People are leaving the church, and churches are closing their doors. In America, about 3,500-4,000 churches close every year and only about 1,000 are planted. There are an estimated 100 Baptist churches in Palm Beach County and according to the North American Mission Board, about 70% of them are in decline. At the same time, our population is growing! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida is now the third largest state and most of that population resides in South Florida.
It’s happening in our own backyard.
There’s a declining rate of practicing Christians in the U.S. overall and a recent study named West Palm Beach the #1 “never-churched” city in America. Right here in our backyard is the largest population of people who have never attended church regularly in their lives. This is different than people who are “de-churched” meaning they haven’t regularly attended religious services for the past 6 months.
Add to this the reality that fewer and fewer Americans are motivated to go out of their way for many things, especially church. We can access everything we want electronically from the comfort of our own homes. If you don’t believe me, consider the fate of the American shopping mall. No new enclosed malls have been built since 2006, and Robin Lewis, author of The New Rules of Retail, predicts fully half of all our malls will close in the next ten years.
The solution: Plant new churches and revitalize old ones.
Our vision at Family Church is to plant 100 neighborhood churches in south Florida. But the rate at which we can plant new churches can’t keep pace with how quickly existing churches are failing or the population is growing. This is why we need to plant churches AND revitalize existing ones. If we can both plant AND revitalize, we can reverse the trend and continue Jesus’ mission of making disciples.
What will you do?
America is shifting away from its Christian roots and reputation – and many churches are unable or unwilling to adapt. The need for revitalization (on top of church planting) is something we’re serious about at Family Church. What about you? What can you going to do to make sure we have more gospel-proclaiming congregations for the generations to come?
Watch for Part 2: Why Churches Resist Revitalization