According to research by Ed Stetzer from Lifeway Research and Warren Bird more churches were started than closed last year. This is good news though there is more to be done according to this article here to see church planting move from fad to multiplication movement. I would be interested in the numbers for United Methodism and for the Virginia Conference as to the number of churches started this year versus the number closed. Here are some highlights from the article:"[C]hurch planting is on the mind of North American Christians at unprecedented levels," they (Stetzer and Bird) write.That means, church planting must move from being a fad or "the next big thing" to a "passionate pursuit of the lost."Another obstacle is getting past the "don't we already have enough churches?" mentality. There may be a hesitancy to having a church planting emphasis because "the thinking seems to be [that] there's a church on every corner and most of them are empty," state the authors, who have led and studied church plants. But research shows that new churches fare better when it comes to drawing new people and they have a higher ratio of conversions and baptisms compared to more established churches, according to Viral Churches.Ultimately, Stetzer and Bird are hoping to see a multiplication movement, similar to what occurred between 1795 and 1810 among Methodist and Baptist churches. Within that time span, some 3,000 churches were started. "If church multiplication like that happened again today, it would be characterized by a 50 percent conversion rate (new believers) and a 50 percent reproduction rate (new churches) sustained for at least three generations of churches," they explain.Read the full article here.