by Rev. Gary Lindley*
Starting new churches embodies the Great Commission of Jesus to take his message to all people. New church starts serve as mission stations for the Kingdom of God. Established churches play a vital role in fulfilling this call, but new church starts reach new people in ways established churches may not.
Studies show that churches established at least 10 to 15 years earlier gain 80 to 90 percent of new members through transfers from other churches and denominations. But 60 to 80 percent of new members in new church starts come from the unchurched. (stats from Tim Keller, “Church Planter Manual,” p. 50.) The value of starting new churches to reach new people is clear. As the numbers who claim the name “unchurched” continue to grow, the opportunity for new church starts to reach these people continues to grow as well.
In 1980, the Central Texas Conference began its concentrated effort to plant new churches in Central Texas to introduce new people to the love of Jesus Christ. In that time, the Conference’s Center for Evangelism and Church Growth has planted more than 40 churches that now account for more than 10 percent of the worship attendance within the Central Texas Conference.
The investment of resources in starting new churches is a witness to the desire of our conference to be faithful and obedient to Christ’s call. Our SHAREHOLDER program gives you the opportunity to support this desire by investing your resources in the future of the United Methodist Church in the Central Texas Conference. Every dollar you invest through a SHARE purchase goes directly to planting new churches in Central Texas. Some of the ways your dollars are used include:
- Paying the salaries of new church start pastors
- Renting worship space in a school, community center or other space
- Investments in sound equipment, computers and other needs to launch worship
- Day-to-day expenses incurred by pastors as they travel throughout their community to develop relationships
February will be Church Growth SHARE Month during which you will be hearing more and learning more about how your support of the SHAREHOLDER program can help the Central Texas Conference plant new churches. To invest in the future of the United Methodist Church in the Central Texas Conference by purchasing Church Growth Shares now, follow this link (www.ecgctc.org). In the meantime, you can learn more about the current new church starts in the Central Texas Conference on the Center for Evangelism and Church Growth website (www.ecgctc.org).
Let your investment in the Church Growth SHAREHOLDER program be your witness to making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
Gary is the executive director of the CTC Center for Evangelism & Church Growth and a regular contributor to ctcumc.org. firstname.lastname@example.org