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Exponential Series Books
Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement
Jesus gives us a mission to change the world, and it can seem overwhelming at times. But the potential to complete the Jesus mission lies within each of us, as we learn to reproduce our faith as individuals and as reproducing churches.
Jesus challenges us to heal the hurting, feed the hungry, include the lonely, and help people find their way back to God.
The mission Jesus gave us was not just meant to inspire us, nor was it intended to frustrate us. Jesus gave us this mission because he wants us to actually do it!
Within each person lies a potential movement that could change the world. The beginning of such a movement is simple: you living a life as a Christ follower that is worth reproducing. You will reproduce what you say. You will reproduce what you do. You will reproduce what you don’t do. You will reproduce who you are.
Each of us has the ability to catalyze a movement that can accomplish the mission of Jesus. Some of us have the ability to impact 10 people; some of us have influence over hundreds, while others have the potential to reach thousands.
This book will lay out a brief, but solid theology for a reproducing strategy and then give very practical “how-to’s” for reproducing Christ followers, leaders, artists, groups/teams, venues, sites, churches and networks of churches.
Weaved throughout this book will be the amazing story of Community Christian Church, started by five friends who used these reproducing strategies to grow one of the most influential churches in the U.S and develop a network of reproducing churches.
You can check out all the books in the Exponential Series here.
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July 19, 2012
This is my column from the most recent issue of Outreach Magazine. The magazine has several excellent articles, including a section on lessons on church planting, with something of a "round table" where nine of us give our thoughts on key issues for the future. Here is my column:
Over the past 60 years, Billy Graham and his evangelistic crusades have been one of the best known and effective tools of evangelism. His staff has stated that over 3 million people had accepted Christ through the crusades. At the end of his public ministry, an estimated 80 million people had heard Dr. Graham preach in person. The impact of his ministry has left a rich legacy for years to come.
Regardless of the view that people might have, just about everyone agrees that in more recent years, evangelistic crusades have waned in their influence. They are still making a difference in some places, but not as often or as much. Some of this is a societal shift, some of this is a church methods shift, but most would agree that it is real-- and that something else has taken its place. What? A couple of years ago, Christianity Today reported that church planting is now the new "crusade evangelism." I thought that was interesting and agree that the influence of new churches is quite significant.
When writing the book, Viral Churches, Warren Bird and I researched how many new churches were actually being planted in the United States. Based on our sample, it seems about four thousand new churches are being planted a year, and 3,500 are closing. What's more, the pastors of some of these new churches are a few of the top evangelical leaders in the country. Craig Groeschel, Tim Keller, Rick Warren...they all planted a church and are still leading the church they planted. (And, there are thousands of others who have not written books and become well known!)
Despite church planting's influential and numerical growth, not all denominations and churches are joining in. For some, the transition to church planting involves more of a historical and cultural shift than others.
I have written in the past about how Evangelicals often behave badly with our own statistics. We have a track record of sensationalism and trying to create a sense of desperation in the church, and that is not always helpful. But here's the truth: The church is not going to die because new churches are going to be born. Some of what is happening today is simply following the typical life cycle of churches: birth, growth, plateau, decline, and death. Then, new churches replace them. It's the circle of churchlife!
Much of that planting is taking place in non-denominational evangelicalism--and that's the fastest growing segment of Christianity in American today. However, even more of that church planting is taking place in denominations (where the vast majority of church plants are sponsored). The Assemblies of God has seen a dramatic increase in church planting over the last few years. Southern Baptists were up last year. Converge Worldwide (the Baptist General Conference) is a leader in per-capita planting. The Missionary Church is one of the leading small church denominations. The list of evangelical denominations could go on and on.
Yet, even mainline denominations are discovering church planting. For example, United Methodists decline is not a secret, yet they were once one of the two fastest-growing groups. At one point, the two largest denominational groups in America were the Baptists and Methodists. This was achieved because of a church planting focus and some friendly competition back in the early 19th century, to see who could plant the most churches. The Methodists utilized a system of both clergy and "class leaders," non-credentialed pastors who could handle all the workings of a church except the sacraments. The results were phenomenal, and they created a strong denominational family.
In the years since, a lot of that passion has diminished. Now, there are more Muslims in America than there are Methodists. They have recently created an aggressive plan to combat this problem. By the end of 2012, they have a goal to plant 650 new churches. Rev. Gary Shockley, a church planting strategist for the United Methodist Church, excitedly shared his new proposal in an online article published by the UM Portal in February 2010:"It [church planting] is a change in focus for the denomination . . . This is the first time the denomination has put a national emphasis on church planting in over 100 years. We used to have the habit as United Methodists . . . in the 1800s of planting a church a day. Ultimately we hope to get back to that-- and even more."
The growth of church planting is good. However, we should not assume that this has (yet) led to the growth of the percent of Christians in North America. There are certainly plenty more people who are unreached and need to hear about Jesus in the context of the local church. Let's celebrate the growth of church planting, but press on with great optimism that the best is yet to come.
To read more of Ed's blog posts on church planting, go to www.EdStetzer.com
May 7, 2012
Several church planters, leaders, pastors, enterprenuers and coaches around the country were recently asked the question “What do you wish you knew when you first started out in ministry?” Their answers to this question were geared toward first time church planters to created this eBook. Download your copy of this encouraging book for free by clicking here.
February 3, 2012
Exponential Conference is taking place in Orlando, April 23-26, 2012. Here's the scoop on some current Exponential items:
2. Jesus warned us there'd be trouble. Visit Stories of Sifted to see how heros of the faith were Sifted through their lives.
Register today for this year's conference!
November 17, 2011
'Tis the season to give thanks and give back! Our good friends at Church Plant Media have partnered up with Rice Bowls to challenge churches and ministries to help feed orphans across the globe. To learn more go to: www.redbowlchallenge.org – The church or ministry that gives the most will win a FREE website!
July 15, 2011
How can YOUR CHURCH go from reaching church shoppers to reaching people who don't like church? That's what Vault is all about, and you don't want to miss the conversation October 10-12, 2011!
Vault will bring you deep inside the thinking and methods Vince Antonucci and Verve Church use in Las Vegas, which have led them to reach atheists, pimps, prostitutes, bikers, Wiccan witches, Buddhists, strippers, lesbians, and many more of the truly lost, the people Jesus called all of us all to reach.