Member Publication: Church Planters: Inside The World of Religion Entrepreneurs

Hi OOW Members! Check out this new book by OOW member and Professor Richard N. Pitt:


Richard N. Pitt, University of California San Diego, Church Planters: Inside The World of Religion Entrepreneurs (Oxford University Press, 2021).


Starting a new organization is risky business. And churches are no exception. Many new Protestant churches are established without denominational support and, therefore, have many of the same vulnerabilities other startups must overcome. Millions of Americans are leaving churches, half of all churches do not add any new members, and thousands of churches shutter their doors each year. These numbers suggest that American religion is not a growth industry. On the other hand, more than 1000 new churches are started in any given year. What moves people who might otherwise be satisfied working for churches to take on the riskier role of starting one? In Church Planters, sociologist Richard Pitt uses more than 125 in-depth interviews with church planters to understand their motivations.

Pitt’s work endeavors to uncover themes in their sometimes miraculous, sometimes mundane answers to the question: “why take on these risks?” He examines how they approach common entrepreneurial challenges in ways that reduce uncertainty and lead them to believe they will be successful. By combining the evocative stories of church planters with insights from research on commercial and social entrepreneurship, Pitt explains how these religion entrepreneurs come to believe their organizational goals must be accomplished, that they can be accomplished, and that they will be accomplished.

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