MULTIPLICATION & The 5 Levels of Churches Explained & the Percentage of Churches in Each Level. #NewResearch #Exponential

by Thom Rainer, LifeWay, 3/6/19.

In addition to the categorization of churches as

  • declining/subtracting (Level 1),
  • plateauing (Level 2), and
  • growing/adding (Level 3),
  • the study looked at two other supplemental categories.
    • A Level 4 (reproducing) church places a high value and priority on starting new churches.
    • A level 5 (multiplying) church takes church planting to multiple generations of congregations.

    … Here are some of the fascinating findings:

    1. 70% of churches are
    2. subtracting/declining or plateauing. Only 30% are adding/growing based on Exponential’s categorization of churches which is defined above. This data is largely consistent with other research we have done. The period covered is three years.
    3. There are relatively few reproducing churches. The research categorized only 7% of the churches as reproducing (Level 4). The numbers of churches considered multiplying (Level 5: multiple generations of church plants) was 0% in the sample, indicating a negligible number in the total U. S. church population.
    4. The majority of Protestant churches had less than 10 people commit to Jesus Christ as Savior in the past 12 months. That’s fewer than one person per month. That’s not good. That’s not good at all.
    5. Smaller churches are at severe risk.Among those churches with an average worship attendance under 50, only 20% are growing. That is the lowest of any of the categories of churches and is an indicator that these churches are at the greatest risk of dying.
    6. Larger churches have a much lower risk of dying. Among the churches with an average worship attendance of 250 and more, 42% are growing. That is, by far, the largest number of growing churches in any category.

    Read more at… https://thomrainer.com/2019/03/major-new-research-on-declining-plateaued-and-growing-churches-from-exponential-and-lifeway-research/

    MULTIPLICATION & Instead of planting an independent new church, what about planting a new venue instead? Pros & cons considered.

    by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/19/17.

    A student once asked, “I am picturing a situation where a large church wants to plant an (independent) daughter church because they have a growing sub-congregation in the church that is mostly Hispanic, or Gen Y.  Is that a better way to help them, by launching them as an independent church plant?  Or can we help them better by offering to share the church with them as a venue or sub-congregation in the mother church?”

    I replied …

    What we often do when we launch a typical church “plant” is to create an “external” sub-congregation.  And, this is okay. But, I think it is usually not the best way to proceed.  Rather, the “internal planting” of a sub-congregation (fostering the growth of a sub-congregation that remains part of the church) is a better strategy.

    This is because external plants have the following PLUSES (strengths) and NEGATIVES (weaknesses):

    Short/long-term growth?

    Pluses: External plants (in my consulting practice) grow quicker than Internal Plants (developing a sub-congregation and a venue), because they are homogeneous (i.e. largely attracting one culture).

    Negatives: External plants (in my consulting practice) die quicker. They are smaller and often don’t reach critical mass for long-term sustainability.

    Leadership?

    Pluses: External plants have experienced leadership, because the leader has been trained in the mother church.

    Negatives: External plants often lack good accountability and thus succumb to leadership/ethical weaknesses.

    Attraction?

    Pluses: External plants attract people who do not have a church home and/or who are dissatisfied with the church they attend.

    Negatives: External plants often attract disgruntled people:

    1. Who don’t like the church they attend
    2. And/ or who do not want to rub shoulders with another culture (generational, ethnic, affinity, etc.). Thus, reconciliation does not take place.

    More churches?

    Pluses: External plants create more churches, though they may be smaller and not healthy for many years.

    Negatives: External plants often kill existing churches, when the people who are attracted to the external plant leave the mother church, and other churches, weakening the churches they left.  This is the main reason pastors of established churches don’t like external plants, it cannibalizes the people they need to survive.

    Diversity?

    Pluses: External plants cater to a specific cultural market.  This creates a like-minded community that grows because of the things it holds in common.

    Negatives: External plants don’t promote inter-cultural understanding.  This would be like the second-generation Koreans wanting their own church. The first-generation Koreans would feel abandoned and disconnected. And the externally planted 2nd-gen congregation might develop distain (due to distance) for the 1st-gen culture.

