LifeWay Research and NewChurches.com have released The State of Church Planting in the U.S., the largest and most comprehensive report on American church plants since 2007. The study looks at several of the most crucial factors that contribute to the success and longevity of U.S. church plants, including public presence, outreach strategies, financial self-sufficiency and commitment to multiplication.
Overall, the researchers found that church planting is becoming an increasingly prominent focus for Christian leaders.
“We learned that many church plants are effectively reaching the lost. More attention and resources are getting funneled towards church planting,” the report says. “Church planting is also no longer located on the fringe of church life, but is now an anticipated and even preferred destination for leaders.”
While commitment to church planting has increased, there is still a need for strategic church planting that targets particular regions and demographics. For example, 43 percent of new churches surveyed were located in the South, the most church saturated region the U.S., while just 11 percent of surveyed church plants were in the Northeast, the most unchurched region in the U.S. In addition, while second-generation immigrants make up 13 percent of the population, only 4 percent of surveyed church plants had a majority of second-generation immigrants.
When it comes to attendance, church plants that work to maintain a public presence are more likely to see growth. Churches that meet in school facilities in their first year have, on average, 42 percent more attendees than churches that meet elsewhere. By year four, that number is close to 50 percent. Churches that use mailers as one of their top three forms of publicity have between 33 and 36 percent more attendees in their first four years than churches that don’t.
There are several other factors that positively correlated with attendance growth in the study, including planting a daughter church within three years, providing adequate compensation for the pastor or planter, and holding new membership classes.
To read the full report and to access free webinars, podcasts, curriculum and other resources for church planters, go to NewChurches.com.