The U.S. Church is Infertile and Dysfunctional

One common excuse that Christians offer for not engaging in missional activity that results in starting new churches is a concern for church health. “We need to be healthy before we can start a new church” or “We need to focus our resources on our own health so we cannot possibly reach out or start something new” or “We cannot afford to plant churches.” Bob Logan responds to these complaints:

God has not left us with an either/or choice: either we focus on health or we focus on multiplication. God has designed the process so they both go together and mutually enhance one another. Healthy churches multiply and multiplying churches become healthier Multiplication is a necessary, essential step toward healthy maturity. (1)

Henry Klopp observes that there is a growing evidence of dysfunction among pastors and churches. He identifies two contributing causes:

1) The growing number of dysfunctional people in our culture. This is also a trend with pastors. “Many pastors are extremely codependent in their behavior, which is unhealthy for them and the churches they serve.” (2)

2) The growing expectations placed on pastors. Unreal expectations and unfair comparisons based on exposure to Christian media add significant burdens to pastors and church leaders. (3)

Combining dysfunctional people and unrealistic expectations results in churches that are extremely unhealthy, and consequently, spiritual reproduction of disciples, leaders and churches is non-existent.

The mission of Jesus is empowered by the gospel. Without the cross, all religious activity is dead and worthless. It will not last. Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Where is the gospel’s power evident in America?

Sadly, the transforming power of the gospel is absent in many churches. You may be surprised to learn

· “Roughly half of all churches in America did not add one new person through conversion growth [in 1999].” (4)

I personally doubt that has changed in the past few years.

· “In the U.S., it takes the combined efforts of 85 Christians working over an entire year to produce one convert.” (5)

Disciples are not making disciples who make disciples. Spiritual reproduction is non-existent. Churches are not reproducing churches. Both Christians and churches in America are infertile! They have stopped trying to reproduce altogether. Although God designed every Christian with a capacity for spiritual reproduction, most Christians seem incapable of doing it.

Imagine the headlines if it were suddenly discovered that 96 percent of women in America were no longer fertile and could not have babies. We would instantly know two things. First, this is not natural, so there is something wrong with their health. Second, we would also know that the future is in serious jeopardy. This is the state of the church in America right now. It is that serious, and we need to take heed. (6)

Yet, what if Christians started multiplying disciples? What if churches started not just adding churches but actually multiplying churches? What if there was an explosion of church planting across America? Here is the reality: “If we were to plant 2,000 churches in the next year, each church would have to reach more than 1,500 people in their first year just to keep up with the projected population growth for North America.” (7)

Ed Stetzer acknowledges, “Our churches are dying, and culture is changing. We know new churches can make a difference. Church planting is not easy, but without it the church will continue to decline in North America.” (8)


  1. Logan, Be Fruitful and Multiply, 27.
  2. Klopp, The Ministry Playbook, 64.
  3. Clegg and Bird, Lost in America: How You and Your Church Can Impact the World Next Door, 27 
  4. Rainer, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, 23. 
  5. Cole, Organic Church, 92. 
  6. Bailey, ed., Pursuing the Mission of God in Church Planting, 40.
  7. Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches, 14.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author

Dave DeVries

Social Media

Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply