Church plants are a growing trend in churches worldwide, but a successful church plant requires many ingredients. An oft-quoted statistic is that 80% of church plants fail – while that percentage is debated, it is certainly true that many church plants do fail. These church plants didn’t know the secret to successful church planting.
Let’s assume you have the qualities of a successful church planter – you have a clear vision, pastoral experience and training, a commitment to prayer and evangelism, a strategy to engage your community, and strong leadership skills.
To ensure a successful church plant, you still need to know your goal in planting the church.
For most church planters, those goals include seeing new people come to faith in Jesus Christ (and not just people leaving a different church to attend the church plant), seeing believers without a church home find one in the newly planted church, and making an impact in their local community.
If you are church planting to meet those goals, there is a surprisingly simple way to ensure your church plant is a success – host a Gospel Justice Center.
Hosting a Gospel Justice Center will provide your church plant with the necessary ingredients for success in meeting your goals: meeting a real community need, building connections in the community, changing culture’s perception of the church, and opportunities to share the good news about Jesus.
What is a Gospel Justice Center?
A Gospel Justice Center is a once-a-month legal clinic that a church hosts to serve your community. A growing number of church planters are finding it an easy way to find success in their church planting.
One church planter said, “A Gospel Justice Center really is a great way for a small church plant to pull off a full scale ‘big-church’ ministry without the usual time and money it would take to do so. And it is a great testimony to your community that Jesus and His people care about their needs.”
Here’s how hosting a Gospel Justice Center is a simple way to be successful in your church planting.
Successful Church Planting Meets a Critical Need in your Community.
For your church plant to be successful, it must meet a real need in the community. The need for legal aid is present in nearly every neighborhood. The Legal Services Corporation reports that low-income Americans don’t receive the legal help they need for 92% of their civil legal issues. An estimated 37 million Americans are turned away from legal aids every year because there are not enough places providing legal help.
Your church plant can host a Gospel Justice Center that meets once a month for 3 hours to provide legal ministry to your neighbors in need. It will draw people from the community with a real need and provide you an opportunity to share the hope of God’s love with them as you meet that critical need.
Hosting a Center Builds Connections in Your Community.
A successful church plant must build connections to people and organizations in the community. Since many church plants do not own a physical building and use rented space for their meetings, it is even more important to build those connections and establish a presence in the area.
One way to build connections is to host a community event, and the best ones to host are those that meet an important need. If you host and promote a Gospel Justice Center, people will learn about your church too!
To help build those connections, every center is provided with a press release template, a social media kit, a webpage, and is featured on Administer Justice’s website for people seeking a Gospel Justice Center.
Whether people learn of your church from flyers about your legal ministry posted throughout your community (libraries, schools, laundromats, or day care centers), or whether they discover you on social media, there will be many opportunities to become known in your community by hosting a center.
Even more important, you will build relationships with local organizations who regularly serve your neighbors. As you get to know them, you can refer people to their services and they can refer people to you. These bridges throughout your community will be attractive to many people seeking a church. Even as people who might not come to a church on a Sunday will come to get legal help on a Saturday, you may also find that people working at those agencies want to come check out your church when they learn about the good work you are doing!
Gospel Justice Centers Change the Culture’s Perception of the Church.
The church is increasingly perceived as apathetic to the needs of the vulnerable by our culture. For your church plant to be successful, it must help change that perception. God clearly calls his church to seek justice for the vulnerable – you can both change our culture’s wrong perception of the church and answer God’s call by hosting a Gospel Justice Center at your church plant.
As the younger generation sees your church stepping into the gap that exists around access to justice, they will be drawn to your church plant and want to know more. Hosting a Gospel Justice Center at your church plant will reflect that your church cares deeply about the vulnerable and attract disillusioned former church-goers in your community to visit your church.
As one church planter said, “It is important for our city to see Jesus’ people loving, serving, and helping our community because it is the right thing to do, not just because we think it will grow the church. We host the Gospel Justice Center as a service to our community. We host the center as a demonstration of God’s Kingdom value of justice.”
Gospel Justice Centers Share the Good News about Jesus.
Ultimately, for your church plant to be successful, people need to hear the good news about Jesus. Every person who comes to your Gospel Justice Center will be offered prayer by a member of your church. As the person shares their situation, there may be opportunity to speak about the hope Jesus offers.
The people who come to our Gospel Justice Centers regularly share how they were given understanding, hope, compassion, and care – they value the prayers and the love that are provided as much as the legal help.
Every year new people put their faith in Jesus after coming to a Gospel Justice Center. And we know they visit the church hosting the center as well. One pastor shared, “We have had two people start attending the church who first started serving with our center.”
As your church demonstrates the love of Jesus by seeking justice for the vulnerable, people will be compelled to see and know the God of justice who loves them and welcomes them.
If you want to see your church plant be successful, then explore hosting a Gospel Justice Center. Church plants have found them to be instrumental in engaging their communities and helping people discover Jesus and the good news of the gospel. It is a surprisingly simple secret to successful church planting.
While the benefits are many, it is easily achievable by a small church plant team and there’s no cost to the church. As church plant pastor Nate Praytor said, “Partnering with Administer Justice allowed us to launch a ‘large church’ ministry in a church plant with only 30 people. Administer Justice has the infrastructure in place in such a way that all we needed to do was fill a few initial positions. With the materials, signs, national call center, etc. all in place, our team is able to show up and focus on the clients in a meaningful way without the massive workload which is carried by AJ.”