There's an old movie theater about a block from our church, which shares the corner with two other churches. A couple of months ago, my wife and I noticed a ton of people milling around the theater on Sunday mornings and new signs popping up. We discovered there was a new church that sprung up there. I don't know much about it except that it's aimed at young people and families with a contemporary vibe.
Often, I hear of churches in the US advertising how many churches they have planted in their area or around the country. Being a church planter is seen as one of the holiest roles a Christian can play.
But I've been wondering if we really need more churches, at least in most of the US.
Going back to the new congregation, that now makes at least four congregations within one block of each other (the other three are all about 125 years old, by the way). What purpose does that serve? Does it really help spread the Gospel and bring more people to Christ? I'm skeptical of that, as there's evidence that oftentimes new congregations' members are really just unsatisfied attendees of other churches. So the amazing growth of plants isn't necessarily people being added to the body of Christ; it's simply a rearranging of congregational membership.
Now there is definitely something to be said for having congregations that will meet the various diverse needs of the community. But in most urban to suburban areas, there will be a congregation that has just the type of worship style or ministry you're looking for. Do we really need another one duplicating existing efforts?
Sometimes a need isn't being met. Is the best option to just start another new church? What about efforts to work within your existing congregation and start a new ministry or outreach effort? Some church organizations do not respond well to change, so leaving may be the best option, but perhaps there's another existing congregation who is willing to partner rather than you having to start out on your own.
I don't know anything about this new church or what the reason they've started is, so this really isn't a critique on them specifically. If they can touch people's lives, then that's wonderful. But it got me thinking again and reflecting on the increased fracturing of the Church and wondering what benefit it actually provides today.