Church mergers and church plants represent good news and bad news. The bad news is that it seems more and more churches are declining and in need of a restart. Church plants represent the good news: we have a bourgeoning supply of young pastors who desire to give themselves to the raising up and shepherding of God’s flock. And because we have more prospective pastors than open pulpits, we plant churches. Praise God for this “problem”!
9Marks isn’t primarily in the business of offering church planting wisdom. We’re not a planting ministry. Nonetheless, we want to think briefly about what our DNA means in this context. Perhaps the most important thing we can say is what Nathan Knight and Matt McCullough say in their articles: a church plant is a church, and a church planter is a pastor.
This Journal considers church planting—its loneliness, its effect on sending churches, its demand for creativity in the midst of financial difficulty. We also offer a few creative ideas about how to plant a new church. We won’t spoil them, but pay particular attention to articles by Matthew Spandler-Davison and Colin Clark.
Our world needs more healthy churches, which means our world needs more faithful pastors who are planting churches—creating something out of nothing—and merging churches—creating something healthy out of something less-than-healthy. Each discipline comes with a list of attenuating challenges and blessings; each requires an identical dependence on preaching the Word, praying, and sharing the gospel.
There’s more to be said, and we hope you’ll read on.
—Jonathan Leeman & Alex Duke