Recently when I was in a room full of pastors, we did an exercise where we were asked to develop a church planting strategy for a specific neighborhood. The objective was to learn to customize the church planting strategy to the specific neighborhood’s profile.
One pastor suggested that we create an after-school program for children in an apartment complex. Someone mentioned a service to provide single mom’s changes of oil for their cars. Another idea was to find those who don’t know English and offer conversational English classes. The pastors developed a long list of ideas to meet practical needs of the poor in the neighborhood.
What were three strategic issues that the pastors overlooked?
Issue #1: Starting with the right initial core group.
The first strategic issue in church planting is developing a core group. Yes, the mission of the church is to serve the needy in their communities; however, when starting a new church, it is an unnecessary uphill battle to attempt to build the church on the foundation of those in the most need. They are often the most distant from being ready to lead in a church and have the capacity to serve others.
It is better to start with a solid core of spiritually mature people united together around God’s Word, worship, fellowship and then begin actively serving in the community. Of course, serving the needy is an important element of developing a healthy core of believers and the church in general, but reversing this order by focusing on the most needy without a solid core of believers will likely slow down the formation of the church. In fact, by initially focusing on the needy, fewer needy will be helped because the church start will likely be stunted. A key in church starting is to start with a healthy core. A key in meeting community needs is a healthy church. Let’s get the order correct.
Tomorrow’s, Issue #2: Targeting people that naturally relates to the core group.