Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York was ranked the number one multiplying church in America.
Based on a survey sponsored by Leadership Network, Outreach Magazine's 2007 list of "America's Top 25 Multiplying Churches" placed Redeemer on top, Mars Hill Church in Seattle second and NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, third. All three churches have planted a total of 100 churches since their founding.
Since its founding in 1989, Redeemer has swelled to 4,800 worship attendants each week and apportions 15 percent of its budget to church plants. Its pastor, the Rev. Timothy J. Keller, is sought after by pastors around the world who want to pick up on strategies of creating effective churches in cosmopolitan cities like New York and engaging an urban and diverse culture.
Redeemer's Church Planting Center, established in 2000, has helped start more than 50 churches of various faith traditions and denominations in New York along with 17 Presbyterian churches.
"Among churches today, the conversation – a long overdue one - is moving from church growth to Kingdom growth," wrote Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, in Outreach Magazine's July/August 2007 issue.
NorthWood's pastor Bob Roberts, author of 2008 release The Multiplying Church, annually trains more than a dozen potential planters and their spouses at the church's own Multiplication Center – a nine-month intensive internship. The church aims for half of the internships to be non-Anglo planters who plan to multiply inside or outside North America to ensure reach into diverse communities worldwide.
"These churches ... are discovering that multiplication is better than addition, and exponential growth is more effective than self-expansion," wrote Stetzer.
Research has found that intentional church planting doesn't automatically prevent a church from experiencing sizable growth, according to Stetzer.
Kensington Community Church in Troy, Mich., which ranked number nine in the top multiplying churches list, has planted 20 churches since 1990 and gives 15 percent of its annual budget to church planting. At the same time, average weekly attendance is at 8,500 - a 52 percent growth over the past five years.
West Ridge Church in Dallas, Ga., (No. 16) experienced a 300 percent increase in attendance over the past five years despite the fact that they have planted seven churches in that same time period.
And churches and denominations are finding that it's almost always better for the health of new church plants to come from involved mother churches rather than from denominational leadership, Stetzer noted.
"Although many of the churches on our list are unapologetically denominational, they consider church planting a local church function and make it a priority," he stated.
Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Fla., (No. 5) sponsored the start of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (No. 1), Mars Hill Church (No. 2) and CrossPointe Church in Orlando, Fla. (No. 21). It co-founded the non-denominational Acts 29 Network which Mars Hill uses as its primary church-planting ministry, according to Stetzer.
"To keep the ball rolling, we now mandate through our Church Planter's Covenant that the church planter will build a church that has church planting in its DNA," said Spanish River Pastor David Nicholas.
The top 25 list was compiled by ranking the top 40 respondents using such self-reported criteria as the total number of church plants, the average number of churches planted each year, the percentage of budget dedicated to church planting, and the number of daughter churches that have planted a new church.