So why another church?
This is a great question. The fact is that we do live in an area of the country where there seem to be churches everywhere. So why not simply join with what God is already doing in those existing churches? We have actually done a good bit of thinking and praying about this question and have come up with several reasons why we feel that God is directing us to plant a new church in the Bluff Park area of Hoover. The following is a summary of just a few of those reasons.
First, a couple of quotes:
“North America is the only continent in the world where the church is not growing,” Eric Ramsey – Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“ The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes–will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.”
Tim Keller – Sr. Pastor Redeemer Presbyterian Church Manhattan
Some general facts:
■ Between 50 and 75 U.S. churches close their doors every week.
■ More than 80% of the churches in the U.S. have plateaued or are declining.
■ In the United States alone, there are over 200 million unchurched people, making the U.S. the third largest mission field in the world.
■ Since 1991, the number of adults in the U.S. who do not attend church has nearly doubled.
■ The largest unreached people group in America are the twenty-somethings.
■ 51.9 million people in the U.S. between the ages of 20-38 are not connected with the existing churches. (Gallup Poll)
■ Eight million twenty-somethings alive today will no longer attend church by the time they turn 30.
■ Our nation (a Christian nation) leads the world in every category of violent and domestic crime and social decay. (NationBuilder.com)
That’s great general information, but what about for us specifically? Why do we feel called to plant another church in Hoover, AL?
1) Because planting new churches is the Biblical norm of Kingdom growth
As in everything that we do at Bluff Park Community Church, we seek for our foundation to be in the Word of God. Throughout the New Testament, both in Jesus’ “Great Commission” and in the acts of his followers moving forward throughout human history, the methodology behind the mission has been to carry the gospel forward by the planting of new churches.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus instructions are not simply a call to international missions or to personal evangelism (though it certainly includes these things), rather it is a call to “make disciples”, to “baptize” and to “teach them” to observe Christ’s commands. It is evident throughout the pages of Scripture that these actions are to take place by incorporation into a particular worshipping community, the local church.
The planting of new churches is also the clear paradigm of kingdom growth throughout the New Testament church. As we observe the actions of Jesus’ followers, particularly through the ministry of the apostle Paul, we observe them not merely seeking individual worshippers, but rather planting worshipping communities, churches. When people did respond to the preaching of God’s word, they were “added to the number” (Acts 2:47) of existing believers in that area. Paul’s missionary journeys were all church planting endeavors where he entered a region, preached the gospel, and established new churches where those young believers could be discipled, and instructed in the faith.
We seek to plant a new church in Hoover, primarily because Scripture directs us to plant churches
2) Because non-Christians still exist in Hoover.
Simple. We have neighbors who do not know Jesus. And for whatever reason, the existing churches in our area, who have been faithfully serving our city for years, have not been able to reach those neighbors.
Also, we must remember that we do not live in a “neutral” society. These neighbors that surround us are daily either moving closer to Christ or further away from Him. Our community in general is either being redeemed by Christ or moving further from Him. In the past several years, the two most recent additions to Hoover’s religious community are a Muslim mosque and a Sikh temple. Whatever our perception of the reality around us, and even though we may very well live in the “Bible Belt”, Hoover is clearly a mission field.
Statistics show that new churches are far more effective at reaching a population with the gospel than existing churches. (Perhaps this is because of the desperation that many younger church plants feel, “Evangelize or fade away!”) For whatever reason, as long as we have neighbors who do not know Jesus, we feel that there is room for new churches faithfully preaching the Word of God and pursuing Christ.
We seek to plant a new church in Hoover, because there is still Kingdom work to be done.
3) Because Hoover is experiencing rapid population growth.
According to recent census data, Hoover’s population is just over 82,000. Over the past 10 years Hoovers population has grown over 30%. This growth rate registers at just over 4 times our states average! There are certainly existing churches in place who are doing good work, preaching the gospel and seeing fruit. We seek to encourage and partner with those churches, because we are all working towards a common goal. However, these existing churches simply cannot keep up with the growth we are experiencing.
Even within the more specific boundaries of Bluff Park, there are roughly 27,000 residents. This is actually a population larger than Homewood! Within the broader geographic boundaries of those 27,000 residents, let’s say there are 20 churches (there are actually closer to 15, but let’s be conservative) that means that each church would have 1,350 members! That’s great if you are looking for a suburban mega-church, but most of the existing churches within that geographic footprint simply could not accommodate that number of members. Their buildings couldn’t handle the crowds, and their pastors couldn’t shepherd the families represented. The fact remains that, in order to simply keep up with population growth, we must plant new churches to reach those new residents moving into our area.
We seek to plant a new church in Hoover, because the existing churches in our area cannot shoulder this task alone.
4) Because Hoover is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.
It is not simply that our population is growing, but it is also important to be aware of precisely how our population is growing. Over the past 10 years the African American population in Hoover has increased 185%, the Hispanic population has increased 137% and the Asian population has increased 128%. This is compared with an 11% population increase for whites.
Whether it be preaching style, worship music, denominational tradition, etc. the churches that are currently serving faithfully in our area of the city have not historically been built to reach the diversity that will exist in the coming years. We must plant new churches with a vision and a burden to reach the people whom God is sovereignly bringing into our community. We would say that, rather than building a single mega-church of 1,000 members, our community may be better reached by 10 churches of 100 members all working towards a common vision and goal of reaching that community for Christ. Diverse churches reaching a diverse population for the glory of a common Kingdom.
We seek to plant a new church in Hoover, to reach the diverse population that God is bringing.