Sunday, January 27, 2008

Success Factors in Fast Growing Plants

I highly recommend Steven Gray's new book Planting Fast Growing Churches. Stephen compared 60 fast growing church plants and 52 struggling church plants to try to understand the factors that enabled churches to grow larger than 200 in their first three years. Here are a few of the things that he found.

  • 88% of the fast growing churches had church planting teams
  • 63% of the fast growing churches had an initial core group of 26 or more
  • 80% put ten percent or more of their budgets toward outreach and evangelism
  • 63% of planters leading fast growing plants raise additional funding, compared to 23% of those that are struggling
  • 57% of the fast-growing church plants teach financial stewardship during the first six months from public launch; by contrast only 40% of strugling church plants teach financial stewardship.

I would encourage every church planter to study Stephen's book. I would also encourage everyone to go to and download the church planting article "Improving the Health and Survivability of New Churches."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Do You Want More Evangelistic Effectiveness?

In the recent research conducted by Leadership Network, there are certain factors that correlated with higher baptisms/conversions in new church plants. These factors do not guarantee evangelistic effectiveness, but they do help us understand something about the mindset and the behaviors of the more evangelisticly effective church plants. A few of the factors were:
  • conducting a new member class for church members
  • conducting leadership training for church members
  • engaging in ministry evangelism (e.g. food banks, shelters, drug/alcohol recovery, etc.)
  • conducting a mid-week children's program
  • conducting a block party as an outreach activity
  • starting at least one daughter church within three years of the church plant
  • having a proactive stewardship development plan enabling the church to be financially self-sufficient

I have also observed that when church planters make a focused effort to develop a "Missional Core" in the pre-launch stage, this also increases their evangelistic effectiveness. A Missional Core is different than our conventional "Launch Team" or "Start Up Team" concept. A Missional Core is a group of people who have been/are being discipled to be missionaries in the context of the church plant. I encourage every church planter to develop and mobilize a missional core to help gather and evangelize. It makes all the difference in the world.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Survivability: Indicators of Church Health

Size is a common indicator used to evaluate the health of a new church. Though size is not a complete measure of health, achieving a critical mass is essential for survivability. A surprising result of research from NAMB (Southern Baptists) shows that church plants are actually smaller than many imagined. The typical church plant does not pass 100 in attendance after 4 years.

Another indicator of new church health is evangelistic effectiveness. The number of baptisms or conversions has a strong correlation to the evangelistic effectiveness of new churches. The average number of baptisms or conversions is 10 the first year, 11 the second year, 13 the third year, and 14 the fourth year.

Many church planters envision their churches growing much larger, much faster. They also envision their churches having a greater evangelistic impact. This is possible with good training and good coaching.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Making Church Plants Thrive in 2008

A few months ago I had the privilege of compiling research conducted by Ed Stetzer and publishing it in a series of articles for Leadership Network. These articles grew out of the exhaustive research that Ed did last year on the state of church planting in the U.S. Ed's research was outstanding (as usual). These 4 articles are available for download at or you can contact me directly at

One of the articles had to do with Health and Survivability of New Churches. Ed's research combined with Stephen Gray's new book Planting Fast Growing Churches gives us some great insight on how to make church plants thrive in 2008. Over the next few weeks that is what I want to write about.

To help us start thinking this week, here are a few of the findings:
  • The chances of survivability increases by over 400% when the church planter has a "realistic" understanding and expectation of the church-planting experience.
  • The odds of survivability increase by over 250% where leadership development training is offered in the plant.
  • The odds of survivability increase by 178% when there is a proactive stewardship development plan within the church plant.

These are just a few of the things we have learned this past year and are incorporating into our training and coaching systems at NCI. Stay tuned for more!