Compiled by B&R Staff
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The North American Mission Board reported 732 new congregations in 2016. In addition, 232 churches began cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2016, bringing the total number of new congregations to 964.
In the Tennessee Baptist Convention, there were 46 new churches started last year. Twenty established churches affiliated with the convention last year while three formerly inactive churches re-engaged with the convention, totaling 69 new Tennessee congregations last year.
“We have seen an uptick in new churches since Tennessee Baptists adopted five objectives three years ago,” said Lewis McMullen, who leads the church planting team for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
The objectives were part of a long-range plan adopted by convention messengers which includes planting and strategically engaging 1,000 new churches by 2024.
McMullen observed that “we are seeing a lot of replants.” A replant is a church that is dying or has already closed its doors, reopen as a new congregation, reopening in most cases with a sponsoring church.
He also noted that Tennessee has seen a number of 1-5-1 church plants started by ethnic and African-American churches. A 1-5-1 plant is an off-campus effort (outside the four walls of the church) geared toward people who don’t know Christ as their Savior for the purpose of sharing the gospel, discipling people, and starting churches.
“One of the greatest methods of doing evangelism is church planting,” McMullen stressed. “Church plants are more likely to reach unchurched people than established churches,” he said.
The TBMB is placing a major emphasis on providing training, consulting, and coaching for sending/supporting churches, he said. “Our goal by 2024 is to see at least 10 percent of the churches in our convention involved in church planting. Currently only 2 percent are involved,” McMullen noted.
“We celebrate every new church that has been added and all of the souls they are already reaching for Christ,” said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. “In addition, we are grateful for every sending church and for every pastor who is putting resources into a new church. I am a firm believer that churches plant churches and churches send missionaries.”
Ezell also reaffirmed his belief that church planting is the most effective, long-term approach to evangelizing North America.
— This article includes reporting by NAMB staff members and Lonnie Wilkey of the Baptist and Reflector.