I recently had a friend who had just found out that I was in the throws of starting a new church, ask me, “why start a new church? aren’t there enough churches already?” It was a very valid question, after all you drive around town and you see a bunch of church buildings scattered throughout our neighborhoods and cities, one would assume that those buildings are full of people, right…? As the saying goes:
“Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open its doors and find all the people.” (Never heard this before? youtube it)
Well the statistics point us to a strikingly different conclusion. Here are a few stats I have found while looking into Church engagement in the US of A:
- There are about 196 million “non-churched” people in America making it one of the top four most unchurched nations in the world
- Every year 3,500-4,000 churches close their doors forever; yet only about 1500 churches are being started.
- The population growth here in the US of A is not shrinking we are continuing to grow at a staggering rate of around .07% a year thats about 21.8million people!
The need for the Church to reach our neighborhoods and nations is clear. So how do we move forward? How do we see the good news of Jesus penetrate peoples hearts and lives and take root through faith communities where people can discover how to follow Jesus? Before stating my personal conviction and conclusion I want to say that the obvious way is through Jesus, Jesus indwelling his sons and daughters with his presence and power and allowing our lives to be a witness to those around us that God is alive and moving in, through and despite of us (Check out the book of Acts, its still happening today).
But this story we see unfolding in the book of Acts was set up by Jesus. He gathered his team (his disciples), “ordinary, unschooled men” (Acts 4:13). He cast vision to them that he wanted them to be “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). Jesus then began to take them through a 3 year crash course in leadership, prayer, signs & wonders, theology and relationships that they often didn’t understand. Then at the end Jesus left them with the most inspirational, motivating, captivating and compelling message ever, that God loved them enough, not just to say it but to prove it through the greatest action of love, personal sacrifice. Taking on our penalty for sin by paying the price of death and then showing he was more powerful than death by defeating it and rising from the dead. Then he left them and said to wait, receive power, become his witnesses and then go everywhere you can and help people learn to follow him. And they did, and the Church began and its continuing to begin again and again.
Today “church people” call this new formation of a faith family a “church plant, small group, life group, multi-site campus, momentum, ect”. Regardless of what you want to call it this is how Jesus is still moving. He gathers the wandering, finds the lost, authors faith in the hearts of skeptics, he puts the orphaned in families, he heals the hearts of those that have been hurt by religious politics, I have seen this happening through Society Church and it has restored an awe of God that I somehow lost somewhere along the way.
The formation of new faith families is one of the most proven ways of reaching new people with the gospel. Not only does the biblical model point to this but so do dozens of studies that have revealed that the average new church gains 60-80% of its new members from people who are not attending any prior church, whereas churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. This is our motivation to partner with God as he forms this new faith family we are calling Society Church. To see those far from God come close. To see those that have wandered away, discover Him. To see those that have lost their way, find Him again.
That is why I believe we need more new “churches”. What do you think? Do we need more new faith families in Sacramento?
I think this is right on! thanks Tim for posting and keep living a life guided by The word of god and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Let the hole earth be filled with His Glory!!!
Of course, I think the question is really what kind of church does our socieity really need? More importantly what kind of christian does our communities really need?
Growing up in the sixties and seventies, and it certainly does not make me an expert, I wittnessed the evolving of an enterprise and marketing giant emerge. Im not against free enterprise but Im sure thats not what the purpose of the christian church was intended to become. So in my cynical mind anything that even remotely smells like or looks like what I was previously a huge part of (with regret) I am running as far away from as I can. Simple, consistant and genuine relationships for me are the order of the day, I love tradition and the sacraments, I practice them regularly, I love theology and how Gods spirit leads and guides and reveals Christ, so back to simple things for me. Although I do like a good debate, but I just don’t care who wins anymore. Guilt free forgiveness. In my work (ministry) I am with people who are just about to enter eternity, there is no time to fill out a form, join a class or listen to me pontifacate. “I just want to have peace of mind” my last patient softly spoke, I said “would you like to pray? I asked, “Yes” she said but “I’m a Jehovahs Witness”, thats ok, we prayed assured her of Gods love and Jesus sacrifice. “amen”, she died the next day and as I was with her family they all sobbed, when I relayed my last visit with her they burst into joy. Peace of mind, nothing like it! That what you want to leave behind.
People will go to where there is a true move of God. I am excited to be part of one (Project Church), and glad to see others. Downtown Sac is going to get noticed for some right reasons for a change.