Church Planting Statistics

21 12 2007

 

averagedaystatistics.gifI know that studies and statistics are important tools that many take advantage of today. Does anyone know if there are any statistics about the people “most likely” to join a new church plant? 

 

 Being new and being small and being contemporary will tend to appeal to a similar type of person, it seems to me. When you begin with a small group that already sees things the same way and that tend to be younger (and healthier), it is much easier to have an outward focus of ministry. 

 

 It gets more difficult as a congregation diversifies and ages. Generations tend to see things differently. Older people have more health problems. Larger congregations will likely have marital difficulties, parenting difficulties, personality conflicts, moral failures, differences of convictions, differences in what is considered offensive language, differences in musical preference, even differences in vocabulary. These things complicate ministry and cannot be ignored. 

 

Many of these things are what I hear criticized about the “traditional church.” But they come with the territory of having succeeded in reaching out to a diverse group of people over the years (or at least surviving long enough to produce one).  

 

 Consequently, every minute that must be devoted to ministering to these various needs is a minute that is taken away from reaching out to the external community. 

 

 Realizing this problem, the traditional church approach is to try and prevent the problems before they occur. How can prevention happen without implementing teaching programs, assistance programs, marriage & parenting classes, etc., etc? These programs also take time and energy away from reaching out to the community.  

 

But aren’t these efforts justified – biblically justified? Problems must be ministered to and prevention through biblical education and programs seems like a reasonable response given the reality we face. These things of necessity are internally focused. How can they not be? Of course if these same things were done for people who had not yet joined the church it would be called out-reach ministry. 

 

Anyway, how are today’s church planters going to keep from becoming internally focused when their churches grow to the point of having these old-fashioned problems?  

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16 responses

21 12 2007
lisaoflongbourn

“how are today’s church planters going to keep from becoming internally focused when their churches grow to the point of having these old-fashioned problems?” After reading this post, I did a little research on your blog to see where you’re coming from, and figure that we’re both coming from generally the same direction. So when I say “you” I’m talking to church planters, not curious pastors. = )

1. What are you planting as a church planter? A building? A weekly meeting? A missions organization? The seeds of the gospel praying that God will save the unsaved in the community who will come together to form a Church in the biblical sense – a gathering of believers?

2. Can you really plant a gathering of believers? Is that the call of an evangelist?

3. If you do feel called to outreach, why are you leading a church? The pastor/elder/overseer of the Bible is a shepherd, ministering to the already saved in the ways listed as “old fashioned problems” above.

4. The Church understood as a gathering is to be internally focused. Paul prayed that the churches would grow together in unity, and mature towards the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Spiritual gifts are given to edify the body (the already-saved). All Christians are called to preach the gospel to every creature, but that is not the mission when the Christians gather – thus constituting the Church. (Someone on your other post about church planting said he believes “that a church is a group of two or more scripturally baptized believers who agree together to fulfill the Great Commission.” I do not see that definition in the Bible or in a Greek or English dictionary.)

5. When preaching the gospel, one should be simply obedient, proclaiming the truth of sin, death, resurrection, and trust to the unsaved. Evangelism is not surveys or invitations to movie nights at church, though those things may accompany it.

Do you see what I’m saying?
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

21 12 2007
kclick

Thanks for posting your thoughts Lisa of Longbourn.

It’s nice to meet you (so to speak).

I’ll wait for others to comment on what you’ve written before I do.

26 12 2007
kclick

Thoughts… anyone?

27 12 2007
scott

Ken’s Question:
Anyway, how are today’s church planters going to keep from becoming internally focused when their churches grow to the point of having these old-fashioned problems?

First, the ultimate Biblical ideal of a church is a group of mulitgenerational disciples not just a slice of the demographic pie.

Second, the situation you present isn’t really an either/or choice. I don’t think you have to sacrifice outreach or being focused on evangelism to also develop people to maturity in Jesus Christ.
I would also argue if whatever “programs” or “teaching” we have in our churches do not produce mature disciples who can share their faith and disciple others then we aren’t really making disciples.

