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 3: Launching the church–the first public worship service
- After Labor Day is the most common starting date. For many families, this is the time new schedules are being formed for the year and people are locked into an area because they schedule their moves and vacations around the school calendar.
- At Easter. The advantage of starting at Easter is so the church can launch some ministries early then, in the fall when school starts, launch others. For example, church leadership can focus on starting large group worship services and small groups at Easter and in the fall start the college ministry or expand to youth and children’s ministry. This approach may be best for a smaller staff team that can’t launch everything at once.
- Growth will probably be uneven and unexpected, attendance may drop 30-50% from initial launch.
- Focus on the main things: quality worship services and small groups. Be willing to resist pressure to expand ministries too soon.
- At the start, continue to rely on your coaches, interim elder team, and other partners. They will provide valuable outside feedback and advice.
- When new people begin to get involved, resist the temptation to focus primarily on them and neglect reaching out to new people.