This past week the elders of the church met with Tim Cole, Director of Church Planting for Virginia Vision. Virginia vision partnered with us in launching New Venture. We have been going through some challenging months with the staff searches, relocating to a new meeting place, losing some long time families, and struggling to make ends meet financially. All the leaders all passionate about working through the issues and turning the church around but are frustrated with lack of current progress and met with Tim to get his insight and advice. There were several encouraging and interesting discoveries that resulted from our time together. I want to share a few with you.
1. 85% of churches in America at the current time are on the decline. That is hard to believe, but an overwhelming majority of churches in America are not growing.
2. Most new churches, about the 4th 5th or 6th year, go through huge struggles and challenges. They determine what needs to be done to turn things around, make the tough decisions and emerge stronger and back on the growing track as a result.
3. By the fifth year of existence only about 20% of the original launch team of new churches is still with the new church. For a number of reasons from, fatigue, not agreeing with the direction of the church, disliking the style of music, moving out of the area, not being able to control the church or a number of other reasons they leave.
4. The average size church in America is currently 93.
As dismal and discouraging as this information might sound I found it to be quite encouraging. I hate the difficulties we have been enduring over the last several months but I find comfort in a few bright spots.
1. Hey, we’re not by ourselves when it comes to our current downturn. 85% of the other churches in America are in the boat with us.
2. It is actually normal and expected to go through the struggles, challenges and changes we are currently experiencing. Most new churches do the same thing.
3. If 20% is the average number of launch team people still have on board at the 5th anniversary, we were way above average with 45% of our launch people with us when we turned five.
4. We are above average, also, when it comes to size of churches in America.
So, even though I am not in any way pleased with our current challenges and obstacles, I do find a little encouragement when comparing our picture to the bigger picture.