Monday, January 10, 2011

Local pastor stirs up controversy again—this time with new book

Pastor Gerry Stoltzfoos of Gettysburg releases new book 83 Lost Sheep, a autobiographical book claiming that opening new churches across the country is the answer to America’s problems.
Gettysburg, PA (Jan. 5, 2011)— In the past decade, Pastor Gerry Stoltzfoos has managed to stir up controversy in Adams County and beyond.

In 2007, he was the focus of ABC’s Nightline study of “speaking in tongues,” a Pentecostal method of prayer. Two years later, he was asked to open a Pennsylvania House session in prayer, only to be rejected by lawmaking officials for wanting to use the name of Jesus—a decision that sent local Christians into a frenzy.

Addressing yet another issue, Stoltzfoos is releasing his new book 83 Lost Sheep, in which he discusses America’s sharp decline in church attendance. “I feel like we lost,” he writes in his newly released book 83 Lost Sheep. “My fellow pastors and I should be weeping in shame.”
His 160-page book goes on to outline his desire to open 1,000 churches in his lifetime, by training and mentoring teams of people who would set out to start new churches from scratch, much like he and his wife started Freedom Valley Worship Center in Gettysburg 18 years ago.

“Church is important because it connects entire communities to Jesus, who is the healer of families and heartaches and addictions,” Stoltzfoos said. “And continually opening new churches invites more people to get involved, and more communities to get connected to the heart of Jesus.”

But not everyone agrees that “church planting,” as he calls it, is the way to healthy communities. In his book, Stoltzfoos recounts his experiences with aggressive opponents of his theory—many of them pastors and church attenders.

“If we got serious about reaching our world, it would require as many as half of all churches to get involved in planting churches. If we did this, within the next 100 years, we could seriously change the momentum and begin to reach American culture,” Stoltzfoos explains. “It’s been done before. It can be done again.”

The title 83 Lost Sheep is a reference to the 83% of Americans who do not attend church, and to the Biblical teaching in Luke 10, in which Jesus sends out his disciples to gather the “lost sheep.”

“Somehow we have all been fooled into believing that it’s time to maintain, not time to grow,” Stoltzfoos writes. “Instead of planting new churches, we should just mow our grass and clean the windows and take out the trash. This could not be further from the truth. If we are going to prevail, we must plant churches.”

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