Planting Churches with a Lasting Gospel Legacy

The Gospel Coalition | 1/23/2020 | Jim Essian
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In 1696, the first church plant in New York City, Marble Collegiate Church, was established. In 1932, after the Great Depression decimated church attendance, Norman Vincent Peale became the senior minister and served Marble for 52 years.

Originally planted in the Dutch Calvinist tradition, Marble now proclaims, “The Bible is not to be interpreted literally, but is a guide for faith that yields insights and new life each day.” While Marble has mastered church longevity, are they leaving a gospel legacy?

Church - Planters - Church - Launch - Plan

Church planters invest significantly in a church’s launch. We prepare, plan, pray, and pour out our creative energy and pastoral heart on this seedling of a church. But are we starting churches that last? Are we planning and pastoring today for what our churches will become tomorrow?

At a recent gathering of church-planting pastors in my city, the speaker told us something he heard Ray Ortlund say to a group of church planters: “Plant your church for 200 years.” I’ve been thinking of that concept for years.

Today - Churches - Tomorrow

Do we plan and pastor today, for what our churches will become tomorrow?

A church in my city has been around for 130 years. It was the first church planted in what is now America’s 13th-largest city, once having 1,500 members. Today, the church has less than 100. And while attendance doesn’t equal faithfulness, a coffee meeting with their pastor helped me understand why this historic church can barely keep its doors open. The pastor told me he doesn’t believe Jesus is God.

Pastor - Church - City - Years - Changes

Soon after, I met with the pastor of a flourishing church in my city. They’ve been around for 50 years. I asked about the changes he’s witnessed in our church climate. He replied, “Churches that remain faithful to the gospel are healthy and growing, and churches that don’t continue in steadfastness, aren’t.”

While that’s certainly not...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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