Church Planting in West Chester: By the Numbers

We talked a little bit about these last Sunday night. If you are curious, here are the statistics:

Greater West Chester (the five zip codes around it) have a population of about 150,000 people (160,000 really, but 150 is easier to work with).

  • 65% say they do not attend church. Approximately 100,000 people.

  • 35% say they do attend church. 50,000--not bad.

  • 17% of people are actually in church on any given Sunday. Around 25,000. It could be worse until you consider that 100,000 people are not in church.

There is another way of looking at this:

  • Studies have reported that somewhere between 47-95% of all non-churchgoers would attend church if they were invited by a friend.

  • That means that there are somewhere between 47,000 and 95,000 people who are, in some way, waiting to be invited to church.

  • Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful...

But he also said that the workers are few...

  • 80% of all churches in America are in plateau or in decline.

  • 16% of all churches are growing.

  • 4% of all churches are growing and reproducing through multi-site or church planting.

  • Churches when they hit decline usually hit a 10 year half life and most of them, if they do not disappear with the Builder generation, will finish the calling of shepherding the Boomer generation through their lives. These are not churches that will be effective in reaching new generations.

It is encouraging to have growing churches, however...

  • 80-90% of all new membership in established churches comes from other churches. At best they are growing off the demise of the 80% churches that are in plateau or decline. When the 80% feeder system dries up, those in the 16% that do not shift approaches will also join the 80%.

There is great hope in the 4%, particularly if that number could rise to something like 10%.

  • 60-80% of the growth in a new church comes from those who do not currently attend church

  • Churches less than 3 years old win an average of 10 people for every 100 church members. Churches 3-10 years old win an average of 5 people for every 100 church members. Churches over 15 years old win an average of 3 people for every 100 members.

Therefore, churches in their first ten years experience their greatest outreach potential of their life.

West Chester has not seen a new church planted in the last ten years.

Let me say it again. There are 100,000 people there and no new churches in ten years...

Tens of thousands of people await an opportunity to experience the love of Christ through the opportunity of a new, fresh expression of the Body of Christ in their community.

P.S. It is important to know that these statistics do not suggest that established churches are unfaithful to God. To me, over the years, a church's calling broadens as participants age, as ministries mature, as younger leaders are developed and deployed. However, because of this reality, churches that are committed to the Great Commission must seriously consider planting in order to continue to be fruitful in outreach. To hear more reasons, check out Tim Keller's article, Why Church Planting? or check out my four part set of posts on Why we plant churches.


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