There are more than 100 Christian churches in Gainesville. Is there a need for at least one more?
Church planter Randy Kemmerer thinks so.
“New church plants, within their first two years, account for 80% of new converts,” Kemmerer says.
“We need a much more robust effort in regard to fulfilling the Great Commission,” he adds, referring to the scripture in Matthew 28 where Jesus tells His disciples to make disciples of all nations.
Beginning September 6th, a new church will be launched here in Gainesville. For now, it will meet in the Fellowship Hall of Parkview Baptist Church at 1:30 p.m. each Sunday.
Kemmerer says there are two steps: a gathering, and then a sending out.
“We’re going through a fifteen-week process of in-gathering,” he says of the launch.
Although the first meetings will be at Parkview Baptist, the church plant is an effort of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Kemmerer praises their hosts at Parkview, whom he calls “kingdom minded.”
“They’ve opened their doors wide to us,” he says.
He also says there is a benefit for churches that help new congregations get started.
“A church that helps plant a church becomes more active,” he says.
The goal is to reach people who do not have faith. Kemmerer sees a particular need in Gainesville as a university town.
“Faith is not incompatible with science and logic,” he says.
The Alpha Film Series will be used as part of the launch. “It has a proven track record of bringing people to Christ,” according to Kemmerer.
He says people are seeking as they watch the first films. “By the end of the series, they are professing Christ as savior.”
The faith people develop during the in-gathering process is designed to prepare them for the second step, the sending out. He says the new church expects to be spawning what he calls “microchurches,” reaching “all the little nooks and crannies of society.”
“Those will be the future churches.”
Kemmerer and those working on the church plant see this as scriptural, an extension of how Christianity grew in its earliest days. For example, he references Acts 14, where Paul and Barnabas start new churches and appoint elders for them.
Kemmerer says that there is a need for new churches, as more churches have been closing than have opened their doors, and as church attendance has dropped. “Four out of five churches have declining membership or have plateaued,” he says.
“In the United States, there are 60% fewer churches per 10,000 people than there were a hundred years ago, in 1920.”
“Where we were once a missionary-sending country, we are now considered a mission field by many countries around the world.”
Kemmerer says beyond Parkview Baptist Church there are already other ministry partners willing to help reach neighborhoods and underserved populations throughout the city and the surrounding area.
“Let’s get rid of these walls of division,” he says.
As indicated by the microchurches, the plan is to continue to reach out to new people in new places.
“We’re making disciples that make disciples,” he concludes.
More information on the new church plant is available at www.gainesvillechurch.org.