In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it is the source, strength, and power of all heresy, including that of the papacy and Mohammedanism. Accordingly, we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through his external Word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word and sacrament is of the devil. Smalcald Articles, III, VIII, par 9-10.
(This article was originally published on January 28, 2012. It has been updated and cleaned up a bit)
Earlier this week a church planting team from our LCMS District came to our congregation to talk about entering into a partnership with our congregation in Nashville, Tennessee. Situated smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, home to the Christian music industry, our congregation is centrally located along what many have termed “church row.” We are one of the smaller churches along this stretch of road in Nashville, but we are growing. Nashville and Davidson County boast a population of approximately 620,000 people, 600,000 12 years earlier. In 2000, there were approximately 591 congregations with 297,312 members. When the statistics are adjusted for children, the figure jumps to just over 400,000 (Source: Association of Religious Data Archives). In 2007, the estimated population was 620,000. The number of churches climbed to 853 and church membership saw a slight increase to 304,238 (Source: Social Explorer using ARDA numbers). You can throw a rock and hit a large, mega, or brand new church in Nashville and its surrounding counties. I may be a little color blind when it comes to distinguishing the colors on the demographic map, but the numbers show pretty close to 50% of the adult population claims membership in a church in Davidson County, the geographic home of the Music City, and more than 60% when children are factored into the equation. So why plant churches when 262 new churches yielded only a slight increase in claimed membership over a 7 year period in Nashville? The answer may surprise you. Continue reading “Why Plant Churches? For Market Share or to Proclaim the Gospel?”