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January 19, 2009Church Planting, Research

State of Church Planting

Leadership Network commissioned me and a team I put together to research the state of church planting in North America. The findings are encouraging, while pointing out we still have a long way to go. The State of Church Planting in North America is a four-part report: Church Planting Overview, Who Starts New Churches, Improving the Health and Survivability of New Churches, and Funding New Churches. Below are some highlights from the Church Planting Overview, but you will want to download all of the reports. You can download the study in its entirety here via the American Society of Church Growth Journal. You can also download a podcast we did related to the study.

Summary

North American Christians are interested in church planting in a way not seen for many decades. In response, Leadership Network commissioned a research project that surveyed over 200 churchplanting churches, more than 100 denominational leaders from dozens of denominations, and over 45 church planting networks.

The study revealed four interesting current realities.

We're Starting More Churches Than Ever

Though tracking the number of new churches is difficult because so many new churches are connected to and claimed by multiple partnering entities, Leadership Network says we are planting about 4,000 new churches a year. This is an all time high.

We Are Cooperating More Broadly

A second discovery from Leadership Network's research shows that this generation's church planting organizations display a heart of cooperation and resource. Free on-line tools abound--denominational training manuals, research papers, how-to articles, as well as audio and video training. This cooperation indicates an obvious "kingdom mentality" in the church planting community that expands beyond denomination or regional allegiances.

We Are Less Denominationally Governed and More Networked

At this point the most "successful church planting seems to be moving quickly from denominational structures to hands-on local churches and networks." This does not mean Denominations are uninvolved. In fact church planting is on the rise within denominations. But the majority of successful church plants are plugged into networks, and even denominations are partnering with networks as they seek to establish new churches.

We Are Learning to Be More Evangelistically Effective

Today there is an increasing emphasis on systems that will produce better and more consistent results in church planting. These systems include recruitment, assessment, training, coaching, prayer, and funding.

All of this is good news, and as I said in the report, "I believe the intelligence and creativity exists within this generation of leaders to make a significant impact on reaching the unchurched in the U.S." And yet, we are still waiting for a true church planting movement to rise up in North America.

The state of church planting in the U.S. is diverse, sophisticated, and yet by many measures stronger than ever. Yet, we have still not witnessed a true church planting movement to this date.

Be sure to check out the resources available at Leadership Network and linked at the beginning of this post, and the entire study can be found here.

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