Saturday, December 14, 2013

Religious Make-up In The United States

The Business Insider magazine recently put out this map representing the largest participating religious groups in our nation. You can argue the influence of the mega-church all you want, but nothing matches the cultural and spiritual impact of a blanket of churches covering entire regions. Why, because mega churches grow and shrink based on the leadership gifts of one person, but churches tend to maintain viability for generations.

Soapbox warning...

Because the nation is blanketed in churches does that mean the work is finished? No, because...

  1. Population is growing faster than churches
  2. If the pursuit is Gospel-centered word-centered churches then there is still a great need in many regions
  3. There are still churches dying every year so we need to keep up and surpass the loss of those churches
The U.S. is reached so we should just focus on global initiatives. No, because...
  1. Our approach should be both/and because the US movement of churches will fund our global movement. In this regard we need a healthy movement of church expansion.
  2. The previously mentioned statistics regarding population growth suggests the Christian Gospel is actually losing ground.
  3. New churches reach new generations. New generations are the workforce behind the global movement of the Gospel so, rather than not plant churches, let's plant a bunch of churches with a strong vision for global mission. 
We should focus on organic (less institutional) models of church planting because that's how we'll reach future generations of unbelievers. No, because....
  1. The biblical model of church planting shows us that mission expansion looks something like this.... discipleship leads to conversion, conversion leads to church membership, membership leads to governance. Purely organic missional models aren't doing this. 
  2. Our focus should be to incorporate missionally progressive models of discipleship into Biblical church planting movements. In other words how we do mission better should be part of our model for church multiplication, not a replacement for church multiplication.
  3. Similar to the mega-churches lack of influence for generations, the organic church movement won't last because it does't have the necessary governance structures in place to sustain generations of influence.
What's my point? We need to get busy planting churches!

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