What I say when people ask me, “Why do we need more churches?”

When Life Centre Church first moved to North Lakes, one of the guys on the setup crew, got into a conversation with a Christian couple who were out on a prayer walk with some other members of their church.

When he told them that we were a new church that had recently moved into the area, they shook their heads. “North Lakes doesn’t need more churches” they said. “We need to support the churches that are already here and established.”

My first response to this is that I want to honour faithful Christians who, like this couple, are out in their neighbourhoods, faithfully praying that hearts would be transformed by Jesus, for people to be set free by the gospel, and for their church pews to be full again. However I also cringe whenever I hear people talking this way, partly because that’s exactly how I used to think. 

Now I get it—I really do; the question is valid: Why invest resources into new churches, when there is an already established church in that same area? The prospect of a new Church moving into the neighbourhood can sometimes make people nervous. The simple answer to this is that we need a change of heart. We need to understand the gravity of the passages where Jesus commissions and sends his disciples out (Matt 29:18—20; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). We need to feel the weight of the tragedy of lost people facing eternity without Christ. We need recognise our need for God to supply the growth, not try and create growth ourselves (1 Cor 3:6).

The simple reality is that Church Planting is the most effective way of reaching unsaved people. Tim Keller says it this way, 

“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.”

This isn’t to say that we should neglect or abandon churches that are struggling or diminishing in size, but the church as a whole is blessed and grows from the planting of new congregations. Here are three reasons why: (1) It rejuvenates the Christian—it provides an opportunity and a reason for [sometimes dormant] Christians to grow as disciples and step into areas of ministry that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. (2) It rejuvenates the church—for both the sending church and surrounding churches, nearby church planting activity can revitalise [sometimes dormant] congregations. And (3) it brings focus to the important things—church plants rely on new converts for growth, and therefore evangelism and discipleship are front and centre for the new church. Why do we need more churches? Because the harvest is crazy plentiful!

How this applies to what we’re doing at Caloundra:

If you were to draw a circle that started at Pelican waters, went out to the Bruce Highway, as far north as Currimundi, out to the beaches and back down to where you started, you would find within that circle 43,652 people (compare that to 346,000 if you went as far north as Noosa), and approximately seventeen churches. Which means that to reach the region, each church would need to grow from the size that they are now to more than 2500 people. 

The average size church in Australia is 121. So what if, instead of trying to grow each church to 2500, we instead focus on planting more churches. If this was our strategy, we would have to say that the Caloundra region needs 343 more churches planted to reach everyone, and to fulfil the Great Commission.

That’s not including the fact that 50,000 people are expected to move into Caloundra West (Aura) in the next 20 years (which would further increase the stats and the need for churches), and it also doesn’t include anything north of Wurtulla (Kawana, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Buderim, Noosa, etc). 

I have other reasons that I believe in church planting, but on these facts alone, WE NEED TO PLANT MORE CHURCHES!! This isn’t about LCC. It’s about God’s Kingdom on the Sunshine Coast. 

Other resources that helpful:

http://download.redeemer.com/pdf/learn/resources/Why_Plant_Churches-Keller.pdf

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200004/012_most_successful.cfm

http://malyon.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/The-Church-Planting-Challenge.pdf

Jimmy Smith-Cottrell