"Does Lincoln really need another church?"
This is a question I get pretty regularly, and you know, it is a reasonable one. I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when a groomsman at a wedding I was officiating asked me what I do. When I shared with him about Mosaic Lincoln, he was dumbfounded. For the next hour he drilled me with questions about church planting. It was a lot of fun! I have to admit I love these conversations; partly because I love talking about church planting but also because the conversation is never just about what I do, it's also about what's behind what I do: a love for God and a love for Lincoln.
When people from Lincoln ask me why in the world another church would be needed in a city like Lincoln, there are typically one of two assumptions behind it:
- 1, that existing churches are already sufficiently ministering to the entire city (a conclusion generally assumed by Christians)
- or 2, that having more churches in the city isn’t particularly desirable (a conclusion generally assumed by most everyone else).
Let's begin with the first.
Lincoln does have a number of churches already, but are those churches effectively ministering to the entire city?
- Statistics have consistently shown that while most Americans associate themselves with Christianity on paper, few are actually an active part of a faith community. That being said, nearly 140,000 Lancaster Country residents do not claim religious affiliation! Of those that do "claim" Christianity, stats suggest that as few as 25% are actually connected to a church.
- Of Lincoln’s 30,000+ college students, less than 10% are reportedly a part of a faith community.
- Between 1990 and 2000, Lincoln’s population grew 18%. Great to see that our city is growing! However, during this same time church attendance declined 2.7%. This reveals that while the city continues to add tens of thousands to its growing population, the reach of the church is actually shrinking.
A brief look at the stats above reveals that the vast majority of Lincoln’s 250,000+ residents remain unreached by the church.
However, our second assumption we began with begs the question “Is that really such a bad thing?” This is perhaps the most important question.
As we’ve already mentioned, the vast majority of Americans say they believe in God. Most even consider themselves to be “Christian,” and yet fewer and fewer are going to church each year. This dropout is happening at an alarming rate, particularly amongst young adults. (Lincoln has roughly 100,000 between the ages of 20 and 40!) Just about every denomination is feeling the hit as fewer and fewer are showing up each week and as thousands of churches close their doors each year.
Can you see the profound disconnect here? – so many people are interested in Jesus, even believe in Jesus, and yet fewer and fewer believe that the church really has anything meaningful to offer them. People aren’t losing their faith in God, they're losing their faith in the church. At the very least, I think we can agree that something needs to change.
This is the "why?" behind Mosaic Lincoln.
(For more on this subject, check out Tim Keller's excellent article "Why Plant Churches?")