I was reading this report from LifeWay regarding the church plants. Look at the graph and if you want to read the article click on it.
We can read stats in different ways. What I see is that half of people who join church plants have been part of another church or their kids. Quarter of them have been in church, but stopped going there for a while.
Only 18% of those who became church members of the new church plants have never been in church. That means that they are raised in a non-Christian home or environment. Praise the Lord! Might be that only 18% are conversions. That can be higher than an average church who have been in neighborhood for years.
Stetzer says: “…new churches can attract demographic groups that may be largely unreached by existing ones. Sixty percent of church plants aim to reach a cross-cultural or multiethnic group of people from the outset”.
What we are doing within the Albanian Outreach looks more difficult than the average church plant. Why? The main reason is that the outreach focus is towards a group that hasn’t been in church, have no gospel background. Most of Albanians have a nominal religious background because of the Communism who didn’t allow any religion to be practiced for at least 25 years. The majority of those pretend to be Muslims (if the religion topic comes in discussion) and most of nominal Christians from Catholic or Orthodox background have no real interest for a real Christianity or understanding the Bible.
While studies done in North American soil where our ministry is operating offer certain expectations on opportunities, possibilities and how to succeed, not always are helpful for ministries towards immigrant demographic groups. Even within groups of immigrants the outreach differs. You can find many Filipino churches in Toronto and new ones start. Why? The simple reason is that besides the fact that Filipinos are the number one group immigrating in Canada, but they are in majority Christians-Evangelicals or Catholics. If you reach a group from Middle East, it’s not easy anymore. Practically we don’t hear news that a Pakistani church plant started somewhere and in two years had one hundred people. If the Gospel is powerful to change everyone immediately. that would be awesome and easier for us. But we are working with people who have many layers. And sometimes that requires time more than we think. If we want quick fruit we can make it happen, but always we need to remind ourselves the parable of four types of soil, specially the one who gave fruit but…. for a short time.
I just want to open this discussion and make us think how to have different ways how we measure the church plant success. When we do that, let question ourselves:
- Why we want successful church plants?
- Do we have similar expectations to a missionary in a foreign land with a church plant in Canada with people from that ethnic group?
- Do we need always to measure the success with numbers: people on Sunday service and dollars on offering plate?
- Can we have more than one model of church planting?
May God enlighten us that we might be successful in his terms.