Where should we plant churches? With over four billion people on the planet who are not disciples of Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to answer this question carefully. No one has helped me think through this question more than J.D. Payne, author of Discovering Church Planting.
Payne suggests that we plant at the intersection of receptivity and need:
- Receptivity — Where are people ready to hear the gospel? While there is a role for planting in areas with low receptivity, it is best to prioritize areas where people are receptive to the gospel.
- Need — Where do people need to hear the gospel? Where are there a high number of people who have never heard the gospel, in contrast to areas where there are a high percentage of believers? (See Payne’s recent post on Utica as an example. I would argue that Toronto is just as needy.)
Payne argues that we should prioritize areas of high need and receptivity as a matter of stewardship. While some may be called to areas of high need and low receptivity, this is not the norm.
As I think about this, I would add one more consideration:
- Passion — Where am I particularly suited and impassioned to serve?
This is probably worth its own post, but I have found that when God calls someone to do something, he usually also gives them a great passion or burden for that work.
We should therefore aim to plant churches at the intersection of receptivity, need, and passion.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them!