord for this growth.
However, this was just a 41% increase over this five-year period. Yes, there was growthbut far short of the earlier five-year period. The church planting emphasis had brought three times the growth to their total membership! Why? Because new churches grow faster than old churches. Church planting brings in more new members than growth through existing churches.
A Lesson from CAMACOP
Other denominations have also had experiences similar to CAMACOP's.
There are exceptions, but it's generally true. New churches grow faster than old churches.
Church planting can give life and vitality to your church
Many churches think about planting a daughter church. Unfortunately, some never actually do it. They think their church is not quite ready. They give a variety of reasons.
"We need more leaders. When we have enough leaders, then we'll plant a church."
"We have some problems we're working through right now. After that, we'll consider church planting."
"Our church is weak in evangelism. After we strengthen this area then we'll plant a church."
"We don't have the money. When we have some surplus, then we'll plant a church."
"Our worship is weak. Once our people develop more of a heart to worship, then they'll be ready to plant a church."
"When our members are more spiritually mature we'll plant a daughter church."
All of these desires are good. However, if a church waits for these things to come before they plant a daughter church, they may never see these desires fulfilled. We can best fulfill these desires through planting a daughter church. After church planting begins, the church develops more fully. This can help develop leaders, do evangelism, raise money, gain a heart for worship and produce spiritual maturity. Launching out by faith to plant a daughter church can bring the very health and vitality for which many churches are waiting! Go for it!
Kawit Baptist Church was planted in 1986, and reached a peak attendance of 50. When Pastor Arman dela Merced arrived in 1993, the church was down to only 8 members! Pastor Arman knew very well that's it's easier to give birth than to raise the dead. Knowing this, he determined to use this dying church to plant a new church. In just six months, they succeeded in planting a daughter church in Imus, with 60 members! But that's not all. Through giving birth, revival came to the church in Kawit. Membership reached 96!
Church planting can facilitate good relationships in your church
Juan and Juanita were madly in love. They became married and were as happy as could be at first. After two years they were still without a baby. This brought tension to their relationship. Juan began to complain often. "Bakit pare-pareho ang ulam natin gabi-gabi? Bakit laging matigas ang kanin? Bakit masyadong marami kang tagihawat?"
Juanita got a little bit tense herself. "O ikaw. Mas mahilig ka na sa basketbol kaysa sa akin. Laging nanonood PBA, MBA, NBA, WNBA. Puro BA, e!"
They were both focused on each other's faults.
Then, things changed. Buntis na si Juanita! The months passed, and Juan Junior was born. Tuwang-tuwa na sila!
Juan and Juanita's bickering stopped. The ulam and the kanin were the same. Marami pa ring tagihawat si Juanita. But Juan didn't notice. All of his attention was on Juan Junior.
Mahilig pa rin si Juan sa basketbol. But Juanita didn't notice. Busy na siya sa dede at diapers.
The same thing can happen in a church. A church not planting a daughter church can become very inward-focused. Members can begin to complain about each other. "Pastor's sermons are boring." "The Praise and Worship team needs more practice." "Tsismosa si Ate Emma." "Hindi marunong ang mga deacons." Maraming tampuhan!
A church that is planting a daughter church isn't focused on itself. All of their attention is on their anak. Yes, there are shortcomings within the church. But the focus isn't on complaining about shortcomings. The focus is on doing all they can to nurture their daughter church.
A good remedy for a "tsismis church" is to focus outward. Plant a daughter church!2
God blesses those who give
&Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Lk. 6:38)
God's blessing on those who give applies not only to individuals, but also to churches.
Planting a daughter church might require giving up some of your best members to serve on the church planting team. Others could become core members in a daughter church. It will cost money. But God blesses churches that give their members and money to plant daughter churches.
Damayan Bible Baptist Church (now Faith Baptist Church) in Pasig began in 1980 with 52 members. In 1982 they gave a group of members to plant their first daughter church. Nearly every year since then, they have planted another church this way. As they have done this, God has always returned more than they have given.
"Parang talbos ng kamote na pinutol," sabi ni Pastor Edwin Tan. Mahirap sa mga dalawa o tatlong buwan, lalo sa tithes and offerings. Pero pagkalipas ng kaunting panahon, may talbos ulit." More new members were added than were given away! This is in addition to planting new churches.