    This illustration highlights the differences between first and second generational cultures.  But it happens in even a more damaging fashion between ethnic cultures.

    The result of a good work, like church planting, can be that the cultures are distance organizationally and physically from one another by the planting of a separate congregation.

    But it often makes the mother church feel good, because it can say, “We planted another church.” But in reality they often push them away because of their differences.  This creates distance between them and us. In my consulting work, no matter how much churches protest they … “Will stay connected to our daughter church,” they never stay as close as they would if they were sharing the church as fellow sub-congregations.

    Thus, if a church is really committed to reconciliation and multi-culturalism (as I am) then Internal Planting is the better choice. Thus, with Internal Planting the church becomes in a community the main avenue for building multi-cultural understanding and tolerance, e.g. unity building and changing biases.

    A name for this type of church is The Multicultural Alliance Model.

    See all five models here: MULTICULTURAL CHURCHES & 5 Models: A New Paradigm Evaluated and Differentiated #AICR #AcademyForInterculturalChurchResearch

    NEED-MEETING & 5 ways to determine community needs

    by Michael Fries, LifeWay, 4/16/18.

    … We’re partnering with a local church to plant an autonomous congregation in our city, and we’re also planting additional campuses of our own church. In doing so, we’ve had to develop ways to pinpoint where to plant in our city.

    1. KNOW THE SOCIAL MAKEUP OF YOUR COMMUNITY.

    Learning about your community is simple. While it’s possible to spend a fair amount of money for detailed demographic reports, you can also learn valuable information while spending next to nothing.

    Begin with the U.S. Census Bureau website. Use its free tools to identify what is happening in the immediate areas around your church and in the larger area that makes up your community.

    2. KNOW THE RELIGIOUS MAKEUP OF YOUR COMMUNITY.

    TheARDA.com is a useful tool that allows you to research the religious affiliation of your area based on city name, zip code and other search parameters.

    3. MAP THE MEMBERS OF YOUR CHURCH.

    Missiologist Keelan Cook has made mapping a fairly simple process. His mapping tool uses Google Maps to let you quickly identify the geographic makeup of your congregation. You can access his tool at bit.ly/keelancook.

    Once you have uploaded your membership database into the tool, it will produce a digital map that will allow you to identify your members’ areas of concentration.

    4. MAP THE CHURCHES IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

    It may require a bit more time to accomplish this task, as you will need to enter the addresses of every local church into a database. Then you can upload them into the tool mentioned above and produce a digital map pinpointing every church in your community.

    Too often churches overlook this step. They simply look to identify pockets of need without carefully considering who else might already be working in those areas.

    5. IDENTIFY GROWTH AREAS.

    The final step is setting priorities based on growth projections.

    Population movement is significant in evaluating the need for a church plant. Expanding areas need more churches, and congregations in those areas have greater potential to grow.

    If migration patterns and growth areas are not easy to identify, this information can often be found by contacting your city manager or chamber of commerce.

    These steps will help you develop a database of target areas and a methodology of church planting. But the value of studying your community goes beyond knowing where you should plant a church and what kind of church to plant.

    Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/04/16/church-planting-blueprint-5-ways-to-determine-the-needs-of-your-community/

    MULTIPLICATION & Not 1 homogeneous unit but rather a heterogeneous organization w/ many indigenous cultural channels to communicate the Good News & through which to celebrate it.

    “A key to respecting indigenous art forms is to connect the Good News via the most appropriate communication modality for the people we are reaching…

    Biblically speaking, it thus seems best to see a worship gathering as a time of indigenous artistic expressions that draw people from an indigenous background into connection with God. This would suggest the more worship services we can offer, the more opportunities we can offer for people to connect with God.

    by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/8/18.

    I found that all church organizations, regardless of size, grow the quickest by multiplying their sub-congregations. So in other words, they see themselves not as one homogeneous unit but rather as a heterogeneous organization with many indigenous cultural channels to communicate the Good News and through which to celebrate it.

