Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
2Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
New independent Baptist churches are necessary to the future of independent Baptist world missions for two reasons:
- Churches often grow old and change. It does not have to be so. There is no reason why a church could not stay strong generation after generation, preaching the same gospel from the same Bible, and holding to the same doctrinal positions and practices. But we know that this is not often the case. When a well-respected preacher of the 20th century was asked why he constantly promoted the planting of new churches, even in great cities that already had large and established churches, his simple answer was: “These churches will most likely grow old and change; we need to constantly start new churches to take their place.” This statement has proven true. Many of the great churches of the 20th century either no longer exist or do not resemble the churches that they once were.
- New churches winning new converts means greater potential for missions offerings as well as missionaries being called and sent out.
One reason that independent Baptists were able to jump to the forefront of world missions is because thousands of independent Baptist churches were started all across America, that supplied both missionaries and their support. However, statistics show clearly that church planting is at a 50 year low:
- From 1950-1969, 180 churches were started each year.
- From 1970-1989, 228 churches were started each year.
- From 1990-2008, only 141 churches were started each year.
The number of churches started in these 20-year timeframes:
- 1950-1969 – 3704 new churches.
- 1970-1989 – 4664 new churches.
- 1990-2008 – 2744 new churches.
If independent Baptists had continued their trend of church planting over the last twenty years, we would have seen anywhere from 1000 – 2000 new churches started! Many of those would now be turning twenty years old. We have to wonder what a difference one or two thousand new churches might have made in our nation.
One unintended consequence of failing in home missions is that foreign missions begins to suffer. New churches mean new converts; new converts mean new missions givers (as opposed to swapping church members’ missions giving from one church to another); new converts giving to missions will mean that some will surrender and go to the field. New missions money from new converts in new churches means that missionaries can raise support more quickly and stay more securely on the field.
I am NOT advocating the abandonment of foreign missions for home missions. I DO believe we have neglected home missions. As someone who tried to raise support for starting a new church back in 2000, I can testify that it is hard to get into churches as a church planter.
However, as a church planter, I can also testify that over the last 13 years, our new church has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions – money that used to go to down the drain into the world’s sewers – but is now given by new converts and new members who otherwise would not have been giving a dime to missions. The churches that invested in us for two or three years can see a multiplied return on their temporary investment through the ongoing missions program of the church they helped to start.
What does your church do for home missions/church planting? Do you support any church planters on a monthly basis? What about special offerings to help men starting new churches in your Judea or Samaria? Instead of waiting to see “if they make it,” help them to get planted.
One day, your children or grandchildren may be calling those churches to raise support to go to a foreign field.
Thank you for reading. God bless.