Earlier this week I posted part one of my top 10 tips for church planters. If you missed it, you can read it by clicking here. Today, I'm sharing part two of this list. I hope these tips can be helpful to anyone out there who's considering planting a church.
6. Build a launch team, not a core team.
This may sound like just a matter of semantics, but it's actually a really big deal. When we built a launch team, that team had one goal: to launch a church. Once the launch was over, the launch team was over. It leveled the playing field for everyone else who showed up on our launch day or afterward. The danger with a core team is that you automatically have insiders and outsiders. The core team continues after launch. So anyone who shows up after you launch is automatically a step behind. Now don't get me wrong, our launch team members are still very active in our church. They lead ministry teams. They serve on ministry teams. They engage the community. They are critical to the life of our church. But they are just part of the church. There's no "us and them." On the other hand, some of our key leaders in our church are people who showed up after we launched.
7. Engage the community before you ever plant the church.
A lot of planters have the "if you build it, they will come" mentality. It's easy to think, "we'll engage the community once we launch." The best thing you can do is engage your community before you ever have a regular church service to attend. It builds trust and credibility with your community. In Fort Wayne, there is a huge race called Fort 4 Fitness. Thousands of people run in this race every year, and the race runs right through the community where we planted our church. So a month and a half before launched, we volunteered to work a major water station for the race. We wore t-shirts, we handed out water and Gatorade, and we cheered louder than any other water station for the runners. A few weeks later we held a "Fall Fest" in the neighborhood for the entire community. We handed out invites to area elementary schools and neighbors. We ended up with around 900 people showing up. We had inflatables, kids games, pumpkins, face painting, free food, and more. It was a blast and it gave us an opportunity to meet our neighbors in a non-threatening way. It's critical to engage your community in positive ways before you ever launch your church.
8. Have a Baby Shower.
You are launching a baby church, so consider having a baby shower. This is one way that we fundraised our launch budget. We listed the items we needed to purchase along with the cost of those items, and then we asked our sending church and others to give to the baby shower. We raised around $75,000 from this one event. The amount of money you raise will be dependent on how invested your sending church is in the plant, how many resources they have to give, and how big your network is outside of that church. This was a very creative way for us to engage people who weren't called to join the launch team but did have a passion for helping us plant the church. You can ask multiple churches to host baby showers for you. You can do it online as well. One of the reasons this is so effective is because people like to give to tangible things. They want to know what their money is going toward. It's part of being a good steward. When you tell someone they can give $500 to help you plant a church, they don't know what that means. But when you tell them they can give you $500 to buy safe flooring for kids to crawl around on during church on Sundays, that is something anyone can get behind.
9. Don't do this alone.
A lot of church planters want to plant a church entirely on their own because they don't want to have strings attached to another church, organization, or denomination. Let me start by saying that I understand why you feel that way. There are risks with being attached to someone else. That's why it's critical that you make sure you are attached to the right people. You have to have unity in vision, alignment, and DNA. More than any other reason, that's why I planted a church with the F.E.C. and Pine Hills. Every planter is going to be wired a little differently in vision and theology. So you have to make sure you are on the same page with the people you are planting with. But the worst thing you could do is plant alone. Listen, church planting is hard. To be completely honest with you, it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. If I was doing this alone I would have given up a long time ago. But having an organization and a sending church behind me, in my corner, rooting me on, supporting me, encouraging me, and helping me along the way has made all the difference. Even with all the risks associated with being attached to another church or organization, it's not near as risky as doing this on your own. So whatever you do, don't do this alone.
10. Pray like you've never prayed before.
Nothing I've said up to this point matters at all if God is not in this. The most dangerous and destructive thing you could ever do is plant a church without prayer. On the other hand, the most powerful thing you can do for your church plant is to pray like you've never prayed before. Pray that God leads you to the right community. Pray for the families in your community. Pray for the schools. Pray for the people of influence. Pray for the broken and hurting people. Pray for wisdom. Pray for favor. Pray for a facility. Pray for the right connections. Pray for resources. Pray for the lost. Pray for the other churches in the community. Pray for people to join your team. Pray for soft hearts. Pray for listening ears. Pray for humility. Pray for courage. Pray for God to move.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV