This Is What Young Church Leaders Want to Spend Time (and Money) Doing

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Success stories and an entrepreneurial spirit among young pastors are fueling the hottest movement in evangelicalism—church planting.

The Young Leaders’ Advisory Council Report, released earlier this summer at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, found church planting is wildly popular among young pastors.

The survey of 2,378 pastors, almost three-quarters under the age of 40, found church planting ranked high when responding to the question, which initiatives provided the “highest value…and the greatest benefit to you and your church.”

The results square with the findings of researcher Warren Bird who reported 83 percent of pastors under 40 in growing churches say that part of their vision for the future is planting a church.

Dr. Jeremy Roberts, a member of the advisory council, told ChurchLeaders that among young pastors, “entrepreneurialism has never been cooler than right now”.

Dave Ferguson, the president of the Exponential Conference, told the ChurchLeaders podcast that young pastors are mimicking what they’ve seen work in the business world because “all truth is God’s truth.” Church planting, he said, “is taken from the franchising concept in business.”

Entrepreneurs, according to Roberts, have risen to the level of sports stars among Millennials. “It is cool for Millennials to start a business. It is cool for Millennial ministers to start churches.”

The Allure of Church Planting

They also like the idea of starting with a clean slate to achieve their ministry vision.

Roberts said planting a new church avoids “inherited problems” and allows young pastors to join a network of congregations with “common philosophical or methodological approaches to ministry”.  

“Many young men would rather start something from scratch than deal with the headaches,” Roberts noted.

The allure of shared vision has taken church planters out of their traditional denominational boundaries.

The Austin Church Planting Network gathers church planters from multiple denominations such as Anglican, Bible Churches, Evangelical Covenant Church, Free Methodists and Southern Baptists, just to name a few. Planters meet at Missional Hubs all over Austin, Texas, to learn best practices and to build friendships.

It’s also hard to argue with the success.  

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) reported these success stories at the SBC gathering in Dallas this past June:

  • In Minnesota-Wisconsin, 57 percent of baptisms came from church plants.
  • In New England, 34 percent of baptisms came from church plants.
  • Churches planted since 2011 have an 84 percent survival rate.
  • 34 percent of all churches in New York and 35 percent of all churches in New England were planted since 2010.
  • 50 percent of all churches in Canada were started since 2010.
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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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