There is little debate among church leaders and missiologists, that the most effective way to reach people with the Gospel is through church planting. There has been a tremendous emphasis placed on church planting in the United States over the last twenty years in response to this understanding.
Additionally, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars given by churches, individuals, and mission sending agencies to help establish churches. Out of incredible generosity, as well as a fervent belief that the only hope for every man, woman, boy, and girl is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, more and more money has been given to church plants and church planters than ever.
The money that has been given to church planting is both welcomed and desperately needed. As a growing concentration of church planting has been placed upon many of the larger cities in our nation, the realities of high living costs and high property costs have served as very real and significant obstacles in the efforts to establish churches.
In the New York City metropolitan area, there are nearly 23 million people who live within a 75 mile radius of Times Square. Most of the data that we have on the New York City area reveals that roughly 5% or 6% of the population would claim to be an Evangelical Christian, with some suburban areas as low as 3%.
This is precisely the area where hundreds of additional churches are needed, yet this is also an area that happens to be one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States.
The truth is that there are millions of more dollars needed to in order plant these churches. There is no denying this fact. Yet, there are additional resources that can be provided for church planters that can increase production, lower costs, and save church planters time, allowing for them to spend more time with the people they are trying to reach.
Because of the high cost of living in the New York City Metro Area, many of the churches that are being planted are single staff church or are being led by bi- vocational pastors. This makes perfect sense. The churches that are being planted across the New York City Metro Area are comprised of new believers who have not made a habit of tithing their money and church plants that are starting with almost no people within the congregation to help support and sustain a church budget.
This brings the majority of the responsibilities to fall upon the church planter. This is especially true as the responsibilities pertain to the administrative aspects of a church or church plant. While some church plants may have some volunteers in place to help with various responsibilities, by in large, the church planter is left as the default administrator responsible for overseeing everything from the church website to the financial contributions given to the church.
There is nothing new about a small church having only one paid staff member or bi-vocational pastor. The expectation has long been that a single staff member or church planter would have to be a “jack of all trades” type of pastor. Some churches rely on this flexibility and some pastors enjoy this variety. There is nothing inherently wrong with this model.
However, this model is not effective for church planters in New York City. In an area that has such a large population, we need for our pastors and church planters to focus as many available hours as possible to spend time reaching people.
While the pastors and church planters will always have some level of involvement in the administrative areas of church planting, it is imperative that other alternatives are provided to help with the administrative needs. At the same time, there has to be a recognition that the vast majority of church plants across the New York City Metropolitan Area are not able to afford additional staff or personnel, even on a part-time basis.
In recognition of the current climate that exists in planting churches across the New York City Metropolitan Area, the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association is establishing the New York City Church Planting Center.
The New York City Church Planting Center will be providing church planters with various tools and resources in an effort to help each planter maximize the amount of time that they spend weekly with people in their churches and communities.
This can be accomplished by providing church planters with the following resources: