In 16 years as a pastor, I was a part of planting two successful churches. My most recent experience was in church revitalization, and we did experience some success there, but I still hear get questions about church planting.
The two questions I get asked most:
If you were planting another church…
What would you do differently?
What would you do the same?
Those are great questions, because the first few times I had to answer them it made me think through some of our best practices and some of the mistakes we made along the way (and we made plenty).
So, here are my answers.
Would I would do the same:
Utilize the power of “caged momentum”
If I were planting a church again, I would be afraid to make people wait. I would make the core team wait to launch until we were ready. Additionally, I would make people wait for programs until we were ready to launch them. For example, we made people wait to join a small group until we had our process and leaders in place. If necessary, I would make the students wait for a student service until leaders were in place.
Whatever the ministry, I would not rush to have it in place until we had things as planned as possible. You want everything to launch with excellence and that takes time to build. Of course, there is also the principle of missing an opportunity, so there is a balancing act to be played here, but the power of caged momentum cannot be dismissed. I would use it again. I wrote more about that principle HERE.
Look for holy discontent
We did and I would still look for people to help launch the church who have a strong desire for something more in their spiritual life, but who haven’t been able to find it. I wrote about that HERE.
Give my vision away
I would not be the only person with vision in the church. Instead, I would give others ownership in the plant. I would let others help decide how we do children’s ministry or what we do to serve our community, for example. The more people feel ownership in their work the more they’ll be motivated to do. I wrote about that HERE
What I would do differently:
I wouldn’t shy away from churched people
To stay true to our mission of reaching the unchurched, and so as not to offend other churches, we tended to “run” from those who already attended another church. In the process, we injured some people who were also sensing God doing something in their life. We also made ourselves very leadership poor and could have used more experienced help. I wrote about that HERE.
Build structure in early
In an effort not to be bound by traditions and organizational bureaucracy, we had little formal structure when we began. As we grew adding structure became unavoidable to prevent chaos. In the process, we learned it is much more difficult to add structure once an organization is established.
Instead, I would intentionally lead us to add needed structure early. Of course, you can do this in a way that still allows for continual growth. You can read more about that HERE.
Not be afraid to challenge people
I would not shy away from challenging people to higher standards in their personal life, even while trying to reach people who may be new to their faith. We learned that people want and need to be challenged, along with feeling loved, accepted, and valued. You can read more about that HERE.
Have you ever helped plant a church? What are some things you would or wouldn’t do again?