Third, the problem in American churches is the idolization of self. Consumerism has so influenced our culture that our view of the church and why it exists is understood through selfish lenses. Part of the answer to that problem, I believe, is to teach every believer they must feed themselves (not depend on me alone as their Jesus crutch), they need to disciple their own families. We also need to teach them that the essence of church isn’t a program or a Bible study but a lifestyle of holiness & service.

Fourth, maybe another answer to the difficulty of edify vs evangelism issue is simplifying how we do church. I think sometimes we over program and over organize what a church should be “doing.” Maybe subtracting some of the busy-ness of the church calendar and replacing that busy-ness with services & projects that are externally
focused would help. Or subtract the busy-ness and replace it with no programming.

I don’t have the answers on this difficult question, but we are trying to figure them out here in Mercer. I am convinced there are answers to these questions because after all – the gospel did make it from Jerusalem to us. Someone figured out how to edify & evangelize without making it an either / or situation.

scott

27 12 2007
kclick

I appreciate your thoughts Scott.

I want you to know I’m praying for you and your church to succeed.

Happy New Year!

28 12 2007
lisaoflongbourn

My church on Sunday mornings feels over organized, but the rest of the week the church doesn’t seem to be the source of busy-ness. Christians need to take responsibility for their priorities and cut back on the busy-ness of the parts of their lives that have nothing to do with ministry. Do you think Paul took the time to take in a play, just to relax? I need to apply this to my life, too. When I was at a church camp this summer, I saw all that could be accomplished in a day. It makes me sad over average days.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

28 12 2007
kclick

Lisa, thanks for your comments.

Did that “day at church camp” happen spontaneously or as a result of many days of intense planning beforehand?

Every day comes with its own blessings and challenges. Some of the best are the quiet ones alone with God… doing nothing but being His.

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

9 01 2008
jonathon smith

wow you said alot in that post! I don’t know when “crap” became acceptable but it was after “dung” became acceptable and after “****” became unacceptable and after “stool” became acceptable and after “poo” or “poop” became acceptable for our kids. I used to call it “doodoo” when I was a kid…..our culture is wierd…..multiple words for the same thing and somehow we determine some acceptable and some unacceptable……that’s the sillyness of tradition. Maybe now you get the point of why some people are fed up with tradition…..its inconsistant and based on preference and culture or subcultures more often than not!

I wouldn’t call them old fashioned problems because they still happen….that would make them a human problems(sin). From someone who has been working with a young church that has become more diversified in age over the years the answer is actually in your own post.

you said
“Problems must be ministered to and prevention through biblical education and programs seems like a reasonable response given the reality we face.”
a lack of outreach must be addressed as a problem just like you would address these other issues. Just like you develop a mentality that emphasizes studying the bible you have to equally and actively address the problem of being to internally focussed. Of course the leadership has to believe it is a real problem or it won’t get done. You must have programs in place that address the issue of becoming to internally focussed.ie.(Missions Conferences, Annual Mission Trips, Community Service, Friend Days, Evangelism Training etc etc) Most churches don’t

In essence this is exactly the philosophy from which Rick Warren developed his “Purpose Driven Church”. He got it from the 1:5:4 principle that has been around for decades. 1 mission—the Great Commission– 5 ways to fulfill that mission–Evangelism, Worship, Ministry, Fellowship, Discipleship—4 products – spiritual growth, numerical growth, mission and reproduction(not sure if I got the last four totally correct). There has to be a committment to the Great Commission and then a balanced approach to biblically fullfilling that mission……..Most churches aren’t balanced in the 5 “purposes” which is really what your question was.

9 01 2008
kclick

Jonathan, you wrote:
“…our culture is wierd…..multiple words for the same thing and somehow we determine some acceptable and some unacceptable……that’s the sillyness of tradition.”

Offensive words are always determined by culture. It may be silly… but it’s true. If a word is culturally vulgar or rude it is not the same as a similar word that is not vulgar or rude. The “vulgar-ness” and offensiveness is part of the meaning the speaker or writer intends to convey by selecting that word instead of another.

I’ve edited the vulgar word out of your post…

11 01 2008
lisaoflongbourn

I don’t think “programs” like Missions weeks have to be in place to keep the Church properly balanced with outreach. I think that the Bible has to be taught. And the Church must be engaged in discipleship.

Anyway, I guess programs might refocus a congregation, but they won’t be a holistic solution. The Church needs more than programs. They need God.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

11 01 2008
jonathon smith

well what you see is a culture in transition…..Why do we still use the KJV then……there are multiple offensive words to our culture there…..do you want me to make a list of them or will you censor biblical words?

What is your definition of programs lisa? Is it any time there is a resemblance of organization? Sunday School is a program do you do that one? Of course the church needs more than programs thats a third grade answer…..that’s like the obvious…hello…..why do people just start regurgitating rhetoric that has no logic behind it?

11 01 2008
jonathon smith

Bro. Click I know how you are thinking…I use to think the way you do….You think you are somehow defending the faith but you’re not. Very little of what you are writing has anything to do with the 21 doctrines we hold to. What you are defending is your preferences and trying to make others feel as if they don’t have the same preferences as you that they are somehow not as faithful or spiritual.

In Christian Love,
Jonathon D Smith

11 01 2008
lisaoflongbourn

God is the author of peace and order, so I’m not opposed to that. What I mean by program is when a list of rules and formulae replace the individual responsibility of discipleship and encouragement that is responsive to the needs of other believers and the result of investing in their personal relationship with God to fuel their ministry.

Dictionary.com defines program as:
a plan or schedule of activities, procedures, etc., to be followed.

Just now God is teaching me a lot about His plans, and how they compare to our plans. I did a whole Sunday school lesson on it (and copied the notes to my blog). So yes, I do Sunday school. But if I were designing a Church, Sunday mornings would look a lot different. No one teacher would have spent the whole week preparing a lesson to fill an hour. Each follower of Jesus would be expected to pay attention to God and His word during the week and the floor would be opened for men to share what God taught or emphasized to they and their family during the week. It wouldn’t be predictable or scheduled or outlined. That is, in fact, how my brother already teaches Sunday school.

Hoping to edify Christian love, I would like to say that I am not regurgitating rhetoric (my church is very fond of programs, and not all that fond of saying we have too many), but have years of thought and experience and practice behind the comments I made.

John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

1 Corinthians 14:26, “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”

1 Corinthians 14:30-31, “If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”

kclick,
The day at church camp was every day. And the camp, of course, was the result of much planning. But what I’m talking about is just the getting up in the morning, eating breakfast, reading my Bible, praying, interacting intentionally with others, singing praise songs. Those things don’t actually need a lot of planning. The one problem I see with implementing something like that in everyday life is cooking. Someone has to cook that good breakfast that gets you going, and if it is myself taking the time, well, I’d rather just eat toast most days!

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

11 01 2008
kclick

Thanks for your comments Jonathon,

I want to commend you for continuing to read my thoughts even though we don’t quite see eye to eye. That is uncommon these days.

Many people just refuse to read (or listen) to anyone with different views. Oddly enough the ones who like to talk about being “open” and “unconditionally loving” and “nonjudgmental” are usually the first to go.

I’m willing to listen and learn from you.

If you will be patient with me and carefully explain your thinking I’ll do my best to understand.

I’ll also do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt and be slow to take offence.

11 01 2008
jonathon smith

Hey brother, If I didn’t think you would be a Christian I wouldn’t offer some of the thoughts that I bring up. I appreciate your blog 🙂

11 01 2008
kclick

Lisa,

Thanks for your input.

I understand what you’re saying.

There is nothing sweeter than drawing close to God with an open heart in worshipful surrender.

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