In Part 1 we covered three things to line up if you are considering planting a new church. 1. Find funding, 2. Take a team, and 3. Find a mentor. While these things are important for the initial stage of planning, here are some other tips to consider as you move along in the process and are preparing to launch your church.
- Do not let others determine when you are ready for you full-fledged launch of public worship… When should you begin worshipping on Sunday mornings to claim it as God’s time in the lives and hearts of your people? Only you can determine this. However, for your “grand opening,” (the one that you’re advertising and marketing is building toward) my best word is to delay and wait on God’s time. You will feel pressure from your denominational officials, your core group, and probably yourself to launch as soon as absolutely possible, but don’t. It takes time for even the closest team to fully embrace the core values and beliefs that you are trying to convey.
- Practice worship at least one month prior to public launch… Sneak previews can be an awesome way to raise awareness and get the kinks out before you go public. It allows you to work on flow, content, and the “feel” of your worship service. When I say practice I don’t mean do a quick “run through.” I mean conduct a full worship service, perhaps stopping to make notes about what’s missing and what’s needed as you go, including music, message, and any other elements you plan to include. You will gain an appreciation for the space, the limitations of your equipment, and resources while giving people a chance to test it out for you before you invite hundreds of your friends and neighbors through you mailings and outreach events.
- Differentiate between needs and wants… What is an absolute need? Sometimes you won’t know until you start the practice of regular worship services and small groups for a few weeks and you notice something that is glaringly missing. Have somebody keep a pad handy to write down every hitch and glitch so that you can work them out for next time. There should be three levels on your list: essential, needed, and optional. Essential items/resources are things that would be impossible to live without. These might include a place to worship, adequate seating and parking, a basic sound system if you can’t go acoustic, and a safe place for children. Needed are things that would be extremely helpful to have but if necessary you could live without. These items might include a high quality sound system, equipment for your nursery, or promotional materials and signage for your worship location. All of these are needs but can be put in order of priority based upon funding availability. Lastly are the things that are optional like a wireless headset for the pastor or special lighting and set materials. While they would be helpful in creating the environment and atmosphere, you could live without them if need be.
- Only do what only you can do… If you have have a team you should have a group of competent people who can help you in the places where you are weak. I am a horrible administrator. I despise paperwork, making sure I get payroll amounts to the accountant, etc., but I had to do it because I didn’t effectively hand it off. That means it was usually at the last moment. I struggled to get checks cut and paperwork in on time. This also meant that the areas where I was gifted suffered because I was spending valuable time doing things not in my giftedness area. Certainly there are times you have to do things because they have to be done, but I’ve learned that more often than not somebody else can do them, often better, than I could.
Keep an eye out for Part 3 of “Ten Tips from a Struggling Church Planter.” In the meantime share with us some of the problems you ran into as prepared to launch your new church.
Adapted from the blog “Ten Tips from a Failed Church Planter” by Rev. Marty Cauley