Church Planting as an African-American

LifeWay Research president, Ed Stetzer, divulges new study results examining church planting in the African-American community.

The survey identified three characteristics that had the most positive impact on worship attendance. Those characteristics were present in more than two-thirds of the churches: delegation of leadership roles to volunteers, leadership training for new church members, and a plan of personal spiritual formation for the church planter.

The study found worship style impacts attendance. The most common worship style used by African-American church plants was blended, cited by 45 percent, followed by contemporary gospel, contemporary and urban contemporary, ranging from 12-14 percent. However, church plants with a more distinctive style, urban contemporary for instance, had higher attendance than churches using a blended style.

Six characteristics were shown to impact both worship attendance and new commitments to Jesus Christ:

1. Church planter compensated for their work (52 percent of the new churches).

2. Week-long Boot Camp or Basic Training provided for the church planter (42 percent).

3. Church planter worked 60 hours a week or more on the church plant during the first two years of the church plant (39 percent).

4. Sponsor or mother church permitted the church plant to meet in the sponsoring church building (32 percent).

5. Church building of their own during the first five years (20 percent).

6. Contemporary worship style (13 percent).

Other notable findings from the study:

1. The average number of new commitments to Jesus Christ for the first year of a church plant was 16. The average number of new commitments peaked in year three at 20, and then remained at 12 or higher for the rest of the years measured.

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Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today's Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN.