Next month, our church is planning to sponsor our forth church-start in as many years. They are Westwind Church (2008), Veritas Church (2010), New Heights Church (2012), and Cornerstone Church of Ankeny (September 2012). Each one has a similar style and model of church life but with slightly varying approaches. Together, these new churches represent nearly 1000 worshippers gathering weekly. It’s time to stop and reflect on some of the lessons learned, however, some of th0se lessons won’t apply to other church starting models. This series will have five posts for church planters and five for sponsoring churches.
Five lessons for Church Planters… Lesson 1: before you start (four more posts coming in the next few days)
1. Make sure you are confident that you want to be a church planter. One such person told me that if anyone says he wants to be a church planter, he should be talked out of it. If he can be talked out of it, he doesn’t have the perseverance needed to be a church planter. See post on “getting called”.
2. Carefully choose a coach/sponsoring church. You’ll need someone who believes in you, offers encouragement, and gives advice when needed. You’ll find that you need honest, not necessarily supportive, feedback on your ideas. Look for someone who knows you and ministry in general and someone who knows church planting. The sponsoring church may also offer an interim elder team to help make big decisions. The coach should be part of this team.
3. Make sure your wife is 100% supportive of the church plant. Church planting is hard work. It is stressful on your marriage. If your wife isn’t 100% on-board from the beginning, you should delay until she gets there or very close to it.
4. Plan on being on a team. If you aren’t very good at working with other people on a team, you should not plan on the church having more than fifty people. A leader’s role is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, not to be the center of the ministry.
5. Make sure you are a good match for the location. Just because an area or population segment is unreached doesn’t mean that you are the right person to start a church among that people group. Normally, the right group to reach is the one that is most similar to your own. Some people have the gifting and cross-cultural aptitude to learn a new culture and become an acceptable and influential outsider within the group. Don’t just assume this is you.
6. Have a plan that makes sense. This should go without saying, but I’ve seen some plans that can’t work from the beginning. One is a plan to “launch large” with a planter who never started a church and was on his second year of recruiting a 70+ member launch team. Good thing his wife has a good job, because I don’t think he’ll ever launch. Another is for a planter to simply move to a community on his own without knowing anyone, meet neighbors, evangelize, eventually start a Bible study, and then, somehow, expect to rapidly grow into a church that is large enough to support him. Both of these plans are choosing to make starting a church harder than it needs to be. A solid coach and sponsoring church will help you to develop a sound strategy. If it is really hard to get people to support you, maybe you need to revise your plan.
Brandon, Geoff, Troy, Jeff, Mark, Jeff, Kevin, Paul, DB, Mike, Jeff, Todd or anyone else… What would you add or modify?
See other posts in this series: