Category Archives: Church Planting

Formally researching locations for the new church plant

Last Sunday was an exciting one at The Crossings Church. Senior minister Robert Cox made the big announcement that between now and the end of the year our congregation will be researching locations for our next church plant.

Regular readers are already aware that Airiel and I aspire to be part of the plant team, and we are very excited this process is now formally underway – it’s going to be fun!

The Crossings has a unique approach to church planting that others can learn from, and I’ve been soaking up everything I can. Continue reading


Total U.S. Churches No Longer In Decline?

According to Stetzer & Bird, they’re not, and that’s great news! Stetzer & Bird report about 4,000 new churches are being planted in the U.S. each year while 3,500 are closing their doors.

From The Christian Post:

We often hear about churches closing their doors in the U.S. But some may be surprised to hear that the total number of churches is not in decline anymore.

An important shift happened in recent years, according to researchers Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird. After decades of net decline, more U.S. churches are being started each year than are being closed.

The credit largely goes to the recent increase in enthusiasm for church planting. Stetzer, who leads LifeWay Research, says church planting has become the “it” thing right now and the new evangelism … “[C]hurch planting is on the mind of North American Christians at unprecedented levels,” they write.

Despite the aggressive increase in church launches, a massive church planting phenomenon hasn’t happened yet and the co-authors are hoping to help Christians move past certain obstacles in order to orchestrate a viral movement.

That means, church planting must move from being a fad or “the next big thing” to a “passionate pursuit of the lost.”

Stetzer & Bird go on to address the hesitancy some have toward church planting:

There may be a hesitancy to having a church planting emphasis because “the thinking seems to be [that] there’s a church on every corner and most of them are empty,” state the authors, who have led and studied church plants.

But research shows that new churches fare better when it comes to drawing new people and they have a higher ratio of conversions and baptisms compared to more established churches, according to Viral Churches.

“The only way to increase the number of Christians in a city is to plant thousands of new churches,” said Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, according to Viral Churches.

Growing churches make up only about 20 percent of all U.S. churches today. The rest have reached a plateau or are declining.

“Studies have shown that, in general, churches typically plateau in attendance by their fifteenth year, and by about thirty-five years they begin having trouble replacing the members they lose,” the book states. “[A]mong evangelical churches, those under three years old will win ten people to Christ per year for every hundred members. Those three to fifteen years old will win five people per year for every hundred members. After age fifteen the number drops to three per year.”

Read the full story here.

I’m all for church planting and am thrilled about the successes, but is it really our only – as in, singular – hope?

Does a church’s “age” really determine whether or not the people making it up can tell others about Jesus?

I’m more inclined to believe whether a church is reaching people or not has more to do with leadership than age. Perhaps church plants are generally led better than older churches? Perhaps they have a vision coupled with the passion to achieve it and that’s often missing from older churches?

Could it be that the results of this study tell us every bit as much about the benefits of solid leadership as they do the benefits of church planting? Possibly so …

Anyway, I’m glad to hear this – the news is good. 🙂

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Neil Cole’s critique of multi-site churches

I just finished reading a five part blog series critiquing multi-site churches by Neil Cole, author of Organic Church and Organic Leadership.

For those of you  unfamiliar with the term multi-site church: a multi-site church is one church that utilizes multiple gathering places at the same time for their meetings.

Let’s say a church has a building that seats 500 people comfortably, but they grow to over 600 and have to switch to two services – morning and late. Pretty soon, both services are filled with people, so they switch to another. Within a few months, the third service is full. It seems the only option is to build a new building, and that’s extremely expensive! But is that the only option?

No, it’s not. Instead of going the expensive route and building a new building, that church decides instead to rent space at the strip mall up the road that has seating for 300 people. Now, instead of spending millions on new land and a new building, they lease space at the strip mall fairly cheaply and send several hundred of their people to the new venue. This frees up much of the space at the original location and allows for even more growth.

Many churches are doing this today. In many people’s minds, this is clearly the best way to spend a church’s money, and some churches grow so large that they have to repeat this process several times and end up with six or seven campuses in a single city.

You ask, “But what about having a church leader on site?” Simple –  another staff person is hired to oversee the new location. They’ll be the church’s pointman there to handle the face to face interaction and do whatever else needs to be done.

“But what about the preaching?” Simple too – either setup a satellite feed to pipe in the preaching from the “mother church” via video, or have the new staff person handle the preaching.

“But aren’t those two separate churches?” That’s up for debate, but the churches who’ve bought into this model will tell you they aren’t. The various locations still go by the same name and are under the same elders. The material taught is usually the same, and even where the preaching isn’t piped in via satellite, the main points of sermons are usually the same as agreed upon ahead of time.

The numbers speak for themselves. Nearly all of the fastest growing churches in the United States are operating from this model. For instance, at the Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, major growth is a regular occurence. On one Sunday last year they added 2,000 new members, and regularly baptize new believers – sometimes several hundred in a single day!

Churches like Mars Hill wouldn’t be able to handle that volume of growth without utilizing a multi-site approach – it simply wouldn’t be possible.

So does the multi-site approach sound like a good idea?

Neil Cole sees good and bad. It’s good in that church growth is better than the alternative, and good in that it’s better than division. Neil thinks it’s bad in that it’s a hinderance to leadership development, and bad in that it isn’t true multiplication. According to Neil’s write-up, virtually none of the new satellite churches go on to plant additional ones.

I’ll let you read the rest yourself – check out Neil Cole’s five part series on multi-site churches:

  1. Neil Cole, The Multi-Site Church Model pt. 1
  2. Neil Cole, The Multi-Site Church Model pt. 2
  3. Neil Cole, The Multi-Site Church Model pt. 3
  4. Neil Cole, The Multi-Site Church Model pt. 4
  5. Neil Cole, The Multi-Site Church Model pt. 5

If nothing else, Neil’s opinions will make you think. They certainly made me do so.

What do you say – thumbs up, or thumbs down to the multi-site church model?

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