An old church denomination has a new approach to church-planting. The result has been the formation of three new congregations in Dallas, Texas. The 350-year-old Reformed Church in America broke from traditional methods of church mission with its “Dallas Project.” The 155 persons who attended the first services last month were the fruit of a complex program of statistical research, telephone surveys, and media promotions.

Other denominations have used single elements of the program, said Peter M. Paulsen, executive pastor of the project. But Paulsen said that the Dallas offensive is unique because all those elements—research, testing, and the media—have been combined in one package. Arie Brouwer, the chief executive of the New York-based denomination, said in a newspaper interview that Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ are watching closely the results of the project.

The Dallas Project came from a $6 million, five-year church growth drive within the 215,000-member body. Concerned about decreasing membership figures, church leaders set a minimum goal of twenty-five new churches a year. They were particularly interested in areas that had no Reformed Church influence.

Dallas was selected for the initial thrust of the church growth drive only after extensive demographic research had been made of several U.S. cities.

Historically, the Reformed Church has appealed to persons with above average income and education, said Paulsen. And he said that the surveys were assessed with those criteria in mind. Dallas was finally selected because “it tends to be an area dominated by well-educated, well-paid nuclear families.”

The Reformed Church is not being exclusive or class-conscious by using this approach, Paulsen said. He notes ...

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