|From Roger Ross, MO Conference Center for Congregational Excellence Director
“Why on earth do we start new churches when so many existing ones are struggling?” Excellent question. Maybe recent history can help answer it.
Since 2008, Missouri has had 30 successful church starts which represent 3.8% of the total number of United Methodist Churches across our state.
But these new churches punch well above their weight. In 2017, these 30 churches had an average worship attendance of 4,155 people, which is 5.9% of all United Methodist worshippers in Missouri.
These 30 churches also produced 203 baptisms last year, or 8.9% of the total baptisms in Missouri, which is about 2 ½ times the average number of baptisms in our churches.
But it gets even better. In 2017, these new churches also had 498 Professions of Faith. That’s nearly 500 NEW followers of Christ last year alone! That represents 18.8% of our Conference total or nearly 5 times the average number of Professions of Faith in our churches.
That’s the power of creating new places. New people, younger people, and more diverse people show up in disproportionately higher numbers when we start something new.
Pause for a moment and drink in what those numbers mean. These are real people with real stories. Because of your prayers, your giving, and your sacrifices, lost people are being found, children are experiencing God’s love, lonely people are finding community, broken people are being healed, the poor are being served and justice is being sought for the oppressed. It’s the very mission of Jesus!
Of course, long-established churches are also involved in this holy work, and we need everyone pulling together for Christ’s sake. But let’s be real. We will never reach large numbers of de-churched people in our culture, let alone new generations of non-churched people without fresh expressions of the gospel that meet them where they are and connect them with their Savior.
To make these connections on a large scale, we’ll have to move from additional thinking to a multiplication mindset. I’ll focus on that next month.
Thanks for your daily faithfulness. This past month, we’ve had a breakthrough on our Prayer Team and a burst of interest in creating new places for new people. Your prayers are enabling these things to happen.
Praying with you for God to multiply our efforts,
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.