“Why plant churches?” is a question all of us in “church plant world” get asked and love to answer. I get it on airplanes, in board rooms, at mission committee meetings, and in all kinds of informal settings. And, like most of my colleagues in this ministry business, I usually answer with some form of Wagner’s statement about church planting being the most effective strategy available for accomplishing God’s purpose in the world.
But the analysis of effectiveness is really trumped by the inspiration of the stories. Having a front row seat to what God does when a church planter engages a new community is downright thrilling. For instance Joe McGrew, a planter in Collinsville, IL, tells a story about a woman collecting aluminum cans on Saturday when she encountered a new church block party.
“Shelly is a lady who walks around with her husband during the week and collects aluminum cans to bring in extra money for bills and other basic needs. She stopped by the block party we had on Saturday and we told her to finish her route and come back and we would set aside cans for them. We did. They came and collected the bag, grabbed some lunch, and left. She came Sunday morning (to our first preview service) alone, but she was smiling and seemed to have a genuine excitement to be there. One of our staff women recognized her and walked up to say hello. Shelly proceeded to tell her that on their way home Saturday after the block party, her husband said, ‘Now that is a church I would go to.’ Her husband hates what church stand for and has always refused to go no matter what the circumstances. Who knew a few aluminum cans and some free food could knock down years of bitterness towards God and the church?”
Who knew! As a support person for this new church, I’m not sure the metrics of attendance, offerings, even baptisms has more power than the initial change of heart in Shelly’s husband. Being the church in the community, this new launch team has already started helping God transform hearts. Engaging people like Shelly and her husband in a conversation about life starts changing the way they view Jesus and His Body, the church. What could be better than that?
That’s why we plant churches. That’s what makes God smile. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!