Approximately 80% of all churches in North America have reached a plateau or are declining.1 The vast majority of the church’s growth comes from “switchers” - people who move from one church to another. There is precious little conversion growth.2 Researchers suggest somewhere between 1-3%.
The average church in the United States will spend as much as 64 percent of its budget on staff salaries. Additionally, it will spend as much as 30 percent of its offerings on maintaining its buildings.5 Researchers say that churches spend between 82 - 96 percent of their financial resources on maintaining themselves.6 In 2001 “the total cost of Christian outreach worldwide averages $330,000 for each newly baptized person. The cost per baptism in the United States tops $1.5 million.”20
“Fuller Theological Seminary did a research study that found that if a church is 10 or more years old, it takes 85 people to lead 1 person to Christ. If a church is less than 3 years old, it takes only 3 people to lead 1 person to Christ.” 7 & 8
Every year, approximately 4000 new churches open their doors. Every year approximately 4000 churches close their doors for the last time.10
60% of Americans under the age of 40 have NOT walked into a church building.11
The median age of North America is 36 years old. The median age of Adventists in North America is 51 years old.12
"The greatest English speaking mission field in the world is North America." Leonard Sweet.14
Between 2000—2005, 20 million people, of all denominations, left the typical North American local church.15
Where are they going? Agreeing with other researchers, George Barna, in his book Revolution, has confirmed that many are going to house churches, in a spiritual quest of a more relevant relationship with God.
Why are they leaving?
“The new Revolution differs in that its primary impetus is not salvation among the unrepentant but the personal renewal and recommitment of believers. The dominant catalyst is people’s desperation for a genuine relationship with God. The renewal of that relationship spurs believers to participate in spreading the gospel. Rather than relying on a relative handful of inspired preachers to promote a national revival, the emerging Revolution is truly a grassroots explosion of commitment to God that will refine the Church and result in a natural and widespread immersion in outreach.”15
We also believe that house churches are the best way to reach this growing number of unchurched people.
The description from Wikipedia makes cell churches look like a different kind of thing and not terribly useful:
Cell churches are usually associated with larger churches: they also meet in homes and share some characteristics of house churches. They are not normally considered to be a house church, as they are not self-governing.
Some within the house church movement (associated with Wolfgang Simson, Frank Viola and others) consider the term "house church" to be a misnomer, asserting that the main issue for Christians who practice their faith in this manner is not the house but the type of meeting that takes place. Other titles which may be used to describe this movement are "simple church" "relational church," "primitive church," "body life," "organic church," or "biblical church." However all of the practices implied by these terms are shared with many other churches outside the movement.
The Cell Church Movement
There is a definite shift in large congregations to have what are now called cell churches. For terminology sake, cell churches are not the same as home churches - although cell churches are typically in homes. Home churches are autonomous in nature. In other words, in a home church, each group is independent. Home churches are completely free to have any focus, vision, or emphasis the Lord is leading them in at any time. A cell church on the other hand, typically is an expression of a larger, traditional meeting with a definite hierarchy in place. The pastor provides the vision for the group and the cell group leaders carry out that vision in the cell church meetings. Cell churches can be a wonderful place of fellowship, intimacy, and connecting - and I don’t speak against them in that regard. Although cell churches are the new thing, the hierarchy in the traditional church system that governs cell churches is nothing new.
Autonomy for a gathering is critical. Every home gathering is different. We all are in different places. The dynamics of those you are meeting with and are being knit with is going to change and grow all of the time. There will be different seasons with different focuses and emphasis. If the Lord wants to provide a particular focus on a particular night or accomplish certain things in the group for a season, it can easily be short circuited by the cell church agenda. Handing down the topics and subjects to be covered in the home meetings can kill the flow of life.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Simple Church, Home Church, Cell Church, Maybe its time
With the problems in the Adventist church such as the ordination issue and the over-reaching Bureaucracy it may be time to consider changing the way we do church. I am going to do a little research in the next week or so on the subject. But you can start at the same point as I am by going to the Simple Church website and considering the information they have. I will give a few excerpts here.