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Why Plant New Churches?

A couple of weeks ago Joy asked me something along the lines of why should we consider Asheville Hope a church plant? What makes us a church plant? That's a really great question, and one that deserve a fuller answer than the one I gave at the time. I'm going to attempt to be as brief as possible:


A vigorous and continuous approach to church planting is the only way to guarantee an increase in the number of believers, and is one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ. (Timothy Keller, 2002)
  1. The Great Commission is not only to make disciples or to share our faith, but also to baptize. Just as with circumcision, baptism is the act that happens indicating incorporation into the visible church community (cf. Acts 2:41-47). The Great Commission, therefore, is a call to plant churches, growing new communities who "wholly belong to him whose mark and sign we bear" (Belgic Confession, Article 34). This, also, aligns with the New Testament pattern. In Acts 13, the church in Antioch caught the vision for church planting and commissioned Paul and Barnabas to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

  2. New churches best reach not-yet Christians. In established churches it is easy to sit back and let the "professionals" do all the work of preaching, discipleship, evangelism, counseling, etc. Church plants have to ability to engage the entire community to begin thinking about what is required to reach the neighbors around them. The nature of church planting also challenges our me-centeredness, our reflexive tendency to revert to what we are comfortable with. In starting something from the ground up, we are forced to examine all of our assumptions and traditions.

  3. Young adults are disproportionately found in new churches. Given that the younger you are, the less likely you are to affiliate with any religion, this is important to consider. Established churches - even those who earnestly want to reach younger generations - struggle to do so. This goes well beyond the type of music we sing, and all the way down to foundations. Church plants allow younger adults to "be in on" building something from the ground up.

  4. Church planting grows our faith. We get very comfortable with what we are comfortable with. We may occasionally pray for great movements of the Spirit, but we rarely expect them. Church planting puts us in a placed to cry out to God to do something that seems impossible: bring His Kingdom to Asheville in a mighty, powerful, and noticeable way.

  5. Church planting is a visible expression of the Body of Christ. Most churches have an abundance of dormant gifting, untapped, unappreciated, not asked for. Established churches allow for members to be consumers. In church planting, there is a real sense that if the entire community isn't active the effort with fail.

These are my top five reasons for being passionate about church planting. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope gives some more context to the "why" behind church planting. For those interested, below is some of the more recent data on the decline of church attendance and adherence in the U.S.


  • U.S. adults who identify as Christian: 65% (2020) down from 77% (2009).

  • Practicing Christians: 25% (2020) down from 45% (2000).

  • Weekly church attendance: 29% (2022) down from 45% (1993).

  • Children raised in a Christian home who fall away from faith by age 30: 1 in 3.

  • % of adults who claim no religious affiliation: 30% a steep increasing that is projected to be as high as 52% in another generation.











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