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View Parenting Churches Study

Studies Show Parenting Churches Are Healthier and Grow Faster

Dr. Larry L. Sherman

1. Natural Church Development
According to a 2001 international study by Natural Church Development done by Jonathan Haley and Christoph Schalk, they find that after 5 years:

-  All Churches who don’t parent gain 16 new members per 100
-  All Churches who parent gain 28 new members per 100
-  Healthy Churches who parent gain 64 new members per 100
      o   Church health is determined by the 8 Health Indicators of Natural Church Development.  A survey of the church generates a health ‘report card’ for your Church Profile.  Churches that score over 50 on a 100 point-scale are above average.
      o   The 8 Health Indicators are:
          •  Empowering Leadership
          •  Gift-oriented Ministry
          •  Passionate Spirituality
          •  Functional Structures
          •  Inspiring Worship Services
          •  Holistic Small Groups
          •  Need-oriented Evangelism
          •  Loving Relationships

2. Southern Baptists
According to a doctoral study by Jeffrey Farmer (“The Effect of Sponsoring a Church Plant on the Sponsor Church”), churches that sponsor new churches see significant growth for five years after sponsoring the new church.  He studied 160 churches through-out the US who sponsored a new church in 1997.  He looked at their growth for the 5 years prior to planting, for 1997, and for the 5 years following the church plant.  He found that for the five years after, there was greater growth in 3 crucial areas:

-  worship attendance – 24% increase
-  adult baptisms – 14% increase
-  Sunday school attendance – increase of 6%

Farmer has some important quotes:
-  “When a church has not seen recent growth, it may be a signal that it is time to prune – by planting a daughter church.  Such a move is likely to stimulate the church to new heights by breaking in on established relationships and patterns in a positive way.  Growth will be spurred again by the recent memories of how the sanctuary used to be full.  Everyone will know that these pews are now empty because the church selflessly gave people to the daughter church.  A holy dissatisfaction will engender enthusiasm to fill those places once again.  The new-found momentum may take the mother church to the next plateau that previously seemed out of reach.”  Dean Merrill, “Mothering a New Church,” Leadership, Winter, 1985, p. 103

-  “The Dead Sea is dead because it’s not flowing into anything.  Species die because they don’t reproduce.  Seeds rot if they’re not planted.  Churches and districts die if there is no new life.”  Kevin Monnoia, “Church Planting The Next Generation,” Light and Life Press, 1994, p. 18.

-  “In any given geographical area, the Christian community will grow or decline according to the degree of effort given to planting new churches.”  C. Peter Wagner, “Church Planting for A Greater Harvest,”  Regal, 1990, p. 12.

3. Demographic Studies Show the Need for New Churches
- Dave Olson, Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church,  has done the most thorough research on percentage of church attendance in America and the data is available on his web-site at By compiling data from denominations on nearly half the churches in the US, he finds that those attending church on any given Sunday in America is now approximately 17%.  This percentage is slipping.  His data differs from the phone surveys used by George Barna and George Gallop in that his data is based on actual reported numbers from nearly 150,000 churches, while Barna and Gallop survey a random-sample of a few thousand people and project from these. 

- George Barna reports that the number of unchurched adults has nearly doubled since 1991 (see his article on from May 4, 2004).  He also reports that there are 13,000,000 unchurched people who are born-again.  They have not given up on Christ so much as they have given-up on the church.  The unchurched are “wholly disinterested in church life…  Stirring worship music won’t attract them… Church events cannot effectively compete with what the world has to offer.  The only thing the church can provide that no one else has is a life-changing, practical encounter – and on-going relationship – with the living God and with people transformed by similar encounters.”

- Barna goes on to state that the churches should “reinvent their core spiritual practices who holding tightly to their core spiritual beliefs.  It will take radically new settings and experiences to effectively introduce unchurched individuals to biblical principles and practices.”

Category:Parenting - Churches Planting Churches