A report released by the Southern Baptist Commission this week suggests that the country's largest denomination outside of the Roman Catholic Church is struggling to bring in new members from the Millennials and younger age group demographic.
According to the Pastors' Task Force on SBC Evangelistic Impact & Declining Baptisms, 25 percent of Southern Baptist churches baptized no new members in 2012, while 60 percent reported no baptisms for youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Also indicative of the denomination's struggle to attract Millennials were the 80 percent of churches which reported baptizing one or zero adults between 18 and 29.
Ed Stetzer, the President of the Southern Baptist-linked Lifeway Research, who worked on the team headed by Al Gilbert, the Vice President of Evangelism at the North American Mission Board which created the report, suggested the denomination had not focused enough on intentionally reaching non-Christians. more >>
Church planting has become the "coolest" trend in church work in recent decades, according to Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, who says that alone should not be a reason to plant a church.
"One terrible reason to plant a church is because it's the trendiest, hippest, coolest thing going on in church work today. I have seen a share of young, energized leaders who felt peer pressure to demonstrate their love for God by getting their board shorts, and surfing the church plating wave only to wash up three years later, bloodied and disillusioned by the whole experience," said Hybels.
Hybles, who spoke at the Exponential East Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, addressed the crowd of thousands pf people who are current church leaders and some who hope to become church planters. His message was upfront and frank as he delved into four reasons why individuals should and should not plant churches. more >>
Acts 29, an international organization of church planters, has expanded its resources to urban leaders who seek to start a church within their communities, said president and pastor Matt Chandler during the Exponential East conference Thursday.
Church planters generally become a part of the organization's residency program where they are prepared to plant a gospel-centered, church planting church. However, the program for urban leaders differs in that they receive theological and character development training as well as functional tools to begin their own churches.
"What we've really invested in is our Thriving Residencies for urban planters, specifically African American and Latinos. We just spotted this reality that these guys oftentimes come to Anglo suburban churches for their residencies but then they're completely out of the context in which they'll actually minister," Chandler said during the conference's live webcast. more >>
A gentleman's club in Ontario, Canada, opened its doors on Sunday to allow a church to gather. The couple leading the church says it is an attempt to attract those who would feel uncomfortable in a traditional church setting.
Jack and Sharon Ninaber, who are part of the Elora Road Christian Fellowship, held their first church service at The Manor gentlemen's club in Guelph over Easter weekend. Sharon, Jack's wife, told the local CTV television station that when she originally suggested the couple begin holding church services at the strip club, she was joking.
After discussing the idea further, however, the couple decided the unorthodox services would be a creative way to reach those who would shy away from a traditional church setting. They are specifically hoping to attract residents from Sue's Inn, a nearby transitional house for the homeless and the addicted. more >>
Right now there are over 300,000 Protestant churches in America. Just do the division (300,000 divided by 50 states) and that equals 6,000 churches per state. Wow! That's a lot of churches!
Think about it this way: there are just over 10,000 Starbucks and well over 300,000 churches! So Starbucks can saturate the United States with caffeinated drinks but almost 30x's more churches can't saturate the United States with the Living Water. Seriously???
According to church growth and discipleship multiplication expert Bill Hull, "It still takes 100 church attendees, a pastor and 100,000.00 a year to win a convert. Among evangelicals it is a bit better, 1.7, this is an ugly fact that should grieve us all." more >>
About 800 to 1,000 Southern Baptist congregations cease to exist annually, largely due to a stagnant vision among the leadership and lack of impact within their communities, says a church planting director. However, church leaders say the closures are often the symptom of a greater problem.
"Churches are closing in large part because they have either become disconnected from culture and, or disconnected from Scripture. When this happens, life leaves the church," Joshua Hedger, director of Center for Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, told The Christian Post.
Although the Baptist convention opened 1,300 new churches last year, Hedger says they are not gaining enough new ground and will rely on church planters to create a movement that will hopefully put an end to dying congregations. The church revitalization process usually involves new leadership taking over a declining church, who then implements a strategy on how to grow the congregation again. more >>