Research about church planting in America has produced some interesting and hopeful findings.
According to a couple of studies by Lifeway Research, new protestant churches are outpacing the closing of churches in the U.S. The research also found that new churches attract many people who previously didn't attend anywhere.
Scott McConnell, vice president of the Nashville-based research organization, says in 2014 more than 4,000 new churches opened its doors while about 3,700 were closing its doors.
"There's definitely a need for new churches just because of the population itself," he says, "but also the ability of church plants to reach different sub-groups within our population."
They also surveyed church planters and found some positive outcomes, including more commitments to Christ and reaching more "unchurched" people than "churched" people.
On average, the study found, 42 percent of those worshiping at churches launched since 2008 previously never attended church or hadn't attended in many years.
McConnell says these new churches have an outward focus.
"So they're meeting in public spaces like schools," he observes, "and they're focusing on outreach in a very public way by being involved in sports leagues, in social gatherings, in children's events."
McConnell also says new churches support their leaders with adequate compensation and health insurance, and he adds that new churches also invest in church planting.