Orchard Group Report 2020-2021

It’s hard to think of very many aspects of normal life that haven’t been disrupted in the past year. Yet, one thing has never been disrupted, and never will be: God is still at work in our world!

Orchard Group Report 2020-2021

2 ways to read the report:

Table of Contents

Paris, where the church plant Église St-Lazare launched in 2017.

From the President/CEO, Brent Storms

How many things in your life were disrupted in 2020? Maybe you had to stop going in to the office for work. Maybe you lost your job. If you have kids in school, your routines were certainly interrupted. You probably stopped going to the gym and worshipping in person at church. You might have stopped going to the supermarket and started having your groceries delivered. How many times have you had to walk back to your car to get your mask before entering the store? It’s hard to think of very many aspects of normal life that haven’t been disrupted, at least partially or temporarily, in the past year.

Yet, one thing has never been disrupted, and never will be: God is still at work in our world!

When the pandemic broke out and shutdowns started occurring, it was instinctive for me to worry about what this would mean for the new churches we are starting and serving. But the church planting leaders we are backing demonstrated amazing adaptability, resiliency, and creativity. Our Board of Trustees established a special fund to help the newest and neediest church plants purchase equipment they would need to take their services online. We hired a digital engagement consultant who worked with all of our new churches to improve their virtual experiences. While a few of our churches are now able to meet in person, most are still relying on the internet, and all of them offer a wider range of ways for more people to hear the gospel than ever before.

God is still at work through new churches! New church planters are saying “yes” to God’s call to start churches in Manhattan, Oakland, Baltimore, greater Miami, and more. Partner churches are making new commitments to fund and support church plants. Families are showing up in person after finding and worshipping with a new church online. New believers are saying, “I’ve never been to church in person but I want to be baptized.” Individuals are growing in discipleship and choosing to tithe even in the midst of economic uncertainty. Small groups are making sure people who are stuck at home alone don’t feel alone.

I wouldn’t have guessed this months ago, but I now believe that many new churches will emerge from these disruptions stronger than ever. Jesus is building His Church and a global pandemic will not overcome it!

Brent Storms, President/CEO

A Story of New Life: Istanbul Projesi

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel..." —Romans 1:16

God is growing his church in Istanbul in remarkable ways. In 2020, Istanbul Projesi church had the joy of baptizing six new believers, an incredible figure given the highly unchurched context. Even though choosing  Christianity  can put their livelihoods, their relationships, and even their lives at risk, people are still putting their faith in Jesus through Istanbul Projesi.

Istanbul’s famous “umbrella street”


This year in Orchard Group churches, thousands of people were introduced to the life and story of Jesus, and hundreds were baptized into new faith!

In September 2020, Trace Church had the joy of celebrating 18 baptisms. Since its launch in 2016, more than 150 people have been baptized at Trace.

Phineas' Story

“I spent five years living under the bridges and in the creekbeds of SLO County. I drank vodka morning, noon, and night, with no concept of time. I spent many, many months in SLO County Jail, and I was hospitalized many times with pancreatitis.

Now, in recovery, I've been totally clean for three-and-a-half years, and I'm a believer now… Since finding Jesus, my life has exceeded my wildest dreams. I never thought I'd work again, but now I'm the executive director of a nonprofit.

While I found Jesus in recovery, I hadn't found a church to be part of until meeting someone who went to SLO City Church. God has been teaching me that if there's hope for me, there's hope for anyone.”

Phineas, member at SLO City Church

"Political alliances, dividing lines, and hostility didn’t distract or deter Jesus from what he had to do and the hope he had to share.” —Brent Bramer, Church Planter, SLO City Church

This year reminded us that our hope is in Jesus.
"That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people..."  —1 Timothy 4:10


The Gathering Church in Harlem brings Christian presence, prayer, and prophetic voice to the protests of 2020.

