Written by Dr. Bruce McAllister, Director of Ministry Relations
Traveling across the country reminds me of just how big America is! God is so interested in the souls of people all across this great land and the whole world as well. We need to keep before ourselves the big picture. While parts of the U.S. have a good number of sound, biblical churches, other areas are still in great need of fundamental churches. Our burden is to share specific needs with those who could make a difference in meeting the great need.
I know of at least seven good reasons to plant more churches:
- Church planting is God's way of spreading the Gospel and establishing a community-based discipling agency. The driving issue in church planting is fulfilling the Great Commission.
- Church planting is an "open door opportunity," especially for the entry-level pastor.
- Church planting expands the personnel and financial base for foreign missions.
- Church planting is needed during this time of doctrinal defection, ecclesiastical compromise, sinking standards, and spiritual lethargy.
- Church planting provides an opportunity to establish a Christ-centered, Bible-based ministry independent of mainline denominational entanglements.
- Church planting is the Lord's will for some men.
- Church planting is desperately needed in many American communities.
Our best efforts have determined that there appear to be approximately 10,000 fundamental churches in the U.S.A. The vast majority of these churches were established in the twentieth century with the rise of the independent, fundamental movement in response to the onslaught of liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, and new evangelicalism. The overwhelming majority of these churches are independent Baptist or Bible churches. There are many fine young people from these churches being educated in Christian schools or home schools, making good decisions in the many Christian summer camps, and eagerly training in the fundamental colleges and seminaries to serve the Lord. I believe that God is stirring many toward missions and church planting. I sense a growing desire among pastors to plant churches both nationally and internationally. In short, I believe that we are in a day of golden opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel through church planting.
The 2010 U.S.A. Census reports that the overall population increased by 9.7% (27.3 million people) since 2000. The 2010 U.S.A. population was 308.7 million. A pastor might ask, "Has my church kept up with the national or regional population increase? Are new fundamental churches being planted at a rate which even begins to keep up with the demands of population growth, not to mention the already existing population?" Unfortunately, the answer is obvious.
Churches should be planting churches! Pastors should be leading their churches to plant more churches regionally, nationally, and internationally. Young men studying for the ministry should open their hearts to the call of church planting. Colleges and seminaries should be equipping church planters and inspiring church planting vision. Pastors should be mentoring church planters as they come out of school seeking God's direction. Laymen should be challenged to team up with church planters and to relocate to assist in this great task.
Smaller, Western Towns
We have identified many communities in the U.S.A. with no known fundamental churches within a 30-mile radius, to the best of our knowledge. Almost all of these communities are in the western United States. Additional on-site investigation would be needed to fully verify the need. A variety of church planting models could be used to reach these needy areas—mother/daughter, missionary, partnership, Bible study, bi-vocational, or pioneer church planting.
Many American cities have fundamental churches, but still have a great need for church planting. This is because the number of people is very great compared to the small number of known fundamental churches. We have identified 62 important cities that appear to be in need of more fundamental churches.
Major Metropolitan Areas
Over eighty percent of the American people live in metropolitan areas! We have identified 15 specific sections that appear to have few, if any, known fundamental churches. Please understand that some of these cities will have several fundamental churches, but not in the specific section of the city we have noted. Additional on-site investigation would be needed to fully verify the need.
Dr. McAllister has taught church planting at BJU for many years. If you would like to discuss church planting needs and strategies, please call Dr. McAllister at (864) 242-5100, Ext. 2850. During the school year he is usually available Monday through Friday, 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. EST.