Jenna and I call the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex home. Metroplex is the coined expression for this sprawling suburban metropolis of 6.4 million people centrally located in the heart of the Bible belt. It’s that fact combined with an 11% growth rate that makes this area of the country tempting for any aspiring preacher to plant a church.
So, it’s no wonder that aside from bills, church mailers are the second most common piece of paper I find in our mail box. The latest postcard I received got me thinking…do we really need another church in the metroplex?
Consider the fact that there are approximately 350,000 churches in America. I did the math…that’s one church for every 868 people. That broad penetration, or saturation J, has enabled the American church to reach 83.5% of the population leaving only 143 people left for each church to find and share the gospel with (http://www.outreachmagazine.com/ and http://www.joshuaproject.net/).
The obvious conclusion…America probably doesn’t need another church. It just needs the current 350,000 to work together to do a better job of reaching, touching, and pastoring a population that is easily within its reach. Unfortunately we don’t play well together. We are too caught up in our own marketing, branding, and competition to realize that fulfilling the great commission in America is an easily achieved goal.
Today we plant churches on top of one another and willingly accept the fact that the majority of the new attendees were attending somewhere else weeks earlier. We call it church growth, but I question the fruit. I’ve witnessed first hand how Mega-churches have sprung up in the Metroplex at the cost of many mini-churches. We’ve celebrated their mega-growth, attended their mega-conferences, and have strived to duplicate their mega-franchise. I assume we won’t be satisfied until there is a church and Starbucks on every corner. One might observe that the true great commission must be to go into the world and plant a church rather than make disciples,
We are great at doing our own thing, but don’t know how to do the “one” thing. We don’t know how to be unified, we don’t know how to work together, we don’t know how to be one. We are just like the disciples sitting around the table arguing and competing with one another to be greater, failing to realize the imminence of the cross.
The tragic thing is that every pastor, leader and member that I meet seem to agree that this is the case for everyone…with the exception of themselves.
So for all the would be church planters, for all church leaders let me remind us all of a few facts that we know within the core of our beliefs but tend to lose during the practice of building the church.
1.) It’s a calling not a career
You and I are positioned within His church at His call. We serve at the Kings pleasure. This isn’t some career choice that we just entered into. He called us into His service!
2.) It’s a commission not compensation
Our chief goal should be to achieve the great commission, “To go into all the world and preach the gospel to all people.” Not to work to receive a pay check, or recognition. In fact, when we receive reward here on earth, don’t expect a reward in heaven.
3.) It’s a church not a corporation
The church is a living, organic body. It should be built upon apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. It should recogonize that it is strengthened when each member of the body works together to accomplish the commission.
I believe that we could achieve those things when each person, member or minister learns to recognize that…
The church needs your energy not your ego
The church needs your compassion not your competition
The church needs your sacrifice not your self
The church needs your service not your service
One final note: There is a great need for church planters. If you truly feel called to plant a church where one is needed consider the fact that there are 1 billion unreached people in China, 960 million in India, and an Arab world that is 70-97% unreached. I understand that going onto the mission field probably wont give you the opportunity to build your partnership base, create a television ministry, or write a New York Times best seller. Though it will put you in the midst of the greatest need. Most