(March 18, 2001)
Paul Drost, director of church planting for the Assemblies of
God, has a passion for church planting that dates back to his childhood
when he watched his father successfully plant four churches. Drosts
own ministry includes leaving a successful pastorate to plant a church
in Bel Air, Md., that mothered another young church. In 1999, Drost
took the helm of the new Church Planting Department for the Assemblies
of God. He spoke recently with Ashli OConnell, assistant editor.
Evangel: Why is church planting a priority for the Assemblies
Seventy-four churches, from all denominations, close their doors every
week in the United States. In the last decade, 10 percent of the population
has left the church entirely thats 27.5 million people.
God has blessed the Assemblies of God. We have 2.5 million adherents
and vast assets. We must seek God for ways to use our resources most
effectively to reach people with the gospel. One way is church planting.
Church planting is the Book of Acts way of fulfilling the Great
Commission. Wherever the gospel was proclaimed, a church was formed.
The fruit of the gospel must be preserved, and that is done through
the local church.
Evangel: How do church plants differ from older, more-established
Drost: We need both types of churches. Its not an either/or
Church planting is the most effective form of evangelism as far as
reaching new people. Its dramatic the number of souls that come
to Jesus Christ for the dollar invested.
Weve found that church plants can be very effective in reaching
targeted segments of the population. We have church planters reaching
certain ethnic groups, certain age groups, etc. Weve found this
to be effective because it flows out of who we are instead of trying
to fit some preconceived idea of what church should be like. We need
to think saturation, not competition.
Often, as churches age, the emphasis turns more toward discipling
those within the church and developing programs for children and families.
Evangel: What does the national department do to help church planters?
Drost: Weve implemented a system thats having
a 90-95 percent success rate for new churches. The plan has four steps.
First, we assess church planters. Individuals wanting to plant a
church are interviewed, so they know whether they have the giftings
to be the lead church planter or whether they should be a part of
Second, we train. Attending a four-day boot camp is a requirement.
Third, we link church planters with coaches who will provide guidance
and support through the process.
Fourth, we encourage churches to parent new churches. Healthy things
reproduce. When you have a healthy church that parents or mothers
a church, the spiritual DNA is transferred from that church to the
The Assemblies of God must be a church-multiplication movement.
Evangel: What can laypeople do to support local church planters?
Drost: The number one thing is to pray. If we dont,
well be trying to accomplish spiritual things by carnal means.
They might ask God if He wants them to be part of a church plant.
Short-term trips are available where people with skills can assist.
We have a number of church-planting home missionaries and local church
plants that have vision, but lack finances.
Evangel: Anything else?
Drost: North America is the only continent where Christianity
is not growing. We want to change that. No county in the United States
has a greater percentage of its population in church than it did 10
years ago. Many counties have lost ground. America is now the third
largest receiving nation for foreign missionaries. Cults are booming.
Theres a great need for churches full of Gods presence,
His power and His people.
There is a great church-planting movement going around the world,
and as we say yes to Jesus we will see that happen here at home. The
Church Planting Department exists to facilitate our constituency to
plant healthy, effective, reproducing churches.