I never heard the term “church planting” growing up in Black churches. It wasn’t until I got involved in White evangelical circles that I heard the phrase and it took on meaning.
This doesn’t imply that African American churches weren’t or aren’t thinking about multiplication. I remember numerous conversations around evangelism and growing the church body. Talk of non-profits and community-serving ministries was ubiquitous.
But church planting as I understand it now–strategically engaging new communities for the purpose of making disciples and providing the training, funding, and resources to support it (mainly through denominations and networks)–seems to be spoken of in different terms among African American churches.
A study released in 2013 reveals much data about the 290 African American church plants surveyed but raises many more questions.
A recap by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research highlights six “keys to success” for African American church plants (i.e. churches comprised mainly African Americans) based on the study. These six keys proved significant in both church attendance and new commitments to Christ. They are as follows:
- Church planter compensated for their work (52 percent of the new churches)
- Weeklong Boot Camp or Basic Training provided for the church planter (42 percent)
- Church planter worked 60 hours a week or more on the church plant during the first two years of the church plant (39 percent)
- Sponsor or mother church permitted the church plant to meet in the sponsoring church building (32 percent)
- Church building of their own during the first five years (20 percent)
- Contemporary worship style (13 percent)
I wish I could be a better resource on African American church planting, but I truly just have questions.
I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the following?
1. Is “church planting” a term you heard growing up in a traditional Black church? What about today? Is the terminology more common?
2. How do new African American churches get started? Is it church planting or something else (i.e. splits, planting by a different term)?
3. How are Black church planters trained and supported financially?
4. Is there still a need to intentionally plant mainly African American church plants or do we need to focus on more diverse works?
5. What else can you tell us about African American church planting?
Do you have some insights on any of the above questions? We may need to hear your perspective! Please share your responses below in the comments section.