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Church Planting 201

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In my last post church planting 101, I wrote about some of the basics that I have seen work and some that have failed miserably. In this post I want to talk more about what is required in the church planter himself.

In church planting we need Holy Spirit power, sound and practical theology, future planning, church promotion and quality support to make the church plant into a viable and sustainable church. On top of that, a successful church plant needs a legit leader, this is a must.

About ten years ago, I was asked to help a guy start a church in California. He had financial backing, he had front man skills, was a decent speaker…but was an awful leader. Needless to say, the dude quit the plant less than 5 months into it. I didn’t join the team and that church plant fizzled into non-existence.

Now while there are many reasons why the plant didn’t succeed, the biggest reason was that the dude wasn’t a church planter or leader…he was just a guy who wanted to preach on Sunday. Preaching on Sunday is the cherry on the cake, it’s easy. You read, you prepare, you pray, you practice your delivery, you make programs and keynotes, you wake up Sunday and deliver it. It’s simple.

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Church planting is much more complex than just giving a sermon. You are a small business entrepreneur. You are a janitor. You are a counselor. You must become affluent with promotion and fundraising. You will need to understand your demograph and know how to connect with your city. You need to be trustworthy and reliable. You must be a general and also a humble servant. You must learn how to handle extensively troubled people and also learn how to help them without losing your mind. It’s complex.

A church planter must become more than just one dimensional.

I’ve seen plants fail because planters were too one sided. You’re not just a preacher, you are a pastor. You’re not just a speaker, you are a house call medic. You will need to learn when to say no, and when to say yes. You must start thinking like a theologian and living like a missionary. Church planting isn’t done on the side, it takes more than you think and demands your attention. It’s deep.

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As we launch out this year to start two more churches in the Detroit area, there are a few points that our Leadership Team at City Church has been stressing with our guys as we go forward in church planting. I pray they help you in your journey. This list obviously isn’t everything you need, but we see them as the basics needed to start a successful church plant. Some of these keys can be taught, others cannot, if you are planter you should know the difference.

  •  Passion. The church planter must have a passion for the area God has called him to. A burden and desire to plant a gospel center is a must. If a boxer doesn’t have a passion to fight, he will get cold feet when he enters the ring. The apostle Paul had a passion for lost people to meet Jesus. John the Baptist had a passion for the hearers to repent. The apostle John had a passion for the Jewish community to learn of Jesus. This passion will keep you up, help you up, prop you up and can only be fueled by God. Either you have it or you don’t.
  • Theology. The church planter had better know the book. Seminary isn’t a mandatory, but it should be. How stupid is it for someone to want to be a pro baseball player, but doesn’t know what a balk is? It’s ludicrous that some guys want to plant but can’t articulate their faith in a short conversation. Read books. Take some classes. Learn.
  • Entrepeneur. Have you ever started anything from scratch that has lasted? Ever run a lemonade stand? Have you ever coached little league? Have you ever managed a store? Have you ever opened and closed a business? I just described to you what a church planter does. When you start, most likely you have very little to start with. In the early months you will attract people with problems, lots of problems and mostly baby Christians. You will learn to answer questions about concenrs you never thought of before. You will have to balance bills, projects, materials, personnel and quality control.
  •  Fundraising. News flash: church planting cost money. So after you call mom and ask your neighbors for money, you had better have a financial plan to help start your gospel center or else you are done in 3 months. Think about it like this: why should anyone give you money to help you start a church? If you can’t answer it with a thought through financial plan, then you have some homework.
  • Community. Loners can make great people, but not always great leaders. Can you find 3 to 5 people that would drop everything to help you? If not, you might not have impacted others lives as much as you think you have. You don’t go to war with just anyone. The same is true in church planting. You need seasoned veterans on your team and people that will go to bat for you, with you and at you. I’m sorry guys, the days of just doing it yourself are over. Odds are against you already, work on being friendly and make a difference in your close circle…then tackle the circle of church planting.
  • Home. There is no off switch to church planting, but you had better have a safe zone with some backup. If your family isn’t on board, do something else. Church planting, like pastoring, requires a balanced life which includes the home. Your marriage will be tested, your kids will be put on display and your life is now a book for others to judge. How do you expect to give marriage counseling if your marriage is a wreck? How can you get up on Sunday and teach on raising your kids if they are burning your house down? You can you preach on trusting God in your life if you don’t want to go home? Balance guys.

