Church Plant Smarts
There are many types of areas in North America that are in need of church plants. One of those types of areas is the intellectual center. All over our continent there significant campuses where the students have little access to a healthy, gospel proclaiming local church. There are many reasons that we should want to plant churches in these communities but I will list three.
1. Churches need to be planted in intellectual centers because internationals and key future internationals leaders can more easily be reached there. The nations of the world have come to our continent and they are found in significant number on our campuses. And when these friends from around the world come to the campuses they tend to be much more open to considering the gospel. So, internationals can be loved and shared with in large numbers on the campus. But not only can internationals in general be reached on campus but many future world leaders are consistently studying in the intellectual centers of our continent. Nations can surely be impacted as their leaders encounter and are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. None of this should cause us to lessen our emphasis on taking the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world but in addition to that we must strategically invest in reaching the internationals on our campuses.
2. A second reason to plant churches in intellectual centers is that these campuses have a tremendously significant influence on the culture and future leaders of our own nations. The future government leaders, educators, culture-makers are found on various key campuses and they will certainly advocate for a worldview as they go forward in their lives. The question is what worldview will be driving them as they seek to exert their influence. What if they had been transformed by Jesus Christ and He was at the center of their worldview? What if humble, grace-driven Christian leaders were to arise from these campuses in future generations?
3. A third reason that churches need to be planted in intellectual centers is that the Great Commission compels us to go to all peoples and that must also include these campuses. The students and faculty on these campuses are just like all people everywhere who are sinners in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are not greater or lesser sinners than the rest of our culture but they are sinners in need of a Savior just like the rest of our world. So, we plant churches that the people across these campuses may come to know the grace of God and join in the joy-filled worship of our King.
Over the years evangelicals have tended to either avoid these intellectual centers or over-value them. Most often in recent decades evangelicals have pulled back from these campuses and have rarely invested in planting churches in these communities. On the other hand, sometimes groups have overvalued these communities as if reaching these campuses alone will transform the culture.
What is needed is a consistent, persevering effort to plant churches in these intellectual centers. I believe the most effective plants in these centers over the long haul will be multi-generational, mult-ethnic churches that are also filled with people from different educational backgrounds and economic situations. It will be in those sorts of churches that the peculiar, counter-cultural nature of the gospel community will shine forth most brightly.