Yes, it was a conversion experience. I went from apathy to advocacy on church planting.

Arriving early to teach a seminary class I was a little annoyed by a poster leftover from the previous class: The most effective way to reach people for Jesus Christ in our generation is to start new churches. For weeks afterward I couldn’t get this out of my mind. Finally, God convinced me, and I converted to agree.

I proposed to the leaders of Wooddale Church that we call a church planting pastor to recruit hundreds from our congregation even though we were in the midst of an expensive building program. The leaders were unanimous: “This is a really bad idea!” Then the Spirit converted them, and a new church with hundreds was launched (that has since ministered to thousands including starting several more new churches).

Since then a network of new Minnesota churches has been birthed out of Wooddale Church — all starting with multiple services and multiple staff (to overcome the common challenges of “low birth weight” churches). One of them is 150 miles north of the Twin Cities. My wife, Charleen, and I started a Bible study with our lake cabin neighbors. There were three couples that Memorial Day weekend. By Labor Day weekend there were 126. The Bible study continued until the next Easter when it became a church with two services. When we worshipped there this past July, there were around 900 in three services in a new building —all this in a rural town of 1,950 population.

To reach America in our generation, we need at least another 100,000 churches in America. May there be many more converts to church planting!

This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.