Church Planting & Revitalization

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3

The last phase of our approach, church advancement, is the establishment of new churches and the revitalization of older ones. The ultimate goal of our ministry’s mission regarding the advancement of the Christian worldview is to see people commit their lives to Jesus Christ. When you read the following you will understand why the need for new churches is paramount to our mission.

(1) According to David Olson, director of church planting for Evangelical Covenant Church, less than 20% of Americans attend church on a given Sunday. Numbers from actual counts in Catholic, mainline and evangelical churches show that in 2004, 17.7% of the American population attended church on any given Sunday.

Another study published in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2005) by C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up Olson’s findings.

(2) American church attendance is slowly declining. In 1990, 20.4% of the American population attended an Orthodox Christian church on any given Sunday. By 2000, that percentage dropped to 18.7%, then declined further in 2004, to 17.7%.

Olson explains that church attendance as remained steady from 1990 t0 2004, however the U.S. population has grown by 18.1% – which translates to over 48 million people. Essentially churches are not keeping up with our country’s population growth.

Thom Rainer, well-known author and church researcher, notes that the church’s greatest challenge heading into the future is keeping up with our nation’s population growth. In a 2002 survey comprising 1,159 churches, Rainer’s research discovered that only 6% of these churches were growing. He defined growth as increasing beyond the community’s population growth. This means that 94% of our churches are actually losing ground.

(3) The increase in churches is only ¼ of what’s needed to keep up with America’s population growth. Between 2000 and 2004 the net gain in the number of evangelical churches was 5,452. However, mainline and Catholic churches closed more churches than they started. Olson cites, that in the 21st century the net gain in churches has amounted to only 800 each year.

It is estimated that 10,000 more churches are needed. To keep up with population growth from 2000 to 2004, a net gain of 13,024 churches was necessary. Unfortunately, we incurred a 10,000 church deficit regarding the number of churches.

This is a serious state of affairs for American Christianity. The reason for our emphasis on new churches – is that – studies show that church plants are the most effective means of evangelism and church growth.

If there is no turn in the downward trend of church attendance, the percentage of Americans attending church on a given Sunday is projected to be 11.7%. The American church needs to be the foundation of American culture, because if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?