The State of North American Church Planting Over the last five years church planting has become mainstream in North America....…
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Over the last five years church planting has become mainstream in North America. If you search “church planting” on Google you’ll get 556,000 results. There are more resources and training programs than ever before and it’s making a positive difference. In 2007 Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird debunked the widely quoted statistic that “80% of church plants fail”. They found that after four years 67% of church plants in North America remain viable. That’s tremendous progress.
But if you dig a little deeper the statistics are less encouraging. Stetzer reports that “the typical church plant does not pass 100 in attendance after 4 years”. We have to be careful when we count numbers because it’s possible to count the wrong ones; heaven rejoices over disciples not attenders. But this statistic is concerning because disciples would certainly be present at worship gatherings. Which means that the average church plant isn’t yet multiplying disciples in a way that will penetrate lostness in its community. In summarizing the research we can say that more plants are surviving but few are thriving. After all their research Stetzer and Bird presented 4 Keys to Church Plant survivability and leadership was at the core of each one.
Both research and personal experience affirm that almost everything rises and falls on leadership. So for the last few years we‘ve poured time and energy into our Development Pipeline. Utilizing principles outlined by Ram Charan in The Leadership Pipeline we’ve created a development process designed to take a man from small group leader to church planter. The culmination of that process is our Church Planting Residency.
Each year we accept 3-5 men into our Church Planting Residency. In it we help men of high character and effectiveness hone their leadership and gather the resources necessary to plant a church (knowledge, people, prayer, finances). By the grace of God our training is producing fruit: last year Summit Network churches grew 32% and baptized 317 people. We develop many of our residents internally through our Development Pipeline but we also accept leaders from outside of our pipeline. So if you’re a leader of high character with a history of effectiveness in ministry we’d love to talk with you about our residency. You can find more details and let us know you’re interested HERE.
 Stetzer & Warren, The State of Church Planting In The United States, p. 8
Josh Miller (@joshmiller0604) is a church planting catalyst with Summit Network and a church planting pastor at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.