A new study measured what characteristics vibrant, growing church plants share and listed 10 factors contributing to high attendance.
The study was conducted on over 1,000 churches from 12 denominations and networks by the Center for Missional Research, a division of the North American Mission Board. The following 10 common factors, based on the combined four-year mean attendance of church plants, proved to be the best predictors for higher worship attendance.
Location is one significant factor. Church plants that start in school facilities show a distinct advantage in term of visibility, parking and low costs. In the longer term, churches that meet in movie theaters also exhibit higher attendance.
Second, the ministry factor. Reaching children is one effective way to reach families, according to the report. Special children's events along with outreaches around holidays and other opportunities attract crowds and help churches sustain attendance.
A third way to build attendance is to promote the church. Church plants with high attendance have mail invitations to services, programs and events and keep community awareness high.
Training new members is also key. Successful church plants not only provide training but also communicated clearly that the new members participate and find a place to serve.
On top of training, new members are also required to sign a church covenant. The covenant is a sign that new members take their commitment to the church seriously.
Church plants with vibrant attendance are also very intentional about financial stewardship. They receive financial compensation as well as health insurance, allowing them to focus on the church's growth and not their own basic needs.
Seventh, the staff factor. Church plants that have assessed staff for their suitability and have multiple staff from the start. The most successful church plants do not start out under-staffed, the study reported. And their planters are full-time.
Successful church plants do not just focus on their own church needs. Instead, they start at least one church within three years of their own plant. The study indicated that those who are sent out to start a new church are replaced and more are even added.
In addition to focusing on missions, building leadership is crucial to church plant growth. Church plants with higher attendance conduct leadership training, build their leadership base and delegate leadership roles to church members on an ongoing basis.
Tenth, the achievement factor. Church planters have a vision of what God wants to do and remain focused on accomplishing that. Thus, they achieve greater results and find greater satisfaction, according to the study.
The Center for Missional Research noted that these 10 factors would most likely lead to both numerical and spiritual growth.
The latest study is part three in a four-part series of studies on church plants. Other studies revealed a 68 percent survivability rate among church plants after four years and an increasing number of baptisms to 14 by the fourth year.