The Christian Post released a new article about the state of church planting in the United States (Source):
After decades of net decline, more U.S. churches are being started each year than are being closed.
The credit largely goes to the recent increase in enthusiasm for church planting. Stetzer, who leads LifeWay Research, says church planting has become the “it” thing right now and the new evangelism .
Plus, according to FACT2008, the healthiest churches are those that reproduce. Also, the authors emphasize that most new churches survive. After four years, 68 percent of new churches still exist and 70 percent attain self-sufficiency by the fifth year.
Every year, approximately 4,000 churches are birthed in the U.S. (500 more than are closed). But much of the church plants have been focused on addition rather than multiplication, the authors point out.
There may be a hesitancy to having a church planting emphasis because “the thinking seems to be [that] there’s a church on every corner and most of them are empty,” state the authors, who have led and studied church plants.
But research shows that new churches fare better when it comes to drawing new people and they have a higher ratio of conversions and baptisms compared to more established churches, according to Viral Churches.
This is good news to me.
Traditionally, my denominational system had a governing body that initiated the planting of new churches. They’d raise money, determine a location, gather a team, and then plant a church. They have successfully launched 2 churches, maybe 3 that still exist since the early 1990s. Not a good track record.
Money first, location and organizing team later.
What happens when there is no money – no church planting. That’s what happened.
This past week, I spoke with another church planting coach, and the question we were dancing around dealt with funding new church developments. To look for funding first may be the wrong leg to start on. While it’s an important piece, does it have to come first?
Though I’ve been involved in 2 church plants, each was unique.
The first had a very generous benefactors that believed in the vision. Momentum, passion, vision, timing all seemed to come into play to launch a church that is now 7 years old. It’s plateaued now, and the turnover in people is huge. It still exists as a congregation, but I hear it’s facing different challenges.
Our current church plant
The second one is a parachute drop – we are working with immigrants from another country who moved here to work among fellow immigrants and locals. We are in a high density urban zone neighborhood of 65,000 people that has 7 churches, of which 6 are under 100 in size.
It’s been a two years struggle to build a core group. No funding other than missionary support and tent making. No benefactors who give nearly $500,000. I sell my ebooks on church hospitality at this website here which is 1/5 of our income.
However that core group of mostly new Christians met for over a year in an apartment. They stepped out in faith after one year and rented a hotel room for a Sunday. 75 people attended the first gathering a few weeks ago. We’ve received almost enough provision to rent the hotel room again for our next service.
We keep praying that we’ll make an impact where we live, planting a church that plants churches. It’s not easy work by any means.
As I’ve talked with other church planters in my city, hotel rental costs are outrageously expensive, and any other locale is just as expensive. Getting to self-sufficiency through offerings is really tough. Land prices in the neighborhood have quadrupled in 3 years.
As I reflect upon my conversation with the church planting coach, I keep wondering how we can help church planters launch new churches when denominational money is drying out. I don’t have all the answers.
I’d love for our new congregation to be viral. Join us in our prayer, that our current church would plant churches.