September 21, 2007

5 Pieces of Advice When Considering Church Planting

Recently a friend e-mailed me asking advice about church planting. He and his wife are looking at eventually planting a church. I told him that a lot of my thoughts on church planting were here on this blog, but on a more philosophical (?) level I offered the following five:

1. Be called. This means you are willing to plant in that area even if you received no financial support. Because the reality is that any support you receive will run out quickly. This may also require finding a second job in order to accomplish the dream God has given you.

It also means that you know God wants you to do it because church planting will beat you up some days. It is not easier than "regular" pastoring. (In fact, it isn't tougher either they are just different.) It isn't some place you should go because you want to get away from the trouble people; trouble people flock to new churches. You need to know that God wants you to plant the church.

2. Have a mentor. Not just a pastor with experience, but one with experience reaching the lost and starting new congregations. There is a big difference between someone who reaches lost people, and someone who does it with a new church. There is also a difference between a mentor and someone who is your "superior." Mentors are friends with experience. They listen to your frustrations, but also kick you in the butt when you need it.

3. Have a team. Recruit people who buy-in to your vision, and have a call to ministry. This is more than just a core team or pool of volunteers. You need someone who bleeds this stuff with you. If you can't get someone, then the next best thing is a group who have bought into the vision and are willing to work. It is VERY difficult to do this alone.

4. Find your niche. You can't be all things to all people. You have to be willing to take a stand for a few things. When I start the new church I am going to have only 3 priorities: Outreach, the Sunday morning experience, and small groups. Those encompass more than just 3 things, but they are the primary ways you will grow and sustain your church.

But people will ask about youth programs, women's groups, prayer programs, etc. I use the imagery of a plant. You have to have a strong root and tree system before the limbs and leaves are able to survive and flourish. Focus on what you need to do to build a healthy functioning root system (church), and then start stretching out the vines (ministries).

5. Take care of yourself. Spend time with your family, exercise, rest, relax, get someone to preach for you every few months, etc. You are not what holds it all together; God is. You have to work hard, but you also have to rest and recharge.

What other advice would you give to someone planting a new church?


  1. Have your vision in writing, give it to your primary staff (paid or volunteer) before you plant and make sure they line up with it from the beginning.

    And something I learned the hard way... make SURE everyone knows the REASON for this plant, and has the same vision. Otherwise 4 months down the road everyone is trying to change things to what they see (or trying to get you to change your vision to fit yours).

    Also, trust your people. In the beginning you will have to do some level of controlling everything... but if you can't leave people to do their job and trust them to do it, they will leave.

  2. i like your book list.
    church planting is an interesting concept to me. i may expound in a post today or tomorrow.

  3. Eric,
    Good to hear from you. I found you through BlogRush. I graduated MVNU in 2002 then youth pastored for 4 years and am back at MVNU as resident director for Oakwood. When did you attend hear? Maybe we know or know of each other??