• Dennis Swanson

    Generally, the highest rate of failure amongst new businesses are restaurants. Church plants come in pretty close though. I’ve seen a couple of basic reasons for this in my consulting work. The main reason is generally a lack of people. In the NT era the Jews had a rule that a new synagogue required 10 families before an official synagogue could start. There’s nothing particularly mystical about that requirement, it was just practical. To put it in it’s basics: 10 families giving 10% = enough funds for 1 rabbi. Other’s may disagree (and they do, people have written books about this) but I am not a fan of “bi-vocational ministry.” In my analogy a new church is like a newborn baby, it requires full attention. A new mother wouldn’t leave the baby for 8-10 hours a day saying I’ve got to do my other job at UPS. If you are going to plant a church I think you need the basic foundation of people and resources so a pastor can give full time attention. The failure rates would drop dramatically just with that. They other issue is, as they say in real estate, “location, location, location.” Some TMS grads came to me once for advice about church planting. They said they were going to plant a church at location X. I asked “why?” since location X was within a 20 minute drive from not only Grace Community, but about a half dozen other good evangelical churches I could think of. Their reasoning was vague, but it pretty much had to do with they thought their theology/preaching emphasis was (apart from Grace Community) unique. They failed in six months. Another group decided to plant a church in a very expensive area. They were meeting in rented room (on a month to month and no notice on whether they would be able to use the place on any given week), but there was no hope absent someone giving them about $25 million that they could ever get a facility of their own in that particular area. It’s not that it was a bad idea or that there wasn’t even a need for that area, but they started with about four families and a couple of people and it just was never going to work; and it didn’t. I’ve seen some pretty good friendships wrecked in the process of church planting simply because they didn’t do simple, basic research and answer the basic questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

    • Jason

      Thanks Dr. Swanson. I’m looking forward to your post on church ministry coming out soon. I know Darren is editing it. I whole-heartedly amen everything you just said!