by Jeff Straub
Last week, my colleague and friend, Kevin Bauder, challenged my notion that North American church planting is little more than a preference for variety. He argued that people ought to choose churches out of a sense of biblical obedience. They implicitly make a covenant with a church that they believe teaches and practices what the Bible prescribes. He also suggested that while some places have an abundance of biblical churches, other places are woefully under-churched. Moreover, whole ethnic communities within North America—the Hmongs, Somalis, etc.—are virtually unreached. Of course, he is right on all three points. He has made a good argument for North American church planting, even in Atlanta, if one can find an area that evidences a legitimate need. One needs to keep in mind, however, that only mature Christians will be able to enter the kind of covenant Dr. Bauder suggests. Many believers are not mature in the faith and de facto choose churches for a variety of other reasons. The sheer number of church choices is a testament to the desire for variety. To go back to my ice cream illustration, the very fact that a flavor is on the menu suggests that it sells. If it does not sell, it disappears quickly from the list!
Expanding on Dr. Bauder’s good ideas, I would like to suggest appropriate general categories within a North American context where church planting ought to be considered seriously.