Paul Drost is director
of church planting for the Assemblies of God. He recently spoke
with Staff Writer John Cockroft.
EVANGEL: What is essential
for a church plant?
You need the right church planter at the right time for the
right reasons. A church planter must possess the faith, entrepreneurial
spirit, and the ability to speak the vision to others. Planters
must have the support of the district and other members of the church
plant core group. Half of our church plants continue beyond five
years, but we want to raise that to more than 90 percent.
EVANGEL: Is church
planting a solo effort?
Drost: We teach
a team ministry philosophy. In addition to the planter, ministry
partners must have the same level of commitment to the church plant.
They should go through a period of gestation prior to the opening
of the new church. This is similar to a business, which operates
prior to its grand opening for a smooth transition from training
to full operation. This should take about three months. Our goal
is to have 50 adults to start.
EVANGEL: How are church
a district or parent church has a strategy for a particular area
with no A/G church. Candidates go through an assessment process
and pray about going to a certain area. Other situations are approved
or denied based on a specific request.
EVANGEL: How many
churches are being planted?
Drost: In the
Decade of Harvest, we opened more than 2,900 churches. In the first
quarter this year, we opened 75 and hope for 300 this year. I would
like to see 750 to 1,000 planted per year. In Australia, the A/G
went from 9,000 to 170,000 adherents in 22 years. We need to prioritize
church planting. We must become intentional, not accidental, about
EVANGEL: What challenges
must be overcome?
can happen when neighboring pastors see a new church as a threat.
The answer is a relationship with other area churches and especially
with the A/G. Church planters need the support of the Fellowship.
Districts with strong coaching and support systems, such as the
Rocky Mountain and the Ohio districts, are seeing a dramatic increase
in the number of new churches. Additionally, the number of church
planters making applications to plant there is increasing.
EVANGEL: Why focus
on specific people groups?
biblical the Book of Acts says some went to Gentiles, others
to the Jews. Its good stewardship to concentrate resources
on the people God has called the planter to reach.
EVANGEL: If church
planting stopped today, how would it affect the church overall?
Drost: The blessing
of God would leave (see Hosea 9:16). Lyle Schaller, a well-known
church growth consultant, says denominations have two purposes:
to plant churches and to send foreign missionaries. If one or both
is missing, it is the beginning of the end for that denomination.
EVANGEL: Are older
pastors planting churches?
pastors in their 40s and 50s are planting churches to obey the call
of God. When we understand Gods calling (2 Timothy 2:4) we
do it. The thrill of something new is also a factor. Most of our
church planters have been in ministry before.
EVANGEL: Is there
a formula for church planting?
Drost: There is
not a set formula; in its basic form its about fulfilling
the calling God has placed on your heart in the smartest way possible.
Its people willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill that
call. We must support them. We need to welcome church plants like
we welcome a new baby into the family.