Does Denton need a new church? This is the natural question Kristen and I began to wrestle with last Spring. This question can feel like an indictment on existing churches in Denton, but nothing could be further from the truth. The city offers great churches. Some of my mentors led churches in town. Two of my best friends serve as pastors in Denton. If I wasn’t planting this new church I would feel very comfortable in a number of churches in Denton. However, I came to the conclusion that Denton does need a new church.
John Piper, through the “Treasuring Christ Together” statement, makes an effective case for new churches. The reality is that no church can reach everyone. The reality is that America has over 200 million unbelievers. The reality is that there are fewer churches per capita today than ever before. The reality is that even with the glorious rise of the megachurch (2,000 in attendance or more), there is no county in America that has more believers today than they did 10 years ago.
Denton is also growing, and growing rapidly. When I graduated High School in 1996 we were one unified graduating class for the entire city. Today Denton hosts three high schools. Since I was a kid, Denton has basically tripled?! In the past 10-12 years the 76210 zip code has grown from 10,000 to 40,000?!
The reality of new churches is that they are effective at reaching unbelievers. I believe this is true for a number of reasons, but at the end of the day new churches engage unbelievers easier than more established churches. If your heart is to reach the unreached, then you should have a heart for church planting.
I also love new churches because they re-engage believers to God’s mission. When we started Christ Community in Houston I felt like the deck got re-shuffled. I remember that we had a man who we loved and thought would be a great leader. Sadly, if this guy was at an established church he might have to wait years to begin serving in the church. Those fleeting years would have been wasted. We were able to engage this particular man in mission and saw him fulfill God’s calling for his life. New churches have a way of getting good men off the sidelines and into the game.
Last Spring I studied the demographics and learned that there were four mega churches within a 20 minute drive of the 76210 zip code. But I also learned that south Denton needed more hands focusing like a laser on those 40,000 people. Larger churches are effective at attracting people to events and programs, but we want to be a missional church building relationships with those in our neighborhoods. I view myself as a foot soldier going directly into the battle.
Finally, we have been blown away by the support of area pastors who see the need. Leaders like Gary Loudermilk at the Denton Baptist Association believe there is actually a need for two new churches in southern Denton. Even pastors in the area like Brian Blendon have thanked us for coming and joining in the fight to “push back the darkness.” I have also been encouraged and inspired by pastor Ross Appleton who pastors a 100 person church yet wants to send people from Christ Community to join the new church?!
Denton has grown and we simply want to join in the fight as broken people loving broken people.