Go [to the Pacific Northwest] and Make Disciples
Right now, in the US, there are approximately 4 million babies born every year, but there are only 4,000 new churches started. Just to maintain the current percentage of people committed to a church in the US, the American church needs to plant more than 215,000 churches in the next 30 years. 4,000 new churches a year isn’t going to get it done.
Just north of where I live, in Snohomish County, Washington, the need for more churches has never been more apparent. From a purely statistical standpoint, Snohomish County, which borders the Puget Sound to the east and sits just north of Seattle, has grown in population by 13% is the last eight years, adding nearly 92,000 people. Combined with other counties in the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, we’ve seen a growth of 376,000 people since 2010. For perspective, that’s equal to almost the entire population of Cleveland, OH moving to the region in the last eight years.
The number of churches being planted in the Puget Sound region is not keeping up with this population growth and is even now insufficient for reaching the people who already live here with the Good News.
If you’ve been to my neck of the woods, you may be thinking that you see churches everywhere, and you’re right. A 2015 study by Property Shark found that Seattle had the second highest number of churches per capita in the nation, trailing Indianapolis. However, if you dig deeper, at 33%, Seattle is also ranked second, behind Portland, in the percentage of residents who are religiously unaffiliated.
This tells us that while there are a lot of buildings in which the Good News can be heard, they are often not connecting with a community that is unaffiliated with the faith.
There is hope!
We know that church planting is the single most effective way to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We also see in research from Pew that “evangelical protestantism,” in other words, non-denominational Christian churches have seen an uptick in attendance over the last decade as people are drawn toward churches that are teaching the Bible with intentionality and reverence, encouraging and facilitating real discipleship, and encouraging daily intimacy with God.
These practical tactics are the fuel and lifeblood of church plants. While we continue to “go and make disciples of all nations,” let us not neglect home. I am grateful for and in awe of the strong work many of the established churches have done in the Puget Sound region, but it just is not enough. With a rapidly growing population and an already high population of religiously unaffiliated, we need more thriving, multiplying church plants.
Stadia wants to see a world where every child has a church. We are burdened by that word “every,” and in order to move toward that vision, we are offering our world-class services to church planters and church planting organizations with open hands and with no strings attached. We believe this has the potential to greatly accelerate church planting efforts here in the Puget Sound and across the United States and will result in more and more churches that are thriving and multiplying.
To find out more, check out stadiachurchplanting.org/plant, or if you live in the Pacific Northwest, check out one of the church planting events below!