Send Orientation Breaks Attendance, Churches Still Recovering from Pandemic & Next Great Revival
A record-setting 216 church planters attended the first Send Network Orientation since Vance Pitman introduced new values for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) church planting arm in October. Almost every church in the U.S. is holding in-person services again, but some pre-pandemic churchgoers still haven’t returned. And, Bill Eliff believes the conditions are right for a revival in America. Elliff is the founding pastor of The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
A record-setting 216 church planters attended the first Send Network Orientation since Vance Pitman introduced new values for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) church planting arm in October.
The new missionaries speak 11 different languages; represent more than 30 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, and Puerto Rico; and were sent by some 130 sending churches. They gathered Nov. 1-3 in Alpharetta.
The attendance record was previously broken by the Send Network Orientation immediately prior to this one in March of this year, with 165 new planters.
Almost every church in the U.S. is holding in-person services again, but some pre-pandemic churchgoers still haven’t returned.
In August 2022, 100% of U.S. Protestant pastors (rounded to the nearest whole number) say their churches met in person, according to a Lifeway Research study. This continues the increases from the past two years of churches holding physical gatherings. In August 2021, 98% of churches gathered in person, after 75% reported the same in July 2020.
Despite churches returning to pre-pandemic levels of holding in-person services, not all churchgoers have followed suit. On average, U.S. Protestant churches report current attendance at 85% of their typical Sunday morning crowds in January 2020, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite falling below a full return, this marks the highest attendance levels in more than two years. In September 2020, the average church reported 63% of their pre-pandemic in-person attendance. Last August, the percentage climbed to 73%, before rising another 12 percentage points this year.
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Bill Eliff believes the conditions are right for a revival in America. Elliff is the founding pastor of The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arknsas.
In a piece on Baptist Press he writes, “The reasons are, number one, the condition of our nation and world. Revival doesn’t come when everything’s great. It comes when everything is dark. God’s people get desperate and they cry out. This decade reminds me so much of the 60s. There was a spirit of anarchy, there was rioting, there was a whole new level of sexual perversion that was happening. There was real discontent on the campuses … and that’s exactly the season we’re in right now. [The circumstances of the 1960s] resulted in the Jesus Movement in the early 70s, which was the last significant movement of revival and awakening that we’ve had in our nation.
Number two, I see God raising up voices all across America. Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t scare up a conversation about revival. Now, every thinking pastor I know is talking about revival and awakening and prayer. God is raising up voices. That’s what He has always done. There’s a call to repentance about the coming judgment of God if we don’t repent. The role of the Holy Spirit and the role of prayer, that has by and large been lost, is being returned. That really encourages me. The desperation that is happening, I think, is a sign. The extraordinary prayer that’s going on [is a sign]. The National Prayer Committee chairman, Dave Butts, said to me not too long ago that they believe more people are praying right now in America than any time in American history.”
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