Support, Experience and Intentionality

In March 2016 Lifeway Research completed its first study into church planting in Australia. Supprt, Experience and Intentionality summarised the key factors associated with church planting success In Australlia. The key conclusions:

Average weekly worship attendance, by year – be realistic, growth is slow

What is normal in th Australian context? The normal Australian church plant does not break 100 people in four years. Its important to have a realistic picture of growth. Australia and Canada have similar patterns of church attendance compared to America – its harder to plant a church in Australia.

Average number of new commitments to Christ – evangelism is needed and perhaps more challenging

Evangelism is obviously needed but perhaps statistically more challenging in Australia. The results also show how you hard it can be to build momentum in a church plant particularly in Australia because of the size of the church and the slow evangelistic growth.  

55% of to reach financial self-sufficiency

When do church plants reach financial self-suffciency, if at all? Among Australian chruch plants the majority of chruch plants (55%) are reaching financial self-sufficiency within a handful of years. If you are not getting to self-sufficiency by year 4 or year 5 it is likely that you will not reach financial self-sufficiency.

church plants exist to reach the lost (reaching the unchurched and the dechurched)

This slide shows the breakup amongst attendees in an average church plant. 33% of people in church plants were previously unchurched. Importantly, church plants exist to reach the lost and demonstrate good engagement. Transfer growth continues to be the biggest number across all contexts which reflects the need to have existing Christians to reach the lost. We need to keep asking ourselves how we successful we are at reaching the unchurched.

The above four slides the importance of having realistic expectations.

Notes about the study: A detailed quantatiative survey was fielded between October 2015 and February 2016. Planters were individually invtited to complete the online survey by email and phone. The draft report provides analysis of 110 church plants started in 2000 or later that continue to exist today and wers started as new church plants, church plant restarts or new church sites.