Keller lists four groups that, according to multiple studies, church plants reach the best.
1. New Residents: It takes longer for a new resident to break into community and leadership at an established church, simply because the people have been there longer. But in a church plant, new residents have been at the church as long as everyone else.
2. New Generations: Young adults are often more involved in church plants simply because of the institutional challenges to change that an established church faces.
3. New People Groups: Keller gives this example. If a farming community begins changing so that young commuters begin moving in, an established church may be 75-80% farmers, while a new church plant is more likely to be 75-80% commuting professionals.
4. New Christians: Dozens of denominational studies have shown that the average new church gains 60-80% of their members from the ranks of the unchurched. On the other hand, the average American church over 10 years old gains 80-90% of its members through transfer growth. This makes sense. As a church ages, it naturally allocates more resources to taking care of the needs of current members. But a church plant is forced to invest into non-members in order to survive.
Some stats from Piper:
1. There are about 200 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the four largest “unchurched” nations in the world.
2. Each year about 3,500 churches close their doors permanently.
3. Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, four out of five are either plateaued or declining.
4. One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.