Recently, a friend of mine began to plant a church in a city 700 miles away from his current church where he knew no one. He is either really brave or incredibly oblivious. He has read most of the books, investigated many planting models, and planted a successful church before.
However, his first plant was much simpler. It was close to home, and a core team came with him from his home church. It was a lot of fun, felt more like play than work and impacted a lot of people. For some reason, God called him to something new and it’s stretching him a little out of his usual boundaries.
This church plant will be very different. It involves a greater transition: selling his house, finding a new home, moving his family, getting his kids into good schools, making new friends and learning a new city. While he is still excited, he’s also stepping into the unknown.
This move will test his limits, but still, he feels like God has called him to this work, and a team is forming around him.
From watching these organizations grow, it’s clear to see what works and propels a new church plant into fruition. Growth excites people, but growth can also hurt in the short-term. It stretches people and systems. Leaders have to decrease their direct control and increase their communication.
I’ve seen growth stretch church leaders and force them to create scalable systems that work in different campus locations and sizes. Nothing stretches a church leadership team like planting and maintaining a new church.
If you’re thinking about planting a new church, here are some tips that help carry out your mission to serve your community with strong ministry values.
Keep the vision clear.
Nothing stalls church growth like vision drift. Make it so clear and compelling that it works and inspires all people in each context. Be transparent with your leadership team and your newly founded congregation. Make sure all events, fundraisers, communications and the like tie back into your ministry’s vision. You’ve been called here to serve for a greater purpose; your new church will guide you there.
Don’t assume you’ve said anything clear enough or too often. The more you share, the more value you deliver. Make your communications count. Be active on social for your new members to see your footprint. Keep your new congregation connected by sending out weekly newsletters about what’s to come.
Leverage your ChMS; become one with technology.
Monitor your church’s health by setting up, measuring and reporting on your church data. Define the metrics that show your church’s health. Use your ChMS to both “speak to” and “listen to” your members. Your church is only as strong as its members so make sure you’re receiving their input and making this process of joining your church simple.
Perform physicals not autopsies.
Monitor and review attendance, visitors, salvations, first time givers, regular givers, pledges, small groups, and involvement data often to make corrections and innovations before it’s too late. If you start tracking early on, you’ll be able to make adjustments sooner rather than later. The health of your church is important when setting up a new church, and in the later days. Start off strong.
Celebrate each other.
Planting a new church takes a lot of tender, love and care. Celebrate your feats and those that are helping tackle this process. Share them in your messages and create a culture of shared experience.
Another major key to a growing church is reaching young families. This is a lot easier said than done. However, there are some steps that church leadership can make in this area to engaging families with young children. Most moms and dads with young children are looking for a place for their kids to learn about God and connect with other families who are at a similar stage of life.
Children need to be exposed to church and the teachings of God at a young age. This foundation sets the stage for major strides in spiritual development as they begin to understand who God is and their need for Him. So what steps can the church make to reach these goals?
Here are a few ideas to consider when trying to engage pre-school children and invest in these young families:
The preschool ministry must plan events on a regular basis.Time spent together is very important to establishing a viable ministry and building a strong base. These events are often whole family events, which is great.
One of the best ministries associated with preschoolers is a “Mothers morning out” ministry. This is a time where church workers or volunteers take care of the children while moms get out and do some things for them. This is usually held for a couple of hours in the morning one or two days a week and is major blessing to the stressed out mom who needs some time for herself.
Kids Night Out is another awesome idea to push bedtimes back and entertain kids for the evening. Lots of possibilities here including, renting an indoor sports center, gym, or using any large space for kids to expend some energy.
Group play dates sponsored by the church are another excellent way to connect families together. These can be loosely planned and held at a playground, a community pool, or even at the church.
These are all great ideas, but the church leadership needs to be prepared for new families. There must be a plan to engage them and build connections to others and the overall church ministry. Practical steps should be made to get their contact information and communicate with them quickly after an event.
Lastly, remember the overall purpose of a preschool ministry is to love on these children and point them to Christ. The results of this may not be seen until a child moves into the next phase of ministry in the elementary years, but the seed will have been planted. Try to end each event with some food for thought for the children that parents can utilize and discuss at home after the event is over. As churches learn to partner with the young parent bonds are tightened, relationships are strengthened and God is honored.
A church planter may not have any connections, only a little money, and faith that seems like it’s running out; but a church planter always has a story, and stories win hearts. Church growth stands and falls on the backs of those God calls for and gifts for the ministry. Catch them with a compelling vision and release them to serve.