Church planting is agreed by many to be the most effective way of reaching people with the Gospel. While established churches have a responsibility to do the work of evangelism (and classis is specifically tasked with making sure congregations play their part in the Great Commission), church planting, the establishment of new congregations, is a vital part of any strategy to reach out more broadly. Church plants essentially depend on evangelism for their survival. To some, church planting is simply a fad – raising up hip new churches that steal away the younger generation from existing churches. But talk to most church planters and you’ll hear their heart for the lost. The goal is not to “steal sheep,” but to reach those who are not going to church. They’re investing energy into reaching the nominally religious, skeptics, those who have fallen away and people of other faiths. This strategy is as old as the Apostle Paul himself.
Church planting is hard and requires support from classes, from “parent churches” and from networks such as KEZ. The Kingdom Enterprise Zone (KEZ) is a collaborative church-planting network based in New York City that is made up of a team of RCA and CRC pastors. The KEZ has found its niche by providing a place where planters and those interested in planting or church renewal can find support, training, coaching and encouragement. The KEZ also seeks to provide micro grants to help planters in the areas of outreach, coaching and training. The 10-person team meets monthly, but there is also a loose network of those connected with this group who are around the city and who attend quarterly gatherings for prayer and training. All are welcome in this network. The KEZ also desires to see existing congregations renewed and is willing to help in renewal or Fresh Start efforts. The RCA leader, Rev. Doyle DeGraw, just successfully helped his Fresh Start in Long Island become organized last month.
From church plants working under established churches to church restarts in Chinatown (Manhattan) and Stony Brook, we are seeing God move in fresh ways. The CRC planted a church in Manhattan called City Grace (East Village) which is now starting an “incubator” to raise up and equip more leaders to start ministries. A non-denominational church called Good News Church in Manhattan is joining the movement. Another church plant with the CRC will be starting soon in Harlem, Lord willing. Historically, the RCA has had a much stronger presence in the region than the CRC, but by God’s grace, both denominations will be strengthened in this region as we work together in unity to seek the Kingdom through church planting and church renewal. To learn more about the KEZ, visit www.keznyc.org. If you or your church has ever considered church planting and would like to know more, please reach out to your classis to share your vision and reach out to the KEZ to talk to people who are doing this important work and can offer resources, support, training and coaching.
This article was written by Benjamin Spalink, Lead Pastor of City Grace Church and Co-leader of Kingdom Enterprise Zone NYC