Having been asked a series of questions about church planting, I thought the responses may generate other helpful comments. The questions are relevant to all, although this time raised by Adventist planters.
How successful have Adventist church plants been in Australia? If successful – Why? If not – why?
In most States church planting has not been a strategic focus for Adventists. New churches have started – when members moved from an existing church (perhaps because of tensions), or if a number of members found they had settled in a suburb or area far from an established church – and, most of these have developed into viable churches. In the early 1990s there was an initiative to plant churches in the State capitals with the specific goal of reaching unchurched secular people – but this was not fostered into the 2000s, as society became more post-Christian. Some were effective, a couple derailed.
Since 2006 WA has strategically focused upon church planting. It is not that planting was prioritised ahead of other ministries but it was put on the agenda – in the mainstream – along with education, youth ministry, aged care, personal ministries, etc. With other ministries, the State denominational office fostered church planting as a main arm of evangelism and mission! A planter was appointed to coordinate planting State wide. This strategic emphasis has resulted in new disciples – and viable new churches. During this period of time, the Samoan churches in Melbourne (VIC) have strategically multiplied churches. Hopefully other States implement planting strategies, and more local churches become multiplying planting hubs. Research demonstrates that only when churches are being planted that growth is seen in global north environments. I think we need to be planting the equivalent of 10% of the number of existing churches each years for effective growth. That will only happen when there is a strategic focus upon disciple making – and planting!