Here is a conversation from a couple of years back.
"So.... I hear you are meeting with a church in your home now (said awkwardly)... Why did you leave your other church?"
I responded that our new church was currently meeting in my living room and that I actually was still serving and attending at the church I helped to plant...
Then she said, "Don't you think there are enough churches...?" I simply replied, "Nope." She stared at me with a look that held with it the message that I might be out of my mind.
There are plenty of misunderstandings and questions in reference to church planting. Here are 10 of the most popular ones that I've personally run across. It is my prayer that people's misconceptions get cleared up so that they can properly love and support church plants in their communities.
1. Church plants are full of dissatisfied people from other churches
I wish this wasn't the case, but it can be if we aren't careful. Eighty percent of church growth is 'transfer growth' in any church. This means four out of five people who visit a church fellowship come with the baggage of dissatisfaction.
Reasons for leaving a church can be good... but there are many times when something under the surface needs dealt with. Some planters I know will even push for reconciliation with a christian who left a church on bad terms. Not all people in a church plant are dissatisfied Christians.
2. Church plants aren't legit unless they meet in a church
In the book of Acts, churches met wherever they could find a space to fellowship and hear exhortation about Jesus through God's word... this included homes, the outdoors, Jewish gathering places, and public buildings. Church structures are great, but they aren't mandated throughout the Bible.
3. Church plants steal committed Christians from other churches
Established churches seldom like it when people from their church leave to serve God in the same town or region. It is truly rare to meet a local pastor with enough gospel confidence to push their people to leave in order to expand the kingdom through a church plant. Yet, the churches I've seen do this have experienced numeric growth when they 'lost' people to getting local church plants off the ground.
4. Church plants dislike established churches in their communities
Most planters have a great heart for the churches and pastors in their towns. For instance, in one community we meet monthly to pray with the other pastors in town and encourage each other in the missions that God is calling us to. Another planter I know prays for the other churches in their area by name in their weekly gathering.
5. Church plants don't want to help the other churches in the community to grow... or else they would stick it out and help in existing churches.
Church plants tend to seen FIVE times as many conversions as established churches on an annual basis. If this is true for church plants in your community that means Jesus' church is growing more rapidly because they are there. Praise God for them and the evangelistic edge that God gives many of them.
6. Church plants think that they are better than everyone else
This is the case in some church plants. Yet, I have found this to be true in many established churches as well. Most of us think that our church is the 'best' and we give our list of why it's true (music... ministries... programs... structures... bla..bla..bla). The reality is that God wants his churches to ALL be the best in the knowledge, heart, and living out of the gospel... everything else can be important but is rubbish by comparison.
7. Church plants lead to further fragmentation of the church
This is a legitimate concern because this is what it may look like to the surrounding community. Yet, the majority of churches are decreasing in our communities and are on the defensive. We need more churches that are growing... even if it costs this perception. Because of this, church planters need to fight to be united with Jesus-loving churches in their community.
8. Church plants are a waste of money
It absolutely can be true! The church is a waste of money if it isn't reaching the lost and driving the gospel deep into the souls of its people. This is true for all churches not just church plants.
For the record, many church plants are expensive because they want to start with all the toys and programs of established churches... but this isn't necessary unless your primary motivation is to be 'the best' like those mentioned in point #6.
9. Church plants have no accountability
This could be an issue but isn't for many planters today. Even if there are only a dozen people, there is typically a system of accountability. It can take many forms (board of elders, sending church elders, denominational oversight, network oversight). Church planters and pastors can't exist on their own because they are faulted and are not Jesus.
10. Church planting is a fad
It will be a fad until the return of Jesus and then it will no longer be necessary. I am fully convinced that church plants are (and have been) a mighty tool in the hand of our God to build his church.
Time will tell if the planting in your community will slow down, but let's pray that it doesn't and that more gospel centered churches are launched in and from your community for the glory of Jesus and the expansion of His church.