New churches tend to be risk-takers in their ministry mentality. In general, they are able and willing to try new things, approach new people, and frame their ministries in a way that results in new people becoming Christ followers. They tend to be more connected culturally to the shifting world around them. Established churches can ensure a continuation and increase of the gospel in the Northeast by prioritizing the starting of new churches along with the continued development of their own ministries. Data from p. 8 of Ed Stetzer’s Planting Missional Churches, 2006.
Reason #2 - Planting new churches helps parent churches grow.
Despite what some may think, the typical church that starts a new church tends to do better itself. One reason is because churches committed to starting new churches focus on developing and deploying leaders while engaging people with the gospel. These efforts help the mother church grow in its own ministry impact while planting new churches. One study demonstrated that churches which started other churches experienced a 22% increase in their own worship attendance over the next 5 years, while financial giving increased 48%. Data from Dr. Jeffrey Farmer’s PhD dissertation, “Church Planting Sponsorship,” New Orleans Seminary, 2007.
Reason #3 - America is growing while churches are dying.
America grew by almost 35 million people between 2000 and 2010. David Olson estimated that 55,000 churches will close between 2005 and 2020. With that projection, 108,000 new churches are needed in the US in the same time frame just to maintain the status quo. Planting projections show we are barely planting half of what is needed. (The American Church in Crisis, p. 176).
David Olson also demonstrated that, on average, new churches grow markedly through the first 10 years of their existence. See the graph below. That growth drops immediately in years 11 – 40. After year 40, the average church is in decline for every decade for the next 100+ years!
These realities mean existing churches need help in revitalization efforts. It also means an increase in focus on church planting is needed across the country. The Northeast deserves twice the effort since the status quo is still 2-5% evangelical in most places.
Chart from David Olson’s, The American Church in Crisis, 2008, p. 83
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