Saturday, April 25, 2009

Church Planting

I led a conference at Acts 2 United Methodist Church in Edmund, Oklahoma today. They are a ten year old church looking to plant a new church in the next year or two. I'm excited for them.

I was greatly impressed with their level of discipleship and giving. They are not the biggest church around, but I think you would be hard pressed to find too many churches where people are more committed.

Here is my Top 25 List of Things Mother Churches Need to Know
Before, During, and After Pregnancy
  1. Get a large team who will join the leadership of both churches in praying for strategic and specific matters regarding the mother church, the daughter church, and the combined efforts of both churches. Send out weekly updates to this team. Celebrate wins. Keep high priority items on the top.
  2. Embrace the following premise: Healthy Christians birth healthy Christians. Healthy small groups birth healthy small groups. Healthy churches birth healthy churches.
  3. Embrace that it takes different kinds of churches to reach different kinds of people.
  4. Get ownership from as many people as possible in the mother church. Get buy-in from whoever is left over. If anybody is left over, listen to them and love them, but be faithful to the vision.
  5. Know the target area / population that you are trying to reach. You can’t be all things to all people, but you can be something special to some people. Share this with the denomination and neighboring churches in your denomination.
  6. Don’t forget that life goes on at the mother church. In real life the best way for a mother to care for her baby is care for herself.
  7. Find a church planter. Look for an apostle. Apostolos in the Greek means: one sent forth. If you can’t find one, keep looking. Look for a spiritual entrepreneur. Have the planter assessed. Make sure the planter will thrive in your local area. In addition to denominational and other assessments, do your own. Have the person meet with a life insurance agent or somebody similar in your church. After the conversation, ask the agent if he would hire the person. Invite the pastor to speak at your church. Get a focus group together and ask people if they would likely being willing to follow this person.
  8. Define success and set realistic expectations.
  9. Develop a small group ministry for the daughter church. At first this small group ministry must be outward focused. Develop leaders as fast as you can. Multiply the groups as fast as you can.
  10. Develop a leadership team. Give the planter a “fishing license”. Have a few families that are already informally committed to the leadership team. Have the planter find people from the community as well. Look for at least 12 to 15 families / individuals.
  11. Develop a simple and clear vision for the new church.
  12. Love your city.
  13. Celebrate wins along the way.
  14. Set a launch date for some preview services and the worship launch. Secure a place to worship. Balance being realistic and proactive.
  15. Get ministry team leaders in place. A) Set-up and tear-down, B) Kids, C) Connections (greeting, food and beverage, assimilation), and D) Media / Music / Worship. Find recruiters who can do a little organizing rather than organizers who can do a little recruiting.
  16. Invest and Invite. When you can’t do that, just invite. Figure out ways to make sure that everybody in the target area gets invited to the worship experiences in the first few months. Don’t focus so much on the launch Sunday as much as the weeks and months that follow. Gather people and train / encourage them to gather people.
  17. Act your age
  18. Don’t forget about the second Sunday. And the third one too. Perfect the systems. Develop new leaders. Connect people however you can connect them. Give them ownership. Create a simple culture: invest, invite, and include.
  19. Don’t play the comparison game.
  20. The most important thing for church leaders of any church of any age or size is ethos. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  21. The next most important thing is interpersonal solidarity. People will come back for brilliant teaching or amazing music for a while. They will return to be with their friends for a lifetime.
  22. Don’t forget to laugh. Humor isn’t the opposite of seriousness. Humor is the opposite of despair. It is an expression of joy.
  23. Sell yourself wherever you are. Know who you are, who you are not, and who you are becoming.
  24. Do something for hurting people. Feed the poor, cloth the naked, visit the prisoner, etc…
  25. Return to step #1.

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