The call of our Lord to His disciples was to evangelize the world. One of the major methods of evangelization was to plant churches. Jesus said in Matthew 16, “I will build my church.” In Acts 8:1-8, the church had become ingrained in its ministry in Jerusalem. The Lord's call was to start at Jerusalem but then go into Judea, Samaria and then the uttermost part of the earth. After many years of staying in Jerusalem, after the Pentecostal experience, the church was still centered around Jerusalem, but God created a situation that allowed persecution to come to the church to move them into Judea and Samaria. God is calling on His church to move from our Jerusalems and to plant churches in other cities where the gospel needs to be preached. We encourage every Pentecostal Free Will Baptist pastor, preacher, and church member to help us to fulfill the call of God to plant churches. Help us by praying for God to send the church planter. Pray for the resources to see these church planter's needs are met and pray that souls will be won to Christ.
Excerpt from The State of the Church Address General Conference 2006
- By General Superintendent Preston Heath
- From The Messenger, October 2006 Issue
I - Where We Are and What We Know About Church Planting
We know that during the 1990’s American churches lost 2,765 people annually, while America lost 72.11 churches per week and opened only 24 per week.
We know that “No county in the US has a higher percentage of churched people than it did 10 years ago.” (Charles Arn)
We know that America ranks third behind China and India in the number of unsaved people. We are the third largest nation in the world in need of evangelism. There are more than 200 million un-churched people in America. We are only second to Brazil in the number of missionaries received. (Arden Adamson)
We know that when most of our churches started, 85% of the American people lived in the country and small towns. Only 15% lived in cities. Today the opposite is true. Recent generations have moved to the city to go to college and to find work.
We know that new churches grow faster than older churches. C. Peter Wagner said, “The single most effective way to evangelize is to plant a new church.”
We know that the priority and the mandate of God for the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church is the “Great Commission.” It is Jesus our commander-in-chief that commands and commissions us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The PFWB Church has stretched and pushed our people to give financially and will continue to do so, that we might preach the Word and plant churches in foreign lands. God had honored us with an abundant harvest in mission ministry. Now our mission fields are sending missionaries to other countries to evangelize the lost. What a harvest God has given to us.
For us to continue to grow globally we must grow locally. Lyle Schaller said, “There are two primary reasons evangelical church organizations in America have started; to plant new churches and to send out foreign missionaries…. Whenever a church organization moves away from one or both of these missions; without exception it goes into decline.”
In 2002, I called for a Church Planting Task Force to be formed under the leadership of the World Witness Department. Together we developed a strategy we call, “Bridging the Gap.” Five years ago, “Bridging the Gap” was just a vision. Today, God is helping us to “Bridge the Gap” in several areas.
We targeted the five fastest growing population centers that are near our existing churches and began to bridge the gap between those existing churches by planting new churches. Let’s see what God has done in the last few years.
In the Raleigh, North Carolina area Randy and Gwen Carter have launched Rolesville Community Church (formerly WakePointe Church).
In the Wilmington, NC/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area we have seen two churches planted. Tony Phillips has launched Eternal Life Church in Little River, SC and Jerome Bullard is launching a new church in Leland, NC-Bridge of Life Community Church.
The General Board of Directors has approved the establishment of the State of Virginia as a District. In the District of Virginia we have Theresa Ramsey that launched Hosanna Fellowship in Stafford; Michael and Gloria Howard that have started Solid Rock Ministries in Mechanicsville. Charles Jury answered the call to begin New Christian Life Fellowship in Clearfield, Pennsylvania which will be part of the Virginia District.
God in His sovereignty called Lynn McLauren to plant a church in his home community of South River, near Fayetteville, NC - South River Community Church.
Where are we going with Church Planting in the next two year? We are increasing our concentration on planting churches in Virginia.
Pastor Jim Wall and the Western Branch Community Church are stepping forward to become more involved with church planting in Virginia. They have assisted Michael and Gloria Howard in planting Solid Rock Ministry in Mechanicsville, Virginia and currently have begun meetings with Theresa Ramsey and the congregation at Hosanna Fellowship to poise that congregation for 21st century ministry.
World Witness Director Dock Hobbs is discussing with ministers ideas of planting churches in Lumberton, Chadbourne, and the Charlotte areas of North Carolina and more.
Brother Hobbs will focus on three areas of Church Planting. First, he will continue to give overall supervision to the World Witness Department and church planting efforts. Second, he will continue to lead the Church Planting Task Force in developing and adopting strategies for church planting and see that those strategies are successful. Third, he will continue to scout for and develop church planters in our movement.
We must remember that big changes are accomplished best by small changes. The biblical principle of sowing and reaping is being realized in church planting even as we speak.