One of the most common questions a new church planter might hear is, “Aren’t there already enough churches in this town?”
And because it’s important for me as a planter to know why I’m planting, and because those who are asking deserve a good answer, I’ve given it a lot of thought.
Most cities and towns in America have numerous Churches, each differing in style, denominational affiliation, size and scope of mission.
It’s no different in my city of Bath, Maine. There are already 6-7 well established Churches here. So how can I justify coming to a small town of under 10,000 people and planting another Church? It comes down to the fact that I’m asking a different question altogether, one that I believe is far more important; one that will lead to far greater Kingdom impact.
I’m asking, are there still lost people in this city? And the answer is a resounding YES. There are souls to be saved, disciples to be made, Christians to be strengthened and sent out with the Gospel.
That is why New City Church, though only one among many, is needed in Bath. It’s because the mission is large, the harvest is plentiful, and there is not one church or ministry that can do it all. In fact, it was Jesus himself that commanded us to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more laborers in each harvest field. Praying this way keeps us focused on the vastness of the harvest as well as the constant need for more laborers. Thinking this way will keep Churches from becoming stingy, territorial and bitter.
New City Church has come to labor in the fields. We joyfully acknowledge that there are others here who have labored longer and have been faithful to the mission of the gospel. But we also know that the work is far from over and that the surface of souls won for Jesus has barely been scratched.
The vision is different, but not for the sake of being different. God has spoken something uniquely to my heart as a planter, as He does each and every church-planter. My family, the elders and congregants that God will call me to lead and shepherd are all unique. Our gifts are different. Our backgrounds are different. And God will use these differences to reach people that the Church down the street isn’t reaching. Just as they will reach people we simply cannot reach, and that’s ok. That is God’s design and it’s beautiful.
We also recognize that in many cases there is an “old wine skin” mentality. The Spirit of God is on the move everywhere, seeking to bring freshness and newness of life in the hearts of man. Many times it just the newness of something that people, most often Christians, are unwilling to accept.
Fortunately, in large part, that has not been the case here in Bath. Though not all have come with open arms, many have. Pastors and leaders from both denominational and non-denominational tribes have welcomed me and my family, prayed with me in my church office and in the local coffee shop. I met with a long term minister/missionary and founder of a local Christian camp who expressed gratefulness to our vision and mission here. One retired ministry couple of a well known local church called to say they have been praying for more help in Bath and offered to introduce me to their team so as to pray together. These have all been like breaths of fresh air and have brought more excitement to our mission. But for those who still don’t quite understand why we need more Churches here in Bath, or in any place for that matter, may you search the face of Christ and find compassion for the lost.
As New City Church continues to build a core and pray through the early phases of our mission, we will seek to emphasize three areas that we strongly believe represent the new skin into which God’s Spirit can flow. Disciple-making, deeply theological but relevant preaching of the Word that strengthens the body, and a sense of family togetherness that stretches outside of the church walls with the Gospel to the lost world around us. By the power of God’s Spirit and through faithfulness in prayer, I believe New City Church will greatly impact Bath for the Glory of God.
About The Author.
Joel is currently living in Maine and planting New City Church with his wife and 4 kids. His latest book, Beeline to the Cross, came out this summer and can be purchased through Amazon. He regularly blogs on discipleship, Church life, Christian family and doctrine at www.madetomakedisciples.com.