Why We're Planting A New Church In Twin Falls.

One of the most frequently asked questions I've received since moving to Twin Falls to plant a new church is....Why? That question is then followed by a small series of questions: Why Twin Falls? Why another church? Doesn't Twin Falls already have enough churches?

So I thought I'd share some of our primary reasons for planting a new church in this city.

1. It's biblical

I'm not going to take the time to quote every passage in the bible that talks about church planting, but it is clear as you read the New Testament, that planting new churches is of primary importance. The entire book of Acts is devoted to showing us the result of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Christ-followers. That result was the church spreading throughout the entire world. In particular, Acts 13 and 14 tells us about the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. What did they do? They preached the gospel. What was the result? Churches were planted. Beyond the book of Acts, the rest of the New Testament is written to churches. How did those churches get there? People went into cities, preached the gospel, gathered believers, and established churches.

This is a cycle that's never to end until the return of Jesus.  

2. Calling

Our second reason for moving here was calling. First, we couldn't stop a couple of people from literally calling us on the phone, asking us to plant a church here. Second, we simply couldn't get around the fact that God was stirring our hearts to move to this city. I'll admit, it wasn't our first choice. Many people, when they ask, "why Twin Falls," usually ask with a tone of why in the heck would you do that? And I get the tone. There isn't much that's inherently exciting about Twin Falls. But this doesn't mean we ditch the call of God for something a little more sexy. We knew that if we ignored this calling, we'd be just like Jonah. I don't think we would have been eaten by a whale (though I suppose something like that could have happened) but we certainly would have been fleeing what we knew God wanted us to do.

3. We love Twin Falls

Our third reason for planting a church here is that we love the city. That's right. We love Twin Falls. We find her to be truly beautiful. This isn't the view we always had. Abby and I grew up here. I graduated from Twin Falls High School (go Bruins!). Most of our lives were lived in Twin Falls. And when we left for Seattle, we never imagined moving back (as with most who leave this city). But in the midst of God calling us back to this city, he was also breaking our hearts for her. We were able to look at Twin Falls, not as where we grew up or a city lacking in excitement, fun, and life, but as a city that God loves. I think we could say that he's been giving us his eyes for the people here. Furthermore, he has established a core group with the same heart.

Taproot Church Twin Falls loves Twin Falls! 

4. Twin Falls needs more churches

This point is a little difficult to tackle because it seems to mostly be a matter of opinion and perspective. (Or is it?) It's true that Twin Falls has a lot of churches (there's at least a lot of church buildings). But just because it seems like there's a lot of churches at first glance, doesn't mean we don't need new ones. 

Prior to moving to Twin Falls, I had a conversation with someone about the spiritual health of the city. That person told me Twin Falls is one of the most spiritually healthy places they knew. They then emphatically told me, "Twin Falls doesn't need more churches!" Now, I don't have exact numbers to tell me whether this city is spiritually healthy or not, but I wholeheartedly disagree. In fact, one of the continual story lines I've heard and seen since moving here is that the city is broken. And though there may be many here living lives filled with religion and good morals, many of these are far from Jesus. Furthermore, over half of the population of Twin Falls has no association with any religion at all. Some might conclude that's good enough, but I think we should keep preaching the gospel and planting churches until all are followers of Jesus or until he returns.

Timothy Keller is one of the greatest thinkers I know on why we need to continue planting churches in cities. Listen to the excerpt from his book Center Church.

The way to grow the number of Christians in a city is not mainly through church renewal but through church planting. When stagnant churches go through a renewal phase and begin to grow, it is typically through transfer growth from other churches. Strong programs attract believers who are suffering under poor preaching, poor discipleship offerings, or other signs of unhealthy discipleship elsewhere. But even older renewed churches cannot integrate unchurched persons like a new congregation can. Studies confirm that the average new church gains one-third to two-thirds of its new members form the ranks of people who are not attending any worshiping body, while churches over ten to fifteen years of age gain 80 to 90 percent of new members by transfer growth from other congregations. The average new congregation, then, will bring new people into the life of the body of Christ at six to eight times the rate of an older congregation of the same size. 

Keller goes on to say...

So how many churches does your city need? The reality is that churches are institutions. Some of them endure because they are continually revitalized, but all of them lose some flexibility; many of them stagnate for long periods between revitalizations, and a certain percentage die every year. We have seen, then, that it requires at least modest church planting in a city just to keep the body of Christ from steadily declining, and aggressive church planting is needed to grow the whole body–meaning ten to twenty relatively new churches in relation to every hundred existing churches...Studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that if there is one church per ten thousand residents, approximately 1 percent of the population will be churchgoers. If this ratio goes to one church per one thousand residents, some 15 to 20 percent of the city's population goes to church. If the number goes to one per five hundred residents, the number may approach 40 percent or more. The relationship of the number of churches to churchgoing people is exponential, not linear. We should not, then, simply aim to maintain the church's traditional place in a city or society. We long to see Christianity grow exponentially in conversions, churches, and influence in our city. While it requires many kinds of ministries to achieve this outcome, aggressive church planting is the trigger for them all.*

In his book Planting Missional Churches, Ed Stetzer writes, "C. Peter Wagner asserts, 'The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.' That's because church plants can often engage persons within the lost culture in a way that established churches cannot or will not.** 

All that being said, I, in agreement with the above quotes, believe the single most effective way for more to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ is through planting more churches. Taproot Church Twin Falls does not believe she is the end all be all of churches in Twin Falls. We're praying earnestly to plant more churches in Twin Falls, the Magic Valley, and beyond. As long as people aren't following Jesus (being discipled) we're going to labor to plant more churches.

