After three decades of rapid evangelical church and ministry planting in the New York City metropolitan area, can they keep it up?
1978 was the beginning. The number of evangelical church and ministry plants in that year was almost three times greater than the average number per year for previous decades. Since then, the number of successful evangelical church and ministry plants has averaged 1.7% a year. By 2000 that church & ministry planting ratio translated into 110 churches and ministries planted per year.
In 2007 the Values Research Institute partnered with the New York City Leadership Center to survey over 800 church and ministry leaders in the metropolitan area, which includes NYC and its adjacent areas in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York states. Although the NYC Leadership Center has assembled one of the most complete lists of churches and ministries in the metropolitan area, it is by no means complete. The survey was done in English. If non-English speakers had been included, the annual church and ministry rate would likely be higher.
50% of evangelical churches and ministries were founded since 1978. Their appearance has profoundly changed the religious map of the New York City metropolitan area. There has hardly been anything like this in NYC since the 19th Century. And the church and ministry planting appears to be accelerating.
Since 2000, the average annual church planting rate was 2.25%. If the church and ministry planting by evangelicals continued at this rate, they will plant 2,415 more churches and ministries by 2020. (The net number of churches and ministries will be lower as a result of church & ministry closings, mergers and moves.)
The church membership of evangelicals is also growing at a rate of 5-8% per year. However, the overall growth rate obscures the wide range of sizes, growth and viability of churches and ministries. A wise strategic outlook for evangelicals would segment the different needs, opportunities and situations of the churches and ministries. More attention needs to be paid to the long-term failure/success rate and how well evangelical organizations follow-up with their new members and opportunities. Also, some groups and parts of the metropolitan area are underserved by evangelical churches and ministries.