The Value of Planting Churches Worldwide

by Manny Fernandez on

Articles 5 min read
Matthew 16:18 Acts 5:39

The world is in desperate need of change. How can we achieve it? Some people believe the answer lies in politics, thinking that the right leader in the White House could solve our problems. However, history has shown that this rarely produces lasting change. Others advocate for widespread altruism, yet this approach has often failed in the past. Some suggest retreating from society to build utopian communities, but these isolated efforts rarely impact the wider world. The only movement that has stood the test of time and spread globally is the one started by Jesus.

While other religious movements have spread, none promote love, unity, holiness, good works, and hope in the same way Christianity does. When a church truly lives according to the Bible, it often benefits the entire community. [This kind of living is not simply effective; it is the work of God.] The words of Gamaliel in the book of Acts illustrate this point. He advised the Pharisees, “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39).

The movement Jesus started continues to grow 2,000 years later. I believe that only God can bring lasting change to the world. He has been at work for millennia, quietly transforming billions of lives.

Jesus made disciples, and after His departure, these disciples formed the Church. The Church became God's instrument for carrying out His mission worldwide. In the book of Acts, Paul traveled to various cities, sharing the Gospel, making disciples, and establishing churches that would continue the mission after he left. This was the first church-planting process.

Statistically, church-planting is the fastest way to spread the Gospel. Tim Keller noted,

“Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60–80 percent) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshiping body, while churches over ten to fifteen years of age gain 80–90 percent of new members by transfer from other congregations. This means the average new congregation will bring six to eight times more new people into the life of the body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.”

Many regions around the globe are still waiting to hear the Good News. Traditional evangelism methods, often led by foreign missionaries, have laid a strong foundation. However, the most profound and lasting impact comes from within, when local believers share their faith with their own people. These individuals, familiar with their culture and language, can communicate the Gospel authentically and compellingly.

People tend to prefer being around those who are like them. This is evident in church demographics, where people often attend churches with others who speak the same language and share similar backgrounds. While this isn't universally true, it is generally the case.

Therefore, a strategy where local leaders reach their own people with the Gospel could be the most effective. These leaders don’t need to learn the culture or language; they’ve grown up in it and understand the people they are trying to reach. Additionally, mobilizing a local church planter is far less costly than sending an expatriate missionary overseas. For example, when my wife and I served as missionaries in Spain, we needed to raise $6,500 per month to live and work there. In contrast, the funds we send to Cuba to support 704 church planters, who each plant an average of three churches, amount to less than $5,000 per month.

Am I opposed to expatriate missionaries? Absolutely not. I was one and still consider myself to be one. However, instead of centering the ministry around myself, I advocate for empowering locals to lead the ministry, supporting them as they carry out the work.

Where does that leave us if we desire to have a global impact for the Gospel? I think there is plenty we can do. Let me suggest a few possibilities:

  1. Give to organizations that are mobilizing church planters. There are several great organizations that are training and sending out church planters to reach their people for Christ. Some churches are also investing in church-planting efforts. Don’t reinvent the wheel—instead jump in with those who are already doing this.

  2. Go to see the work. I can think of no better way to catch the vision of what God is doing worldwide than to go see and perhaps participate in the work.

  3. Pray for the work that is continuing on. Prayer is the most important thing we can do. The Lord is the only one who can bring lasting change to this world. Interceding for our brothers and sisters around the world is no small thing.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of the words of Christ which always fill me with hope: “...I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail” (Matt. 16:18).

The Lord is the one who is at work. We get to join Him, and empower others to join Him as well.

About the Author

Manny Fernandez (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, and current D.Min. student) has served in global missions and as Student Pastor at Central Bible Church. He is now the President of World Link Ministries.