North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell reports great progress in SBC-affiliated church planting: almost 1,000 churches in 2014, up 5% from the year prior.

This is still a long way from — but it’s closer and and closer to — the 2,500 or so churches we’d need to plant each year to double our numbers in the next 20 years.

That’s not an official SBC or North American Mission Board goal. But it’s my goal. If we want to see a new Great Awakening, if we want to see better days for our country and our world, that is an essential part of the work we have to do.

Church Plants: 5% Gain in 2014

by Kevin Ezell
Baptist Press
March 17, 2015

ALPHARETTA, Ga., (BP) — Southern Baptists planted 985 new churches in 2014 — a 5 percent increase over 2013 church starts.

This is very good news as we work toward diminishing the church-to-population deficit that steadily grew larger over the last century in the United States and Canada. It is also good because new churches, on average, reach people for Christ at a higher rate than existing churches.

These are churches like Mosaic in Alberta, Canada. They launched on Easter 2014 and have already seen 200 people give their lives to Christ, with 40 of them being baptized. They started giving to the Cooperative Program shortly after they launched.

Southern Baptists also saw 208 new churches affiliate with our convention in 2014. In all, that means 1,193 new congregations were added to the SBC.

Sioux Falls, S.D., church planter Jonathan Land preaches at a Connection Church worship service. The church is part of the North American Mission Board’s church plant class of 2014, having launched on Easter last year.
File photo by John Swain/NAMB

And there are good reports in regions outside the South where Southern Baptists have not traditionally been as strong:

— In Ohio 37 churches were planted in 2014, up from 17 in 2013.

— In New York 42 churches were planted, up from 20 in 2013.

— In the Northwest Baptist Convention, which includes Oregon, Washington and some parts of Idaho, 27 churches were planted, up from three in 2013.

We celebrate when a new church is planted anywhere, but increases in these areas are especially encouraging.

More than 58 percent of the churches Southern Baptists started in 2014 were non-Anglo. This must continue as our society grows more diverse — especially in and around large cities where more than 80 percent of North Americans live. Our churches must reflect the communities they serve.

There is much more work to be done. We need many more churches and we must continue to make our existing churches healthier and more outwardly focused. My prayer is that the growth we saw in 2014 will be the starting point for a Southern Baptist church planting wave and that more churches and individuals will become personally involved in this effort to evangelize North America.