I just got back from speaking at the Exponential Conference. I shared the results of a LifeWay Research survey that demonstrates support for church planting is lower than I prefer, though new church starts are outpacing the closing of established churches. Lifeway Research surveyed over 1,000 Protestant pastors and found only 3 percent of their churches served as the primary sponsor of a church plant in the past year, and only 14 percent gave financial support in partnership with other churches to help start new congregations. Let that sink in for a minute. 3 percent of Protestant churches started new churches, and only 14 percent financially supported new works.
This is not encouraging news, but another study, done in cooperation with Leadership Network and published in Viral Churches, showed that in recent years more new churches have been starting than established churches have been closing annually. So, it’s not all bad news, but we have a long way to go.
I explained during my talk that for too long many churches have thought of church planting as someone else’s responsibility. It’s for certain people and churches who have a unique calling. In a practical sense this amounts to a neglect of the Apostolic model of multiplication and winds up diminishing the local church’s Kingdom impact in the world.
Most churches are not currently involved in church planting, but it does appear that there is growing activity and interest in church planting. At Exponential 2010 I encouraged churches to get involved through financially supporting, sponsoring and lending people and resources to future church plants and planters.