As of 1999, 16 daughter churches have been planted, directly from Damayan. The morning attendance has increased from 52 to 160, in spite of the many members given away. Including the apo (granddaughter churches) they now have 48 congregations! This church continues to give. As they do, they continue to receive God's blessing!
Love of Christ Ministries International had a large parking lot, kasya ang 40 sasakyan. However, the only vehicle to be seen there each Sunday was that of their founder. In 1992, they restructured their priorities, giving a greater emphasis to church planting. Members gave faithfully to support new church plants. As they did, God clearly began blessing their businesses. Before long, kulang na ang parking lot nila, dahil sa dami ng sasakyan!
More types of churches are needed
Every town is composed of different types of people. No single church can appeal to all residents. Because of this, different types of churches are needed.
Some people are "Silent Night" types. Others are "Joy to the World" types. Silent Night type people are more attracted to Silent Night type churches. Joy to the World type people are more attracted to Joy to the World type churches.
Ang mga taong maingay, mas gusto nila ang church na maingay. Ang mga taong tahimik, mas gusto nila ang church na tahimik din. The same goes for those who are intellectual, emotional, executives, laborers, and so on. We can reach more people if we have more types of churches. To saturate any area, several types of churches may be needed.
Greenhills Christian Fellowship was planted with a specialized target group in mind. It developed a ministry style that would appeal to the business executives of San Juan and Pasig. When planted, it was a different type of church from the others in the area. Many of those won to Christ would probably never have been reached by a typical church.
Have you ever been to the Food Court at SM Mega Mall? It's always full of people! Why? Dahil masarap? Medyo. Dahil mura? Hindi naman. It's because there are so many types of food offered by Jollibee, Sizzling Plate, Aristocrat, Maxim's, Kipp's Chicken, Pizza Hut, Iceberg, Bodhi, Lydia's Litson, Pancit Malabon and many more. Everyone knows they will probably find whatever fits their taste. So that's where they go.
What if only Jollibee was there? Or only Maxim's? Would as many people eat there? One type of restaurant will reach one type of taste. A big variety of restaurants will provide something for everyone.
It's similar with churches. More types of churches will reach more people.
In addition to reaching different types of people we also need to think about changes that come with new generations. The last generation's style of church may not be very effective in reaching the present generation. This generation's style of church may not effectively reach the next generation. For maximum effectiveness, each generation may need a different approach.
Can existing churches change? Maybe. But it's usually hard to change an existing church. Baka magkakaroon ng giyera sa church kung may babaguhin.
It seems that God continually raises up a new generation of leaders to reach a new generation of unbelievers. They usually plant new churches. Let's encourage this!
&"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
(Mt. 9:16- 17)
The message of the Gospel does not change. But styles always change. Without compromising biblical truth, we need new churches that keep up with the times.
If all churches were to change with the times, kawawa ang mga lola natin. They like their old ways. What's the solution? Plant new churches!
Everyone is welcome at any church. But most will end up where they fit in best. Most importantly, with more types of churches, we will reach many more unbelievers. Let's plant more types of churches!
It's the only way to fulfill the Great Commission
&Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Mt. 28:19-20)
To fulfill the Great Commission we have to "make disciples" of all types of people. Simply defined, a disciple is a "follower." A disciple is someone who follows and obeys Jesus.
Without a local church, it's impossible to make disciples.3 Making disciples includes "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This teaching takes place through the church. Disciples need to "obey." This includes regular participation in local church gatherings (Heb. 10:24-25). If there is no church to participate in, obedience to this is impossible!
The problem is that millions of Filipinos are out of reach of existing churches. Without more churches, these millions will not have a chance to become disciples. Many live far from any church. Others are from different cultures.
Can you think of a way to fulfill the Great Commission, within the Philippines alone, without planting more churches? There is no other way.
Some Christians, who are zealous for evangelism, travel to far flung areas to evangelize. Many receive Christ. But often, there is no church there. And no new church is planted. Those who were led to Christ are left behind. The fruit is lost. Sayang. Did they make disciples? Was the Great Commission fulfilled?
To conserve the fruit of evangelism, we must bring new believers into the church. This could be through an existing church, or through planting a new church. The only way to conserve the fruit of evangelism in places where there is no church is through church planting. Even in places where there is a church, we will normally conserve far more fruit from evangelistic efforts through planting new churches.4
There are still thousands of unchurchedbarangays in the Philippines
We can best disciple every Filipino if we have at least one church in every barangay. This is the vision of DAWN (Discipling A Whole Nation). It will be a glorious day when this becomes a reality! As of today, there are still many thousands of barangays without even one church. For example, none of the barangays in the northeast portion of Tanay, Rizal have a church.
