D. As an exercise in KINGDOM-MINDEDNESS
All in all, church planting helps an existing church the best when the new congregation is voluntarily 'birthed' by an older 'mother' congregation. Often the excitement and new leaders and new ministries and additional members and income 'washes back' into the mother church in various ways and strengthens and renews it. Though there is some pain in seeing good friends and some leaders go away to form a new church, the mother church usually experiences a surge of high self-esteem and an influx of new enthusiastic leaders and members.
However, a new church in the community usually confronts churches with a major issue--the issue of 'kingdom-mindedness'. New churches, as we have seen, draw most of their new members (up to 80%) from the ranks of the unchurched, but they will always attract some people out of existing churches. That is inevitable. At this point, the existing churches, in a sense, have a question posed to them: "Are we going to rejoice in the 80%--the new people that the kingdom has gained through this new church, or are we going to bemoan and resent the three families we lost to it?"
In other words, our attitude to new church development is a test of whether our mindset is geared to our own institutional turf, or to the overall health and prosperity of the kingdom of God in the city.
Any church that is more upset by their own small losses rather than the kingdoms large gains is betraying its narrow interests. Yet, as we have seen, the benefits of new church planting to older congregations is very great, even if that may not be obvious initially.
If we briefly glance at the objections to church planting in the introduction, we can now see the false premises beneath the statements.
A. Assumes that older congregations can reach newcomers as well as new congregations. But to reach new generations and people groups will require both renewed older churches and lots of new churches.
B. Assumes that new congregations will only reach current active churchgoers. But new churches do far better at reaching the unchurched, and thus they are the only way to increase the 'churchgoing pie'.
C. Assumes that new church planting will only discourage older churches. There is a prospect of this, but new churches for a variety of ways, are one of the best ways to renew and revitalize older churches.
D. Assumes that new churches only work where the population is growing. Actually, they reach people wherever the population is changing. If new people are coming in to replace former residents, or new groups of people are coming in--even though the net pop figure is stagnant--new churches are needed.