What does a church produce?

Joel Nelson

Interim Transition Team, Converge North Central

  • Church planting & multiplication

What does an apple tree produce? Apples of course! But that’s an incomplete answer. Apple trees also produce more apple trees.

That Honeycrisp you enjoyed at lunch is not the end goal for the tree. It’s what inside of the apple…the seeds. The apple is a package, a container for the seeds. 

And what do these seeds become? Not just apples, but apple trees. Within each apple are seeds designed to produce more apple trees. Apple trees exist to produce more apple trees. 

What does a church produce?
More and better disciples of course! But that’s an incomplete answer. Churches also are to produce more churches. Like the apple tree, every church contains seeds to produce more churches. Healthy, multiplying churches in turn produce more disciple and better disciples and more healthy multiplying churches, and so on and so on!

There has never been a greater need and opportunity to plant more churches. Every year, more churches are closing in America than are being started. Add into this an increase in the population and a decrease in those who identify themselves as having no relationship with any church, and it’s even more obvious of the opportunities and challenges that are before us. 

New churches are effective in reaching the lost. Tim Keller has written the single best way to reach non-Christians is to start new churches. He goes on to say: “it (church planting) is the single most crucial strategy for the numerical growth of the body of Christ and the continued corporate renewal and revival of the church in a city.”[1] Well beyond the city, the planting of new churches is also crucial to reaching under-served ethnic communities through our urban, suburban, and rural cities and towns. 

Ongoing multiplication of new churches is in alignment with the Biblical pattern found in the New Testament. Paul was the first church planter. He and the other disciples spread out and began new churches. Most of the churches recorded in the New Testament were involved in sending people or resources in some form or another to start new churches. 

New churches benefit the whole body. “It’s a great mistake to think that we have to choose between church planting and church renewal. Strange as it may seem, the planting of new churches in a city is one of the best ways to revitalize older churches in the vicinity and renew the whole body of Christ.” [2]

A final benefit is the role church planting has in the thriving of our larger movement. Ed Stetzer writes that for a movement to thrive, it has to plant churchesTo break even it needs to plant at a 3% level. To grow? That requires 5%. For a movement of churches to thrive, a 10% church planting rate is needed. Currently, Converge North Central consists of approximately 250 congregations. To continue at this level, we would need to see between 7 and 8 new churches annually. To thrive as a movement means 25 new churches a year. [3]

Converge North Central, in coordination with the 10 other districts that make up Converge, have an audacious goal to plant 312 churches over the next 5 years as a part of a Converge church planting surge. 

We know every church can do something with church planting. This may be the most important point of this post. Your church may not be in a season to play a significant role on a team that is parenting a new church. But every church can support a church planter through intentional prayer and financial support. Every church can help identify potential church planters and communities in need of additional Gospel witness. Every church can be an encouragement to a new church or a church planter family. 

Recently, an email was sent to every church in Converge North Central asking them to prayerfully consider their involvement in this church planting surge. Included were a number of ways each church could increase their commitment in being a part of seeing new churches started. Within the email was a link for each church to respond with how they would like to be a part of this multiplication effort. Click here to be taken to the response page. 

johnny-appleseedDid you know Johnny Appleseed was a real person? His real name was John Chapman and was an “evangelist” for apples. He wanted everyone to enjoy apples as much as he did. But he didn’t go across the eastern and central states of America passing out apples. No, he planted apple trees. 

Believing in the importance of seeing new churches started means that church planting is more than just an activity for one segment of Converge North Central churches to be participate in. It’s something every one of our churches should be involved in at some level. Like Johnny Appleseed, every church should view the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ as not just passing out apples, but it also includes the planting of trees so even greater numbers of people can share the Good News and plant even more trees!

For more information or question on the church planting surge, or about church planting in Minnesota or Iowa, contact Joel Nelson.

[1] Why Plant Churches https://download.redeemer.com/pdf/learn/resources/Why_Plant_Churches-Keller.pdf

[2] Keller, Why Plant Churches

[3] Ed Stetzer, https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/june/need-for-more-church-planting.html

Joel Nelson, Interim Transition Team, Converge North Central

Interim Transition Team

Additional articles by Joel Nelson