To help you locate unchurched barangays for church planting, DAWN has prepared research information like the map of Tanay, on the next page, for the entire Philippines. To acquire tables, maps or other data, contact DAWN research (Philippine Challenge, P.O. Box 13919 OCPO, 1605 Ortigas Center, Pasig City; phone 655-1524, 240-3893; firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are many large barangays that need more churches
A typical barangay has a population of about 1,000. In these barangays, one church may be enough to reach that barangay. Other barangays are densely populated. In Cainta, where I live, Bgy. San Andres has 46,000. Bgy. San Isidro has 47,000. Bgy. San Juan has 61,000! The average church in the Philippines has a worship service attendance of 58. If there was just one average church in Bgy. San Juan, Cainta, that church probably will not be able to reach the whole population of 61,000! To reach the whole barangay, more churches are needed. Even though there is already a church in this barangay, it still needs more.
To determine which barangays need church plants, it's helpful to compare the population with the number of churches. In densely populated areas, a good target is to establish at least one church for every 1,000 people. So Bgy. San Juan, with a population of 61,000, would need 61 churches. Bgy. San Isidro, with a population of 47,000, would need 47 churches. The reason for this ratio is that a typical church of 58 can probably only reach out effectively to a population of 1,000.
In rural areas, where the population is more spread out, one church is needed for approximately every 500 people. Some barangays in the rural areas are small, less than 200. In these barangays, one church could be enough. Larger rural barangays could need more than one church. Bgy. Daykitin, Buenavista, Marinduque, has a population of 1,500. Ideally, they should have three churches.
We have many large barangays that have a church, but still need many more churches.
Church planting can help solve the traffic problem
Almost every city and large town in the Philippines now has a problem with traffic. Committed Christians will still participate in church no matter how much traffic they have to endure to get there. However, many unbelievers or weak new believers will not attend if they have to travel 2-3 kilometers through traffic. We need to make the church easily accessible. Now, more than ever, we need to plant a church near to every Filipino.
New churches can stimulate the growth of existing churches
When selecting target barangays for church planting our first priorities are the barangays that do not yet have a church. After that, our next priorities are the large barangays that have a church but need more.
When considering any barangay for a new church plant, the church planters should always meet the pastors of any nearby churches. They should get their advice, and develop a good relationship with them right at the start.
Unfortunately, some pastors neglect this. A pastor in our town began his message one Sunday morning. All of a sudden, there was music coming from next door. People began singing. "Ano kaya 'yon?" sabi ng pastor. It was a new church pala. They held their first worship service right next door to an established church! They never even took the time to meet anyone from the existing church!
Because there are so many thousands of barangays without even one church, new church plants should normally be located at a distance from existing churches.
When a church plant is opened, and there are existing churches in that town, this isn't bad for those existing churches. It can be good! New churches often stimulate the growth of existing churches.
Older churches can sometimes become complacent. New churches can wake them up. This is especially true if the newly planted church starts growing. This can create a sort of holy inggit. The new church can be a positive example. The existing church can often learn something about outreach from them.
A new church can have a positive effect on the community. As more are won to Christ, more residents are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. There is a stronger force to drive back the enemy. Vices are repented of. Idols are renounced. Crimes decrease. More demons in the place are defeated. The new church can make an impact on the community.
If a new church planting team comes to your area, welcome them! They are teammates, not competitors! They may reach people you would never reach. Praise the Lord. Don't be threatened. Team up with them. Help each other!
A new church planting missionary to Italy moved into the neighborhood of a veteran church planting missionary. The new missionary visited the veteran missionary in his home. He apologized for moving into the same neighborhood, and assured the veteran missionary that he would not interfere with any of his contacts. The veteran responded by saying, "I've been sharing the Gospel with my next door neighbor for fifteen years. If the Lord uses you to lead him to Christ, and not me, hallelujah! Lead as many people in this neighborhood to Christ as you can. Don't feel hindered by me in any way!"
