Summary: How To Plant and Help Large Urban Churches Grow A Case Study in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

How To Plant and Help Large Urban Churches Grow

A Case Study in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

Learning Objectives

1. The students will look for principles about the right and wrong ways to plant urban churches and see them grow?

2. The students will discover what can we learn from Paul about urban church planting?

3. The students will suggest what things their local church, district church headquarters, or denominational leaders can do to advance urban church planting efforts?

Introduction - All over the world, there is a battle, going on in cities, for people’s minds. In Abuja, Muslims are building a huge Mosque in the center of the capital to attract followers. Saudi Arabian money is also helping to build Mosques in London, Paris, Rome, and many other major capitals of the world. Annually, billions of naira are spent for the purpose of Islamic evangelism in the cities of major countries. 6,000 Islamic missionaries are sent to cities around the world to evangelize urban citizens. Yet despite, the efforts of Muslims and other religions to win people in the cities to their religions, Christianity is making major advances of its own in starting new churches in the cities of the world. Christians have recognized that many new people are flooding into the cities of the world daily. The future unreached fields are the world’s cities.

Unless something is done to lead these people to Christ, provide them with a church home, and disciple them, they will be lost to other religions, the world, indifference, materialism and the devil. We must ask the Lord for wisdom in understanding how to most effectively start churches in the urban areas of Nigeria and all of Africa if we are to meet the challenges ahead.

Let us see what we can learn about planting churches in cities by examining a case study of church planting in Jos of Plateau State, Nigeria.

I. A Historical Look At Urban Evangelism in Nigeria

A. Since the inland mission movement started in the late 1800s, most of the missionaries were sent to the village


B. Presently, nearly 20% of Nigeria’s population lives in cities as opposed to only 3% in 1900.

C. Many people are moving to cities to find better jobs, higher education, social advancements, and even future partners.

D. The church must adjust its strategies to include aggressive urban evangelism and church planting efforts.

E. Youth are calling for new English sections that are sometimes resisted by the elders in vernacular sections.

F. Many people have to walk great distances to get to the mother church when they would prefer to worship in nearby areas of the town.

G. Historically, the established city churches have resisted starting new churches for fear that they will lose members, monies, influence, control, power, authority, and the ability to direct the church in the ways it deems fit.

Example - In 1956 Bishara Church #1 resisted the offer of SIM to help them start Bishara Church #2 for fear of losing members, offerings, and influence. When SIM offered to pay for 50% of the costs of purchasing the land, erecting the building, and providing furniture for the church, the Bishara #1 elders still refused.

After two years, the leaders of Bishara #1 came back to the leaders of SIM asking for their help in starting Bishara #2. The SIM leaders were shocked. They turned to the leaders and said, ``Why are you interested in starting a new church now and not before?’’

The leaders of Bishara #1 said, ``We are convicted by God for our selfishness, indifference to Christ’s great commission, (Matt. 28:19,20) and people are accusing us of being spiritually infertile.

Naturally, everyone knew what they meant for if a mother cannot produce children, people begin to wonder if there is something wrong with the mother. Is there sin in her life, is there something wrong with her relationship to God, is there some resistance to the will of God, is there a root cause for the lack of fruit? All of these questions plagued the people of Bishara #1 so much that they felt compelled by the Lord to help start a new church.

Sad, but true, many churches have been started for negative reasons like the above rather than positive obedience to the will of God to begin new churches. Just as it is not natural for a family to be barren and without children so it is equally serious for a church to exist for many years and not plant daughter churches!!! Jesus told us that, ``We should go and bring forth fruit and our fruit should remain.’’ (John 15:16)

I. Historically, many churches in Jos were started around tribal affiliations. This follows a sociological principle of homogeneity (Birds of a feather like to flock together)

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