Today we focus on church planting and concern for the poor—eight observations on each subject. Let’s begin with observations that relate to church planting.1 Remember, by church planting, we mean starting new churches that are not part of Bethlehem. They share the same Elder Affirmation of Faith for the leaders, but organizationally, they are separate churches, not campuses.
Observations on Church Planting
1. There are 195 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the top four largest “unchurched” nations in the world.
2. In spite of the rise of mega-churches, no county in America has a greater church population than it did ten years ago.
3. During the last ten years, combined communicant membership of all Protestant denominations declined by 9.5 percent (4,498,242), while the national population increased by 11.4 percent (24,153,000).
4. Each year 3,500 to 4,000 churches close their doors forever; yet only as many as 1,500 new churches are started.
5. There are now nearly 60 percent fewer churches per 10,000 persons than in 1920.
- In 1920 27 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 1950 17 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 1996 11 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
6. “Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, four out of five are either plateaued or declining.”
7. One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.
8. Hence the claim of many leaders: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” (Peter Wagner).
Observations on World Poverty
Then consider eight observations about world poverty.2
1. More than 1.5 billion people around the world live on less than a $1 a day.
2. More than one billion people do not have access to clean water.
3. Every year six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday.
4. More than 50 percent of Africans suffer from water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.
5. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day, 300 million are children.
6. Of these 300 million children, only eight percent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than 90 percent are suffering long-term malnourishment and micronutrient deficiency.
7. Declining soil fertility, land degradation, and the AIDS pandemic have led to a 23 percent decrease in food production per capita in the last 25 years even though population has increased dramatically.
8. A woman living in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy. This compares with a 1 in 3,700 risk for a woman from North America.These are issues—church planting and concern for the poor—that those who follow Jesus should not ignore. Yet they are amazingly easy to ignore in America.
Church Planting and the Poor
From John Piper:
Posted by Matt