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 2: pre-launch milestones
1. Once the planter and location are chosen, recruit other key staff early, about nine months before the launch, so that vision and values for the new church are developed as a leadership team. Meet frequently and bond together as a team. Use various tools to determine your gifts and what complementary skills other ministry partners need to have. Don’t compromise by moving too fast or lowering your standards. This is your first and maybe most important test as a leader of a church planting team. First staff positions that we have considered in addition to lead pastor:
- Arts coordinator (worship leader)
- Teaching pastor
- Student ministry director
2. Recruit other ministry leaders about three months before the launch. Each of these should recruit and lead their own teams.
- Tech coordinator including managing set-up and equipment
- Welcome team coordinator including: ushers, greeters, hosts, and handling offering
- Ministry coordinator (administration, communication, bookkeeping)
- Small groups and discipleship coordinator including visitor follow-up
- Youth ministry coordinator
- Men’s and women’s student ministry leaders
3. Develop a two-year budget from raising support, denominational sources, and sponsoring churches. In our case we supplement the income of the new churches for 18-24 months; after that contributions from members should be enough. We have learned that new churches need more money up front for equipment than we originally projected. Because of this we front-load our contributions, giving a larger amount at the beginning rather than dividing it equally across the twenty-four months.
4. Acquire meeting space about three months before the launch.
- Consider schools, theaters, restaurants, hotels, using another church off-hours
- Consider amount of parking needed, one space for every two seats
- Consider number of extra classrooms needed, normally three to four rooms. Get one room for every ten children expected.
- Consider length of lease… don’t get locked in for too long until you know how big the congregation will be.
- Consider what audio, video, and other equipment is included. In our case these expenses were both high and necessary before the start. Be sure to budget for this and then budget more.
- Consider transportation access. Needs to be easy to find and give directions.
- Consider the reputation of neighborhood, Ok with any associations?
- Consider associations the building has during the rest of the week (e.g. in a Catholic or SDA church, in a bar or shady hotel)
- Consider acquiring office space for church staff so that you can connect with other leaders and staff can have a place to “go to work”. However, remind yourselves that most of the work of starting a new church can’t be done in an office.
5. Start small group ministry about three months before the launch. Originally we thought to start small groups after the launch, but have found that having strong and stable small groups before the launch helps to identify leaders for the church. This makes it easier to incorporate new people in to stable groups after the launch. Begin by training potential small group leaders in the preferred model for a month or two. Then have them begin meeting with their individual groups about a month before launch so they have some stability before adding new people. Provide a common curriculum to create unity among the small groups.
6. Developing critical mass, 80-150 people by the launch date. Rely primarily on word-of-mouth advertising. In order to emphasize that visitors come from invitations from members, don’t do other advertising except a web site. Help people to invite friends by providing a flyer that has church meeting time/place, contact information, and website address.
Brandon, Geoff, Troy, Jeff, Mark, Jeff, Kevin, Paul, DB, Mike, Jeff, Todd or anyone else… What would you add or modify?
See other post in this series: