While church construction has fallen 80 percent since 2002, now down to its lowest level since record keeping began in 1967, new congregations are being established at a rapid rate, reports the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 15).
Rob Moll reports that the $3.15 billion spent in the construction of religious buildings is half the level of a decade ago. Factors driving this trend include post recession financial challenges affecting religious giving, and the growth of non-affiliated Americans. Yet at the same time, about 4,000 congregations are sprouting annually, according to Warren Bird of Leadership Network. Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research has estimated the establishment of new congregations to double or triple in the last two decades.
Most of these new congregations are renting facilities from schools, community centers or other churches. Molls adds that much of this new growth has been driven by individual churches deciding to start new congregations rather than denominations directing the process, with “mother churches” starting daughter congregations, often in a nearby city using a core group of members from the original church.