You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 4

I’ve been working through some idea about researching a city in order to reach a city.

In part 2, I introduced a case study of church planting in Baltimore / Washington. This study is an unpublished report on the current state of church planting in the Washington DC and Baltimore Corridor focuses on identifying the church plants and who is planting them.

I found it fascinating and one helpful element to understanding what God is doing in a city.

Here is more from that study.


Church Planting in Washington DC / Baltimore Corridor

New Church Plants Identified

Church planting has continued to expand over the last five years.

  • 274 churches were identified that have started in the last 5 years
  • It is estimated that as many as 70 churches or a quarter of the total of the new churches have not been identified. These churches are usually independent, non-English speaking, small denominations, or house churches, etc…


The Following Questions Relate to the 274 Identified Churches.
Who are Planting Churches?

Denominations/associations lead the way over all other efforts combined in the planting of churches.

222 churches were planted by denominations/associations 81%
31 by national and local networks 11%
54 by church planting churches (have planted 3 or more churches) 20%
47 are independent plants 17%

The total adds up to over 274 and over 100% because of co-sponsoring between church planting churches, networks, and denominations.

What Denominations/Associations are Planting Churches?

22 denominations/associations were identified for planting churches. Southern Baptists are starting 49% of the new churches.

133 by Southern Baptist 49%
17 by Assemblies of God 6%
14 by Church of God Cleveland 5%
10 by Church of the Nazarene 4%
9 by Christian Church 3%
6 by Foursquare 2%
6 by Anglican 2%
27 by other denominations/associations 10%
52 not by denominations 19%
What Networks are Planting Churches?

National networks are just getting established in the area. Although few in number, the pastors generally have more training, are better funded, and experience a higher survivability rate.

8 by Baltimore/Washington Christian Church network **
5 by Ecclesia *
3 by Stadia
3 by Orchard
2 by Acts 29
2 by ARC *
2 by Liberty
2 by New Thing
2 by Redeemer City to City *
2 by SENT **
1 by Kairos
1 by Virginia Evangelizing Fellowship
0 by Calvary
0 by Launch
by Mosaic *
by Vision 360
* National Network with a local representative
**Local Network

Who are the Church Planting Churches (churches planting 3 or more churches in our metro areas in the last 5 years)?

Although other churches were church planting churches 10, 15, or 20 years ago, most of these became church planting churches in the last 5 years. These church planting churches have been identified.

5 Capital Baptist Church, Annandale, VA
5 Mountain Christian, Jappa, MD** ***
5 New Life Christian, Chantilly, VA** ***

4 National Community Church, DC*
4 New Life Wesleyan Church, Waldorf, MD
4 Northwest Baptist Church, Reisterstown, MD

3 Capitol Hill Baptist Church, DC***
3 Church of the Resurrection, DC***
3 Grace Fellowship Church, Timonium, MD**
3 McLean Bible Church, VA*
3 Frontline of McLean Bible Church, VA*
3 by The Gathering of McLean Bible Church, VA*
3 Pathways Church, Bel Air, MD
3 The Falls Church, Falls Church, VA***
3 Word of Life Int. Church, Ashburn, MD

*Churches who are planting exclusively through multi-site locations.
**Churches planting through multi-site locations and new churches
***Churches with internship/residency programs for new church planting pastors

“For God did Not Give Us a Spirit of Timidity, But a Spirit of Power, of Love and of Self-Discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7


I find the list interesting. The people involved in the research tend to be non-denominational (with a Restoration / Independent Christian streak) so they are not generally denominational apologists. Thus, the overwhelming number of church plants being denominational is worth noting. When you combine Southern Baptists (who planted almost half) and Pentecostals (Assemblies of God, Church of God Cleveland, and Foursquare), you see a strong majority of the churches. Also of note: the lack of plants from mainline denominations.

Now, they may have missed some plants (though they worked hard to identify them), but I found this interesting. Networks get a lot of press and are doing great things, but denominations are doing much of the planting in this area. (It is probably helpful to note that the SBC targeted this region through something called Strategic Focus Cities, a denominational church planting initiative, and that probably increased the SBC numbers more than you would see in another city).

Read more on this series: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 5.

Read more from Ed here.

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Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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