The church in America is in decline. According to research by Gallup, church attendance in the U.S. has fallen from 62 percent in 1994 to 53 percent in 2012, a 9% loss. One example is the Churches of Christ, which have declined by 9.8% since 1990.
Since 1990, the population in the U.S. has grown from 250 million to 320 million, an increase of 22%. If the U.S. population continues to grow at this rate and church attendance continues to decline at its current rate over the next 25 years, it will take approximately 1.6 million new Christians per year just to keep pace with the population growth.
Research by Olson (2005) indicates that new churches grow faster than old ones. In fact, once the average church reaches 40 years of age, it actually begins decreasing.
According to The Christian Post, 4000 new churches are planted each year. However, if we figure that they have an average attendance of 200 people (perhaps an unrealistic assumption), we are still 4000 churches shy of staying even with current trends.
What does this mean? Either we need better methods of evangelism or we need more churches. Perhaps the old adage, “It is easier to have a baby than raise the dead” is an apt lesson in this case. My post, Boom or Bust? State of the Church in America, discusses additional reasons to plant churches.
We need more churches!
Why Plant Churches?
Boom or Bust? State of the Church in America
Excellent video that begs the question, “What’s the difference” between all of us? Rich, poor, weak, strong–we are all the same in God’s eyes. This is also a fantastic way for your church to spread the love of Jesus.
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Stories of Homeless People
Helping Homeless K-12 Students
Neil is right on when he says, “When God wants to start a movement, he doesn’t begin with the best people; he starts with the broken.” This is what Jesus meant when he advised a Pharisee leader not to invite his friends and rich neighbors to a banquet. Instead, he says, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” because “God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you”(Luke 14:13-14).
In what ways can you intentionally invite the poor and broken into your life?
Hope for the Poor
This is Discipleship
According to The US Congregational Life Survey (2/17/14 from USCongregations.org), two percent of worship attendees are visiting a particular congregation for the first time. What do they look like?
1. The largest age group of first-time visitors was between 25-44 years old and the average age was 41. The majority (54%) of first-time visitors were not married. And over 1 in 4 (27%) had never been married.
First-time visitors are typically younger people who are not necessarily married. Perhaps this indicates that they are in a life transition, or that they are looking for spiritual significance in their lives.
2. Slightly less than half of first-time visitors (48%) were attending services at another church before their visit; however; 52% were visiting a new church.
First-time visitors are attracted to new churches. This bolsters the significance and attractiveness of church plants. Often, new churches offer a freshness and vitality that older churches do not. (See the video, Why Plant Churches?)
3. 13% had never attended anywhere before their visit and another 15% said they had not attended another congregation for several years.
Non-believers and jaded Christians are still searching. We should never neglect this segment of the population by assuming that visitors are familiar with our worship styles or church “lingo”. And, we need to ramp up our evangelistic efforts to reach non-believers. This means serving people outside of our church “walls” and being involved more in our communities.
What other observations can you draw from this research?
Fall in Love With Jesus First
What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?