It is not uncommon to hear people complain at the news of a church plant. “We don’t need new churches,” they say. But David T. Olson argues the opposite. In his book
The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches the author points out that only 17.5% of Americans attend church regularly and that percent is precipitously dropping.
The population of America has increased by 100 million people since 1970, an increase of 50%, and the church is losing ground. About 4,000 churches are planted each year even while about 3600 close. That is a gain of about 400 churches. However, to keep up with the population growth Olson contends that we need to gain about 4,000 churches per year, an increase of 10 fold.
Truly, the North American church is in crisis and vigorous, sustained church planting efforts are the solution. In the words of Tim Keller, “The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes–will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.”