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4 Reasons Why Some Churches Flourish and Others Close


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New churches are more effective than existing ones in attracting people who have no church home, according to new LifeWay Research study.

In fact, about 42 percent of those worshipping at churches launched since 2008 previously never attended church or hadn't attended in many years, the study found.

The LifeWay 2015 National Church Planting Study analyzed 843 such churches from 17 denominations and church planting networks.

The research shows that successful church launches have four things in common.

1. Meeting in a public space. New churches that meet in schools have significantly higher worship attendance, report more first-time commitments to Christ, and are more likely to become financially self-sufficient than other church plants.

2. Focusing on outreach. New churches offering sports leagues, social gatherings, and children's special events are significantly more likely to attract previously unchurched people than other startups.

3.Supporting their leaders. Adequate compensation and health insurance for the church planter are linked to higher worship attendance and a greater likelihood of financial independence for the new church.

4. Starting more churches. New churches that invest in church planting and launch at least one additional new church in their first five years report higher worship attendance and more new commitments to Christ.

"Healthy new churches have an outward focus from day one, communicating every month that the goal is to be a multiplying church," LifeWay executive director Ed Stetzer said.

New churches are opening faster than old churches are closing. More than 4,000 Protestant churches opened their doors in the United States in 2014, while approximately 3,700 closed.

Stetzer said this doesn't mean existing churches are doomed, just that they have more to learn.

"An existing church can take notice and ask, 'Hey, are we doing those things? Are we making sure people in the community know we exist? Are we inviting people to come and making them feel welcome and all those things a church plant does?'" he explained.

Additional reports from the study is available at


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