    For example, a multiple sub-congregational model blooms when even a small church  adds a youth program. The youth program has its own leader, it’s own style, its own music and its own outreach. It is a sub-congregation, of a different culture. Then, as the church grows over 100 attendees it can often begin to reach out to a different culture  by offering a different service with a slightly modified culturally aesthetic.

    Of course working against this is the concept that people want to be united. And when they say that, they usually mean they want to be united in the worship gathering. However the Hebrew word for worship means to come close to God as if to kiss His feet. It doesn’t mean fellowship.

    So biblically speaking, it seems best to see a worship gathering as a time of indigenous artistic expressions that draw people from an indigenous background into connection with God. This would suggest the more worship services we can offer, the more opportunities we can offer for people to connect with God.

    If we want to call them “fellowship services” instead of worship services, then we could see unity as an objective. But it’s hard to create unity in a sanctuary.

    One young lady I interviewed for a book said it was hard to create fellowship in the sanctuary because, “The seats all face the wrong direction.”

    So therefore, I see “sub-congregation multiplication” as a key to respecting indigenous art forms and to connecting the Good News via the most appropriate communication modality for the people we are reaching.

    I’ve expanded upon some of the research in this area in an interview by LifeWay. Here is the link to that article: https://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/29/when-big-goes-small-how-large-churches-are-learning-from-those-with-less/#.VxDLWcj3aJJ hey sweetie how you doing

    MULTIPLICATION & Church has no walls but many doors, accessible to seekers and skeptics

    by Leadership & Faith Editorial Board, Duke University, 1/31/18.

    …Mraz went to Taco Church, where a small group of men gathered for breakfast, Bible study, jokes and prayer. The group, started by an Episcopal priest and a few guys from his gym, shared vulnerability in a way that Mraz had rarely seen. Sometimes he had to step outside the fast-food restaurant to cry.

    The priest, the Rev. Sean Steele, told Mraz that Taco Church was part of the newly launched St. Isidore Episcopal, a “church without walls” focused on small group discipleship and community service. The church didn’t have a building, and it didn’t want one, Steele said. Instead, it had a cellphone app, linking members to the church’s many parts.

    As Steele explained, St. Isidore was one church embodied in many different ways. It wasn’t just Taco Church. It would eventually become three house churches, a pub theology group, a free laundry ministry, a food truck and more. It was all quite unorthodox, except the liturgy and theology, which were decidedly Episcopalian.

    The Rev. Sean Steele leads Ash Wednesday services for commuters in a Houston suburb.

    … This Easter, a little over a year after his first Taco Church, Mraz and his 6-year-old son were baptized in a service he helped organize as a member of the St. Isidore leadership team.

    Finding new possibilities

    As many mainline Protestant churches shrink and shutter across the United States, St. Isidore is finding new possibilities by marrying a denomination’s traditions with a decentralized structure drawn from the emergent-church playbook. It’s a mission church and “research and development” effort launched by Trinity Episcopal Church, a 1,500-member parish in The Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston.

    “I am not trying to do something old in a new way; I am trying to do something brand-new in the old way,” said Steele, the entrepreneurial 38-year-old priest behind the experiment. “Many [church planters] feel they need to jettison the tradition. I actually think we need to be more church, not less.”

    Steele holds tightly to Episcopal liturgy even as he brings it into novel settings such as breweries and laundromats. St. Isidore is aimed not just at unorthodox places, he said, but also at unorthodox people, like the formerly Daoist chicken farmer who now runs the pub theology group.

    “I’m trying to think about the people who aren’t going to a church on a Sunday morning,” Steele said. “I’m not interested in getting Christians that are already Christian.”

    St. Isidore (link is external) is a church with many entry points, many thresholds that even seekers and skeptics can easily cross, Steele said. St. Isidore is the patron saint of the internet (link is external) — part of the glue that holds Steele’s church together — and, as Steele likes to joke, the saint’s name conveys what the church is about: “It … is a door.”

