By Dave Ferguson
Uni showed up at church after a night of partying. She was hungover but hopeful. She had received a postcard in the mail—well, six of them—and she was determined to find her way to the new church starting near her home on this particular Sunday.
A widow at age 26, Uni had three children to support. Overwhelmed with grief and the heavy burden of caring for these children, Uni turned to drugs to escape. Eventually Uni sent her kids away to an out-of-state school hoping they would get the care she knew she was not providing.
Overwhelmed, hopeless, and missing her children, Uni decided to end her life. She knew how she would do it. Then she received a letter in the mail from an old friend saying, “Don’t forget who you are, a child of the living God.” Uni gathered her resolve and decided to get her life back in order. On that Sunday morning she found her way to the Montgomery, Illinois, campus of Community Christian Church.
Uni began to piece her life back together with the help and support of a community that cared about her. Now five years later, Uni and her three kids have given their lives to Jesus and been baptized. Uni has become a ministry leader who reaches out to other single parents and at-risk kids who are finding their way back to God.
Sometimes people ask me, “Why plant new churches? Are there not enough people going to the churches we already have in this country?” Church multiplication and church planting makes my heart beat fast because of people like Uni. Her story is repeated hundreds and thousands of times in new churches across this country and around the world.
Why New Churches?
Here is what we know about new churches. New churches are best at reaching new generations, new residents, and new people groups. And new churches are best at reaching the unchurched. Dozens of studies show the average new church gains most of its new members (60 to 80 percent) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshiping body, while churches 10 years and older gain 80 to 90 percent of new members by transfer from other congregations.1
We are losing ground. A lower percentage of American people are attending church regularly today than ever in my lifetime. In order to win we need to plant churches.
To resource, promote, and motivate leaders to meet the needs of new churches, the 2007 North American Christian Convention will focus on church planting.
As ideas for the conference emerged, it became apparent we not only wanted to talk about church planting, we wanted to do it. We began to ask, “What if the NACC impacted Kansas City, not just for the one week it filled the convention center, but for years and decades to come? What if the convention left behind a church plant that grew into a movement of reproducing churches? What if over time this changed thousands of lives in Kansas City and the surrounding area?”
Why Kansas City?
Why plant a church in Kansas City? Since 1990 the population in and around Kansas City has grown by more than 300,000 people.2 There was a net gain of 37 churches from 1990 to 2000. However, to keep up with the growing population, an additional 192 churches should have started.3 There is enormous potential for kingdom impact with the launch of many new churches in Kansas City. And these statistics are not unique to that city alone. Any city in America is ripe for planting new churches.
Over the past 17 years, God has blessed Community Christian Church in many ways. We have grown from five friends to 5,000 weekend attenders, from one location to eight locations within Chicagoland, and we have helped start seven new churches across the country through the NewThing Network (www.newthing.org).
I shared with Troy McMahon, who is part of Community’s lead team, about our desire to launch a new church in Kansas City as part of the 2007 NACC. He replied, “How about me?”
I liked the idea much better without such high personal costs! But after a month of prayer it became clear this was from God and Troy McMahon was to lead this new church. While I will greatly miss Troy and Janet McMahon as a part of Community Christian Church, I know they are the right couple to launch a new church in Kansas City following the 2007 NACC.
Troy has been on staff at Community since 1996. He has been the pastor of administration, the founding campus pastor at our Romeoville location, and for the past three years has provided leadership at our largest campus (Naperville). Troy has also provided oversight for the design and construction of numerous facilities within CCC. He is a gifted leader with a passion for people and helping them understand how Jesus wants to transform their lives and use them to change the world. His wife, Janet, is also a gifted leader and teacher and has provided staff leadership in small groups, support and recovery, and children’s ministry. They have three children, Jacob (16), Mitchell (13), and Judiann (7).
What Can I Do?
Would you join us in this adventure? You can start with prayer. Pray for Troy and Janet and their family. Pray for the staff team they are assembling. Pray for those who will move to Kansas City and those in Kansas City who will join their launch team. And please pray for those in Kansas City who are far from God, and that this new church will create a safe and challenging place for them to “find their way back to him.”
Next, you can support this new church financially. In addition to Community Christian Church, a number of other churches have committed finances to supporting this new church plant: Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot, Colorado, Legacy Christian Church in Overland Park, Kansas, and New Life Christian Church in Centreville, Virginia, among them.
If you are interested you can contact me at (630) 388-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last, and of course, not least, if you live in the Kansas City area or know someone who does, you can become part of the launch team. The target area for this new church is the Northland area of Kansas City, in the Platte and Clay county areas of Missouri. If you want more information, contact Troy at (630) 388-5111 or email@example.com.
The 2007 NACC promises to be an unforgettable event; and one of the big reasons is because we are planting a new church in Kansas City!
1 Lyle Schaller, quoted in D. McGavran and G. Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies that Work (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980).
3 Dave T. Olson, www.theamericanchurch.com.
Dave Ferguson is lead pastor with Community Christian Church, Naperville, Illinois, and vice president of the 2007 North American Christian Convention.