“When the pandemic first began, many Christians wondered aloud if this was the beginning of a revival. At first, I bristled at the idea, but now I believe we are — although maybe not in the traditional understanding. Tim Keller once wrote that revival happens when ‘sleepy Christians wake up, nominal Christians get converted, and non-Christians get reached.’ There has never been a moment in my lifetime that people are having as significant an ‘awakening’ to real issues. As painful as the past few months have been, still, it feels like more ground was covered in 2020 than in the last 20 years combined. We may be on the precipice of a revival that can lead to true unity.

I’m incredibly proud of everyone at Orchard Group. I have been working alongside our executive team as a thought partner on how we can steward our influence, assist our planters, and work toward the future with respect to our diversity.”

Jordan Rice, Lead Pastor, Renaissance Church & NYC Regional Director, Orchard Group

Why Church Planting

Philadelphia, home to Restoration Church

7 Reasons to Back Church Planters:

  1. Reaches new people • Numerous studies have shown that new churches are far more effective at reaching new people than existing churches.
  2. Pays for itself • We plant churches that are designed to reach financial sustainability within a few years.
  3. Invests in others • By its tenth anniversary, the average Orchard Group church plant has invested more outside of itself than it received to get started!
  4. Addresses growing population • Many cities, like Istanbul, are growing by hundreds of people per day. Just to address the growing population, there must be many more churches.
  5. Churches are closing • For decades studies have shown that churches in many places are closing. In the US, for example, an estimated 4,000 churches close their doors every year.
  6. Cities are underchurched • On average across the US, there is one church for every 500 residents. In places like New York City, L.A., or Paris, the figure is closer to one church for every 2,500 people.
  7. It’s by design • Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...” (Matt 28:19). Since Christianity’s beginnings, church planting has been the principal method of outreach. Every church (yours too!) was started by someone. If you’re a Christian, chances are you are the beneficiary of a church planter.

Preparing to Launch

1. Manhattan, Russel and Katie Rader 2. Cincinnati, Chris and Katherine Marlin and Tyler Chernesky 3. Greater Miami, Terrence and Emma Mullings 4. Oakland, Gabe and Kari Garcia 5. Baltimore, Joshua and Ericka Symonette 6. Fairfield County, Charlie and Leslie Welke

Union Square, Manhattan, the neighborhood where Reunion Church is preparing to launch

In the midst of a global pandemic, natural disasters, economic volatility, and political unrest, new churches are coming to communities where they're needed.

  1. Baltimore: 600,000 people, 70% are not affiliated with a church
  2. Fairfield County, CT: 1M people, 85% are not affiliated with a church
  3. Oakland: 450,000 people, 88% not affiliated with a church
  4. Manhattan: One of the most densly populated places, 90% not affiliated with a church
  5. Cincinnati: The Over-The-Rhine neighborhood is one of city's fastest growing, yet with fewer churches per capita
  6. Greater Miami: 5M people, 84% not affiliated with a church

*Local protestant or evangelical church. Sources: The ARDA and U.S. Census

Metrics, 2020

Members of Reunion Church in Manhattan, New York City

Orchard Group Church Plants (2005 and newer)

  • 323 - baptisms
  • $512,000 - COVID relief given to communities
  • $435,000 - Contributions from church plants to church planting

People Reached by Church Plant Age (average)

  • Churches that are 0-5 years-old are reaching 300+
  • Churches that are 6-10 years old are reaching 600+
  • Churches that are 10+ years old are reaching 1100+

Orchard Group

  • $60,000 - COVID grants given to equip church plants to go online and outside
  • 95% - success rate for church plants becoming self-sustaining, governing, and multiplying
  • $3.8M - amount given to church plants

Financial Statement (FY 2019-2020)

It is my desire to preach the gospel where Christ is not yet known. —Romans 15:20

You Can Back Church Planters

City Church OTR (Cincinnati)

You can back church planters and make a difference in cities around the world.

Spread the word



New York City, a region where Orchard Group has started numerous new churches since 1948, including four over the past five years.

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Jamie Larson