    What are the thresholds to your church? How can they be made easier to cross?

    The Rev. Gerry Sevick, the rector at Trinity (link is external), hired Steele straight out of seminary in 2012 with the understanding that he would eventually plant a new church or start a missional community.

    “There’s a population out there hungry for spirituality and hungry for a community of faith,” Sevick said. “While they’re skeptical about a traditional church, they are willing to explore an alternative way of being church.”

    Read more at … https://www.faithandleadership.com/church-has-no-walls-many-doors-accessible-seekers-and-skeptics?utm_source=NI_newsletter&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=NI_feature

    LEAD 558 multiplication

    CHURCH PLANTING & Why the “Lean Start-up Movement” changes everything #video

    Harvard Business Review, 1/16/18: “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything”

    New ventures are searching for a business model, not executing one. Download a customizable version of this video slide deck here or watch here:

    For more, read “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything.”

    MULTIPLICATION & 5 Ways Too Much Money Can Rot Your Church Plant

    Commentary by Professor B: As I research/write a new course on “church multiplication and growth,” I am encouraging students to think of creative new ways to fund church planting. Having planted a church myself, as well as having written/coached many church plants, I believe the usual funding model is inadequate and forces church plants to be less contextualized. In the past 25+ years, I have seen that reliance upon external funding and external contexts often rob a church plant of its contextual intelligence.

    Here’s an article published by Missio Alliance about this problem. I will be using this article in my new course to encourage students to design innovative ways to address it.

    “The Big Problem with Barna’s Study on Church Startups and Money”

    by Jared Siebert, Missio Alliance, 5/9/16.

    … 5 Ways Too Much Money Can Rot Your Church Plant

    Planters and denominational folk, please pay attention.

    1) Excessive external funding can kill a church’s feel for context.

    … Church plant structures and expectations need to be tied to context. Intimately. The best kind of church planting is committing long term to a specific location among a specific people group. We’re at our best when we tie our fate to people and place. It worked for Jesus and it will work for His church. Your life, your practices, and even your finances all need to be shaped by context. This is fundamental to incarnating the gospel.

    Too much external funding interferes with this process. Tuning your communal lives to your context takes feel. It takes tension. To do it right your church will need to live somewhere between what the people want and what the people can afford.

    2) Excessive external funding robs us of creativity.

    You’ve heard that necessity is the mother of invention? Excessive external funding robs us of necessity. Without the tension created by necessity you won’t be as likely to actively seek out novel contextual solutions. Forcing your church, as much as possible – to be here in this place with these people – creates irreplaceable fuel for your church’s imagination.

    This lack of invention doesn’t just affect the local church either. It spreads to the broader church too. One of the great gifts that planting gives the broader church is inventiveness. Less local innovation means less denominational innovation. Calling us to double down on the same old models should be a sure sign that we have a growing imagination deficit. More money won’t fix that.

    3) Excessive external funding robs your church of its survival instincts.

    The will to survive properly resides within the plant itself. Denominational coffers should never house your church’s survival instincts. Instead, the will to survive should come from a deep collective sense of God’s calling, love for each other, and your deep burden for the needs of your context. Your survival instincts have to be built together piece by piece over time. Too much outside financial support messes with this process. It can also make people outside your church the owners of your church. Not good.

    4) Excessive external funding can mess with your sense of calling.

    Planters would also do well to check their own motivations for church planting. The kind of planting work we have ahead of us will not be for the faint of heart. Reaching the hard to reach peoples in North American culture is going to take time. The harder to reach the more fruitless years you may have ahead of you. Are you ready to put in 15+ years with next to nothing to show for it? That’s not an uncommon missionary reality. Google it. It may soon be our reality too.

    Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/the-big-problem-with-barnas-study-on-church-startups-and-money/

    And for even more about this problem (and some solutions with examples), check out the Abingdon Press book, Growth by accident, Death by planning: How not to kill a growing congregation. Three of the above five missteps with external funding mentioned by Siebert are addressed with solutions in my book.