“Do we really need more churches?”
This retort came from the man who was cutting my hair – right after I had finished explaining our family’s plans for planting Autumn Ridge Community Church in Ellijay, GA. Not wanting to say or do anything that might result in an “accidental” high-and-tight, I held my peace and bit my tongue.
Besides, the question is a fair one. Isn’t the United States of America a “Christian” nation? Isn’t the slogan, “In God We Trust,” engraved on our national currency? When walking city streets or driving country highways, aren’t there plenty of church buildings dotting the landscape already? And aren’t there enough dying churches which we should first revitalize before we start planting new ones?
Do we really need new churches to be planted?
The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” Consider the following realities:
- Our nation will soon be marked by one of the largest generational mission fields in history. Thom Rainer reports that of Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – only 15% identify as Christians. Of nearly 80 million American Millennials, at least 70 million do not believe the gospel.
- It has been reported that less than 20% of Americans participate in the life of an orthodox Christian church during any given week. Combining current population growth projections with the research cited by Tim Keller in Center Church, America needs more than 3,000 orthodox churches need to be planted each year simply to maintain that current 20% “slice of the pie.”
- There is evangelistic hope to be found in church planting. To cite Keller once more – while churches 10-15 years old attribute 80% or more of their growth to Christians transferring from one church to another, between one-third and two-thirds of the growth of new churches can be attributed to those who were not previously attending any worshipping body. In other words, new churches are evangelized into existence!
In short, the hopes of evangelizing our nation (and the world) rest largely in the vigorous planting of new, healthy, reproducing churches.
So yes – we do need more churches. Lord, grant that thousands more would be planted in our generation (Matthew 9:37-38).