Pathways to Planting

HandsplantThank you for interest in new church development in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference! The documents found here are designed to orient you in the basic steps needed to assess the potential for starting a new church in our annual conference.

Why Start New Churches?

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert. Be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19 (The Message)

Here is our current cultural reality:

  • On any given Sunday only 22% of our population in Western North Carolina is in worship.
  • Over the past two decades not one county in the US has a grown in overall church attendance and that includes areas where our mega-churches exist.
  • When our population has been surveyed about their religious affiliation those who indicate “non-affiliated” or checked “none” include:
    • One out of our every six Americans
    • One out of every five men
    • One out of every three young adults ages 18-29
    • Many of these non-affiliated people consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”.
  • In less than a half a century our “churched” culture has declined from 98% to 73% which is 1% per year.
  • If only 22% of our current population is in worship or participating regularly in the life of the church and that number is declining by 1% a year where will we be in 20 years?

Revitalizing existing churches and starting new churches are two sides of the same vitality coin.

The most effective strategy for reaching people for the Kingdom of God and helping them become disciples of Jesus Christ includes strengthening the vitality of our current congregations AND starting new churches in missionally appropriate areas and contexts. Already, many of our new church plants emerge in, through and from our existing churches.

While strengthening the vitality of our existing churches is essential it has been shown time and time again that the most effective strategy for reaching newer, younger and more diverse people is through new communities of faith.


Articles in this resource (you may also use the menu at the top to access them):