5. Why Not?

Our fifth reason may seem simplistic, but think about it. Why not? Does it really hurt the city of Twin Falls and the Magic Valley to have one more church added to the list? I certainly hope and pray not. In fact, our prayer is to be a church to this city and valley, that if we were gone, we'd be missed. As much as possible, we will pour our resources into the flourishing of this city because we are here in the city for the city.

6. To know Jesus and make him known

Our final reason is the most important. It's why Taproot Church Twin Falls exists. In all we do, we want to know Jesus more and make him more known to the city around us. If at any point we've missed Jesus, then I agree it's unhelpful for us to be here. But all we do is because Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn't, died the death we should have, and rose victoriously from the grave reversing the curse of sin, death, and hell. In this, Jesus makes a way for all humanity to be reconciled (made right), into a right relationship with the God of the universe. We want as many as possible to hear this amazing good news.

There are many more reasons I could add to the list, but I think the above six sum it up well. I'd invite you to pray for us, join us, or even challenge our existence if you'd like, but in the end, Jesus the King is ruling and reigning, and because of this reality, we're here to preach the gospel and plant churches that will lift his name high.

For more information about Taproot Church Twin Falls, you can visit our website.   

* Quoted from Center Church by Timothy Keller. Page 359 and 362.

** Quoted from Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer. Page 33.

Harvest

We've now lived on a farm for the past 6 months. Our house is surrounded by a 168 acre field of potatoes, and across the street is a pasture filled with cattle. Down the road is a hay field. And everywhere else we look we see corn, wheat, barley, beans, and more.

I grew up surrounded by farming, but I never really paid attention to how the whole operation works. I just knew guys got out in the fields on their tractors and when the sun started to shine, things grew. But this year I've been able to watch it all. I've watched the dirt get turned for the first time. The seeds get planted. The water turned on. The crops start to grow. The crop dusters fly. The fields are cared for constantly, making sure that everything is just right. And now, it's time for harvest.

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I am especially excited for harvest. 

Harvest is a unique season. There's a new kind of excitement in the air. Around the farm you can feel it. Everyone knows, that if all continues to go well, that all the hard work will pay off. The men are busy on their tractors from early morning to late at night. Trucks full of grain are regularly passing by the house filled with fresh barley from the fields. The workers are relatively few, but the harvest is certainly plentiful.

Many people have asked us why we came to Twin Falls. They are curious why we think the city needs another church and why we can't just join one that already exists? Those are certainly good questions. And I know I could have hours long conversations debating why we should or shouldn't be in Twin Falls, Idaho. But we're here. And there are two simple reason why.

First, we simply believe God has called us here. Twin Falls was not our first choice for a city to start a church in. There are many other places that would have been "cooler" "more fun" or more "strategic." At least in my own mind. But this is the city God chose to break our hearts for. It's the city we grew up in. It's the city we know. It's the city we love. It's the city we want to see transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Second, we believe there is a huge harvest in Twin Falls just waiting to be harvested. And we believe more laborers are needed for that harvest. I know this because I've been involved with other local church and I've talked with the local pastors, and all of them say the same thing; "We need more workers." Jesus himself said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38).

So here we are. We're ready to work. And we're ready to equip others to get to work!

I'm excited about the harvest God has in store. It's a harvest that belongs, not to one single local church, but rather to the one who is the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. So I'm happy to join with other churches in Twin Falls to do the long and hard work of laboring for the harvest of the Lord!

To God alone be the glory! 

Be A Friend Of Sinners

As we begin the process of planting Taproot Church, one of the realities about the life of Jesus that stands out to me most is that he was–and still is–a friend of sinners. Jesus was continually found hanging out with the outcasts of his culture. The tables of tax-collectors, lepers, and sinners were the ones he frequented for his meal time (Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:15; Luke 15:2).

Yesterday I came upon this quote:

To put it simply, Jesus did not keep his distance from anyone who needed the love of God, whether they needed liberation from demons, healing of sickness, or forgiveness of sin. This was his mission from God, and it left him no room for protecting himself from being contaminated by the impurity or immorality of others.*

My prayer for Taproot Twin Falls is that she would be a people who befriends sinners. I'm praying that we would risk contamination to see the poor, the marginalized, the weak–the ones who need the love of God most–actually experience his love.

*Quoted from Jesus: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Bauckham.