When planting a new church, we not only bring life to unbelievers in the barangay. At the same time, we can also be beneficial to existing churches in the area.5
Church planting is the best way to reach unreached people groups
There are 14 unreached people groups remaining in the Philippines.6
A people group is considered "unreached" if there is no viable indigenous church within the group. By "viable" church we mean a minimum yet sufficiently developed indigenous church capable of evangelizing its own people without cross-cultural help.7
Our largest unreached people group is the Maranao (866,259). The smallest is the Molbog (7,940).8
These unreached people groups may possibly have a church near them. Unfortunately, however, if there is a church, it's probably suited for people of another culture.
Those from the unreached people group are very welcome to join any church near them, but it's not realistic to hope for this. If they were to join these churches, they would have to cross over into a new culture. Very few will do this.
A far better strategy is to plant churches for these unreached people groups right within their culture. The newly planted churches can use practices that are part of that culture. By doing this, these unreached peoples can become disciples without adopting a new culture. Most people prefer to become Christians within their own culture. We can provide this opportunity by planting new churches for them.
Church planting is the New Testament pattern
When we read the New Testament, we see church planting! In the Gospels Jesus said, "I will build my church" (Mt. 16:18). The book of Acts is filled with the church planting activities of the apostle Paul and others. The epistles are mainly letters to help newly planted churches or their leaders. Revelation was written to seven church plants.
Church planting is the main activity of the New Testament. It gives us the pattern to follow. The job isn't finished yet. Let's keep at it!9
Church planting provides a rewarding ministry for ordinary members
Praise the Lord for the many mega-churches we have in the Philippines! They are making a giant contribution to the discipling of the nation.
But mega-churches require mega-leaders. Not many can build a mega-church. Praise the Lord for Bishop Eddie Villenueva, Rev. Butch Conde, Rev. David Sobrepe๑a, and many others! However, these leaders are too few. They cannot reach the nation alone. Ordinary members who help plant ordinary churches are needed also! Maybe you are just an ordinary member. But you can help plant a daughter church!
Manny was just a faithful attender at our church in Mandaluyong. When we targeted his barangay for planting a daughter church, he began to help us there. When the church was established he became one of the main leaders. He gave a testimony at the church's first anniversary. "I was just an attender at our mother church," he shared. "I thank the Lord that through our new church here, I was given a chance to become a leader."
There are many Mannys in our churches. We may overlook many of them. They may be intimidated by more experienced leaders. Church planting opens up new opportunities and provides an excellent environment in which they can develop. Many will arise, if this opportunity is available.10
Church planting is the most effective evangelistic method under heaven
"It has been well substantiated by research over the past two or three decades: The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches. It holds true both on new ground and on old ground."11
This is a statement often used by the well-known professor of church growth, Dr. C. Peter Wagner.
Our priority targets for church plants are our unchurched barangays. Even in barangays with churches, the most effective way to reach unbelievers and bring them into the church is through planting new churches.
We need to continue to do all we can to help our existing churches to grow. At the same time, we need to plant churches. As we do, the greater growth will come through planting new churches.
There are persuasive reasons as to why church planting is so important. Become familiar with these. Share these reasons with groups and individuals every chance you get. If anyone questions whether your church should plant a new church, give them some of the reasons for church planting we have just seen!
1. In your opinion, what are some of the biggest benefits of planting a church through a mother church?
2. Name some of the older churches in your town. How is their growth? Name some of the newer ones. How is their growth?
3. Give an example of a church God has blessed, as they've used some of their people and financial resources to plant a daughter church or churches.
4. What are some different types of churches that may be needed in your town?
5. Do you agree with the statement, "Church planting is the only way to fulfill the Great Commission"? Why or why not?
6. How many barangays do you know of, in your town, which still have no church?
7. Does your town have any large barangays which need several churches? If so, which ones?
8. Scenario #1: In your barangay, there is an evangelical church within a fiveminute walking distance of every citizen. Scenario #2: In your barangay, everyone must travel 30 minutes through traffic to attend an evangelical church. How many people do you think would attend church in scenario #1? How many in scenario #2?
9. Who are some of the "Mannys" in your church who could possibly help start a daughter church?
The main thing to do now
At the end of each chapter, you will find a short section like this giving you a brief summary of the crucial actions you need to take to complete each step in planting your church.
Identify two or three reasons for planting churches which you think are most compelling. Memorize these. Use these reasons, every chance you get, to persuade others of the importance of church planting.
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