Church Planting and Church Growth in Western Europe: An Analysis

Stefan Paas and Alrik Vos

Church planting is often seen as the best way to grow the church numerically.
However, there is surprisingly little research examining this claim in any detail, and
the research that exists turns out to be not very well-founded or unclear in terms
of sources, definitions, and so forth. Recently, research has been conducted in three
small Reformed denominations in the Netherlands, comparing older and younger
churches with regard to converts and returnees. The results show that the younger
churches gained approximately four times as many converts and five times as many
returnees as did older churches. Three explanations seem the most plausible: younger
churches are more often in good demographic locations, they spend more time and
energy on outreach, and their leadership is more entrepreneurial. (July 2016)