The question is often asked: Why start a new church if there are already many churches in the area? Why not just revitalize existing churches? Those are very good questions. I thought it might be helpful to share 8 reasons why I’m planting a church in Miami.
8. Miami is one of the most unreached cities in America. In the area which we are considering starting a new church, 85% of its residents have zero religious affiliations – including the Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslims or any other religious group. Only 2.5% are evangelical Christians. The field is white for harvest!
7. New churches need to be planted in Miami to simply keep up with the population growth rate. According to the 2010 census, there are a little over 1,000 evangelical churches in Miami making up about 13% of the total population (this is a very generous estimate!). Miami’s population is growing much faster than the national average. From 2010-2015, Miami-Dade county grew by 7.8% (about 250,000 people/year). The bottom line: the evangelical church needs to plant about 26 churches a year just to maintain 13% of the population. In reality, for the evangelical church to grow in Miami, many more churches need to be planted – 40-50 churches a year is probably a more accurate figure.
6. It takes many different kinds of churches to reach an entire city. No single church tradition has a monopoly on the harvest. No one denomination or network can plant 50 churches a year! A positive way to put it is that each church reaches certain types of people. And since Miami is the most international city in America, there are many types of people to be reached! I like how David Olson puts it: “New churches are historically the best method for reaching each emerging generation… [and] the only truly effective means to reach the growing ethnic populations coming to America. Every people group needs to hear the gospel in a way that makes sense to their culture” (The American Church in Crisis, 156). To the degree that evangelical churches link arms and work together, is the degree to which we will we reach Miami. All evangelical traditions need each other if we are going to change the spiritual tide in Miami.
5. “New churches best reach the unchurched – period” (Tim Keller). It is essential to revitalize existing churches for kingdom impact in Miami, yet that alone will not turn the tide. New churches less than 3 years old average 10 new disciples per one hundred members compared to older churches: 10-year-old churches average 3 new disciples per hundred members and churches 50 years or older average 1.5 new disciples. As the late Peter Wagner famously said: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”
4. New churches often bring renewal to older churches. When older and newer churches work together, the new churches bring new disciples with new ideas and models for new situations that result in new leaders for both the older and newer churches. The older churches provide the emotional, financial, and spiritual support that is critical for the long-term health of a newly established church.
3. God has called me and my family to plant a church in Miami. God has given me a strong desire to seek the lost sheep, preach the gospel, make disciples, and organize a church not just anywhere, but in Miami. It really bothers me that there are so many lost sheep without a shepherd. We especially have a unique burden for those who find themselves in cultural transition. We know what it’s like to live as a minority. We understand the unique struggles, like the fatigue of always thinking in a second language or the stress of frequently feeling misunderstood. In many ways, our daughters are more comfortable as the only white girls in a sea of Latinos. In short, our family feels uniquely fitted to live in the international city of Miami.
2. My wife, Sandi, also feels called to follow me to Miami. This is HUGE! I’m continually amazed by God’s grace in Sandi. I’m amazed that she is still following me joyfully after all these years of transition! We know that our family has a call to Miami when former Southern Floridians warn us about the culture, and yet we still feel a strong pull to move there. Yes, we know that Miami is a superficial, flashy, and decadent city. Yes, we know that Miami has been hard soil for many church plants. Yes, we know that ministry in Miami is a marathon that will take longer than most areas in the States. Yet, we are strangely drawn to all its beauty and brokenness. We see more potential than danger. All though we have our fears about living in Miami, I can honestly say that Sandi is just as excited about moving to Miami as I am.
1. Starting new churches not only follows the Biblical pattern but is essential to fulfilling the Great Commission. It might surprise you to know that the there is zero commands in the New Testament to plant a church. However, as many have pointed out, the outcome of making disciples and baptizing them (Matthew 28:19-20) is to bring them into a new covenant community – a new expression of the Church in that specific context. That’s what we see Paul doing all through Acts: everywhere the gospel is preached, disciples are made and a local church is established. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) and church planting is the normal way He builds his church. I would go further to say that the church is God’s plan for the world. I like the way Ott & Wilson puts it:”Because the church itself is central to God’s mission, church planting must be central to that mission.”
Many of you have joined us to Miami – thank you!! If you haven’t joined us yet, there are 3 ways you can do so:
- Join our Launch Team by moving with us to Miami. I’m dead serious. If you don’t know Spanish yet, I know of some great language schools that can get you conversant in just one month. If you are already in Miami, hit me up. I’ll be in the Magic City every month now until the summer. Even if this is a remote dream, let’s talk!
- Join our Financial Team. One-time or recurring donations are greatly needed. We are presently at 40% of our budget, and our goal is to be at 80% before we move. You can donate here.
- Join our Prayer Team by subscribing to our newsletter. Prayer is the number one factor for success in church planting! Any spiritual, lasting fruit is a direct result of your prayers. And we need them!!