This article is part of the series "In for the Long Haul," explaining Orchard Group's commitment to back church planters as they establish churches in cities.
Orchard Group was born in New York City in 1948, and we have focused on establishing new churches in urban areas since our inception.
This mission raises the question: Why plant churches?
Why plant churches?
Time and again, the data show that new churches are effective at reaching the next generation by expressing the good news of Jesus in fresh cultural ways. New churches help reach new residents who are searching for community because existing churches often have unintentional social barriers that make it more difficult for new people to find a welcoming home.
New churches reach people who may not resonate with the expressions of the gospel that already exist in their neighborhood or city. New churches also tend to be outwardly focused by their very nature. They cannot grow and won’t exist if they don’t find ways to reach out to the people around them. For these reasons, from the first century to now, starting new churches remains one of the most-effective means we have for sharing the gospel.
Planting churches is also important simply because existing churches are closing. In the United States alone, nearly 4,000 churches close their doors each year.
The way the gospel spread throughout the ancient world (as recorded in the New Testament) is that leaders would move to a city, gather believers, share the gospel with nonbelievers, disciple new believers, develop leaders, and appoint them to oversee the new church that had been formed. We believe this model is still the most-effective way of seeing the gospel spread in our day. (See Acts 14:21-28 for a multi-city church planting summary.)
Why Orchard Group
Based on our long history of ministry in New York City and other similar cities, we feel called by God to steward our learning and resources to plant churches in places marked by density (population per square mile), diversity (specifically ethnic diversity), disparity (socioeconomically), and difficulty (areas with a relatively high unchurched population per capita).
And by God's good grace, Orchard Group has an exceptional track record of planting churches in cities. Over 95% of churches started by Orchard Group become independently viable. Furthermore, churches planted by Orchard Group that are under five years old are reaching over 300 people on average; churches five to ten years old are reaching over 600, and churches ten to twenty years old are reaching nearly 1,200.