This story of a commitment to church planting among the newly freed Anglicans in Virginia makes me very, very happy. This is the antidote to the coming evangelical collapse: church planting and a lot of it.
Listen my confessional, Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, etc brothers and sister: this is what must happen. Church planting that plants churches that plant churches. It will revitalize your church. It will put your priorities right. It will make the process of discipleship and Christian education come into sharp focus. It will keep your leaders from becoming ecclesiastical vegetables. It’s a very good thing. Do it.
What really excites me here is how this is the influence of Keller’s work at Redeemer Church on the newly liberated Anglicans. Do you have any idea what it is like to talk church planting in many mainline and older denominations? I’ve observed it up close and I’ve heard it over and over. When the “we own it all” denominations are given a choice to plant a new church or prop up an older one, they seem to have almost no idea why it is the better thing to act like Christians and plant the new church.
The diversion of leaders, resources and energy to existing churches is only wise when those churches are committed to sending and sustaining. If they want to “soak” up those resources, it’s an installment on a doomed future.
New churches will attract new people. Young churches will have young people. Future oriented churches will have a future. Missional churches will create missional leaders. This isn’t advanced math.
There’s a theory behind church planting. It rejects the idea of trying to fill up existing churches before building new ones. Old churches are often “closed clubs” that don’t attract new residents or young people or “the lost,” says the Rev. Johnny Kurcina, an assistant pastor of The Falls Church. Besides, population increase far exceeds church growth in America. This is especially true in cities.
As an Episcopal Church rector, Mr. Yates began thinking about planting churches 20 years ago. But the bishop of Virginia “wouldn’t allow us to discuss it,” he says, fearing that new Episcopal churches would lure people from older ones. In 2001, he was allowed to plant a church, but only a county away in a distant exurb.
So God bless the Falls Church. May they plant 20 and every plant start 20 more. How great this is for Anglicanism. Ask the AMiA!