CONSIDER THE PICTURE OF FRUIT
Churches are intended to produce fruit. Churches produce fruit in the individual lives of its people. Moreover, churches produce fruit as a corporate body. Consider this question:
What is the end result of a church’s fruit? The fruit of a tree helps clarify the picture. The fruit of an apple tree is enjoyable. The fruit nourishes those who eat it. The fruit is a benefit to people. However, there is more to fruit. The purpose of an apple is to reproduce the tree that bore it. In the same way, healthy churches reproduce themselves in other areas of the world as they expand the Kingdom of God. Consider the following.
In Town-A, all the churches are over 15 years old. The number of active Christian churchgoers in that town will be shrinking, even if four or five of the churches get very “hot” and double in attendance.
In Town-B, five of the churches are under 15 years of age, and they, along with several older congregations, are winning new people to Christ, but this only offsets the normal declines of the older churches. Thus, the overall number remains constant.
In Town-C, 30 of the churches are under 15 years of age. In this town, the overall number of active church-goers will be on a path to grow 50% in a generation.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- There are about 200 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the four largest “unchurched” nations in the world.
- One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.”
- Roughly 3,500 churches die and close each year in America.
- There are only enough church plants to keep up with 1/8 of the U.S. population growth.
- Nationally, the population grew 13.2% between 1990 and 2000, but new churches were only planted at a 5% rate.
- In proportion to population, there are less than half as many churches in the U.S. today as there were in 1900.
According to a recent survey of church denominations, “All denominations surveyed placed church planting as a very important, if not the number one, strategy for evangelism…. The fact is, starting a new ethnic congregation or focusing on a particular generation in a new start is much easier than trying to change the culture of an established congregation.”