There are exceptions to rules, but church planters shouldn’t be looking for them. Work on personal growth, family development, spiritual leadership, theological soundness, business savvy and developing loyalty. I can’t promise you that if you do all of this you’ll succeed, but I can promise you that without it…you will fail.

-jon

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Church Planting 101 (For Leaders)

Church Planting 101

City Church Canton

For as long as I can remember I have been involved in the ministry in some capacity, especially church planting. As a kid, I grew up in it. My dad was a church planter and from an early age I can remember setting up chairs, passing out invites and entertaining other people’s kids while my parents talked to them. Then in college I was apart of two different teams that helped launch churches in California. Now I find myself as an adult (some would argue that) doing the same thing…starting churches.

I have been apart of so many first days and launches that my mind gets fuzzy remembering them all. I say all that to tell you, I am not an expert nor am I telling you what to do, but rather wanting to put down what I have seen work and not work in my own experiences. Enjoy!

Note: This isn’t comprehensive and it is not a book. Just a few thoughts on the basics of church planting so please don’t send me hate-mail. 

What Works:

  • Teams that have a clear vision and planned timeline for the immediate and long term future. (I have been apart of teams as a kid, intern, assistant, pastor and planter. There must be a plan not just for the day of the launch but for a year after the launch. Have a detailed thought out process on what you want and what you don’t want.)
  • Slow sell soft services (this is where you don’t blow up with lots of people but rather take your time and organically grow the church over a period of time in anticipation of a launch day. Currently we are doing this in Canton. Instead of trying to pack out our small building every week, we are trying to grow the leaders we have there and develop a team so that when we get more people we are ready for them. I’ve been apart of a plant in college where a lot of people showed up and we all celebrated but we weren’t ready for that many people and didn’t know how to assimilate them. We never saw many of them again.)
  • Community Day Events, Block Parties, Life Group Dinners, Kids Bounce Houses and Giveaways. (This is huge for me, church needs to be fun and family oriented. Have a carnival day and be Disney World to your community.)
  • Concerts, Great Bands/Artists, Clear programs and clean print media. (JW’s come door knocking with nice full color handouts, why are you handing out those cheap homemade flyers? Now, I know that I have too have been short on money and used cheap handouts but if its cheap it will get thrown away. Find a way, use good print materials.)

City Church West Campus

What Doesn’t Work: 

  • Special Guest speakers on launch day. (It’s the big day for your church plant, your church needs to see a face that they will see again the next week. The problem I have seen with special guests speakers on a launch day is that people might come to hear someone they know but they won’t stay. The goal of a launch day shouldn’t be just to get a large crowd, but should be for retention.)
  • Being culturally irrelevant to your community. (I was apart of a plant where the community was very poor but the church plant was very classy. It just seemed out of place. I am all for everything being professional, but don’t launch a “Starbucks church” next to homeless people that need blankets and food. Be relevant to your community, not relevant to where you came from or your previous church.)
  • Rambo-style church planting. (You are not that great, sorry to bust your bubble. Call your mom if you want applause, you need people around you that will say no. You need help and others to make the wagon go and keep going. I have seen plants personally fail in my zip code because they did it on their own. If you are going to plant a church, you had better talk to the pastors in the community to see what the needs are and to get a feel for whats working and whats not working. Don’t just ask pastors that are like you, ask some small and large churches and even some of a different faith. Talk to the missions/chapels in the area. Don’t just show up and proclaim yourself “fixing” their city.)

City Church Food Drive

Now while the goal of church planting should be basically understood and appreciated, I have come to see that some don’t fully grasp it. The goal of church planting should be to start gospel centers that help start other gospel centers of Jesus believers and disciples that help their community. Existing churches don’t exist to get bigger, they exist to help the great commission get accomplished. We should be for multiplying churches rather than just increasing numbers in one specific church.

The church is a group of people who come together to worship Jesus, preach the gospel and help those in need.

Jon & Keiki Jackson at City Church West Campus

 

Currently, we are starting two churches and am planning three more launches for next year. My prayer for Detroit is gospel centers that make a real impact in the community and not just have a bunch of church people show up on the weekend. So whatever you do, don’t quit. If God called you to help people, then suck it up, get some help and keep on pushing. Church planting (like starting a small business) might be a science and it is certainly difficult and tough, but for you to succeed it at…#push.

-jon 

Here are some great books to read on the subject:

  • Planting Missional Churches – Ed Stetzer
  • Launch: Starting a New Church From Scratch
  • Church Planter: Darren Patrick

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