Why can’t Free Will Baptists plant 100 churches in the next 10 years?
I asked this question recently via twitter at the fwb21 panel in Memphis. The question was mentioned by the moderator, but just as a statement. But I’m seriously asking it. Why can’t we? Actually, I know the answer. It’s because we don’t have a clear vision to do so. There is no plan in place for making it happen. Churches don’t plant themselves.
So the better question might be: How can Free Will Baptists plant 100 churches in the next 10 years?
Before I share my idea, there are three things you should know.
First, notice that I’m not asking how we can plant 100 FWB churches. No, the question is how can FWB plant 100 churches. The emphasis here is on how our denomination can advance God’s kingdom, not the other way around.
Second, I am thankful for the strong foundation FWB have. There are many solid areas on which to build. I’m not as interested on why we don’t have a vision for planting churches and why we aren’t reproducing. I’m more interested in discussing how we can move forward.
Third, this article and idea only pertains to churches in the United States. We continue to send out missionaries to foreign countries. The FWB churches in other countries are multiplying. Glory to God for that work. But how can we make it happen here?
How can FWB plant 100 churches in the next 10 years?
Our churches must be willing to plant churches. This requires a shift in current ideology. Right now, we go to churches to raise monies, and churches support four, five, or twelve missionaries, both domestic and foreign. Instead of thinking support, we need to think multiplication. A healthy church should have it in their DNA to plant another church. They should be training a pastor and a group of people to go and plant a church in another neighborhood or another city.
If 100 churches determined to do this, it would happen. The problem is that we need a place to start. So here we go.
Hire Ed Stetzer (or another church planting guru) to invest in the lives of 10 pastors. Maybe this is a weekend retreat or a few months of virtual training. The goal is that those pastors will come away equipped to lead their church to plant a church. They will understand what it takes to train, equip, and fund a church plant. They will be knowledgeable about different church planting models. These pastors will not only lead their church to plant one church, but to continue to reproduce and plant many healthy churches over the years.
So how do we get to 100 churches in 10 years?
Repeat the above step. Continue to train pastors and church leadership on how to plant other churches, not just write checks for church planters.
This is different. I get it. But we need something different, because what we’re doing now is not effective. Should it really take a FWB church in the United States 11 years to become self-supporting? Should FWB only be planting a few new churches a year? If we want to help God’s kingdom grow, then we have to challenge and change the status quo.
But what about the Home Missions department?
I pray Home Missions would bring in someone who has been successful at church planting and train them to become more effective. But what if they don’t? Should we continue to watch churches close and numbers decline while continuing in the same path? I’m not a church planting expert, but don’t expect FWB to be a part of a massive growth for God’s kingdom if we aren’t willing to change what we’re doing. The hard truth is that we haven’t expanded God’s kingdom in the United States in the last 50 years.
This isn’t just a pipe dream for me. I believe it is a way for us to be the kingdom growers God intends us to be. Where do we start? I think we should create a network of like-minded FWB who wish to see a church planting revolution in our denomination. That network should create a plan of action, ask Home Missions if they would like to be a part, and continue regardless.
It’s time. Let’s go.