So many reports on congregations in the United States detail the decline of faith communities. However, not all the data demonstrate these dire circumstances.
Ed Setzer and Warren Bird share information revealing that the total number of congregations in the U.S. is no longer declining. Each year since 2010, more U.S. congregations formed than closed.
Many of the 4000 new congregations are started by existing congregations. There is a correlation between the health of a congregation and its willingness to start a new congregation.
For those interested in learning more about the new church planting reality, I highly recommend the book Viral Churches by Setzer and Bird.
I wonder what lessons learned from church planting can be applied to established congregations seeking to address decline. What would happen if seasoned congregations chose to establish, perhaps not a church plant or even a satellite, but something like a congregational annex? Could the formation of an annex - an entirely new expression of congregational life that may be discontinuous with present experience - provide the opportunity for vital religious expression among those that are currently not associated with a religious community?