Simple Holiday Outreach Ideas for Churches

Here’s a few simple holiday outreach projects that any church, small group, family, or individual can afford. I can testify that these make a big impact with a small investment of time and money.

1. Gift cards for ICU waiting rooms. At any given time in your community there are people reeling from traumatic events or devastating illness. Their families can be found in waiting rooms at your local hospital.

Pick up a handful of gift cards to the closest restaurants and coffee shops, drop by and give them out with a “praying for you” card from your church. Offer to pray for anyone you get to talk with.

This simple act of kindness can breathe life into someone that is overwhelmed with bad news. If no one is there, give them to the nurses desk and they’ll pass them out for you. These nurses could also use prayer and encouragement.

Call ahead and find out when visiting times are so that you know when people are in the waiting rooms.

Cost: $100 for 5-10 gift cards.

 

2. Care packages for the homeless. If you live in a metro area or near the interstate, you probably get an invitation to serve the homeless every day at area red lights. “Should I give them money?” is a constant question.

Few of us carry cash anymore but doing nothing is not desirous for most believers. How about making up some simple care packages with some goodies that that can be passed out the window of a car? Keep 3-5 in your car at all times.

Cost: $10 per bag.

 

3. Christmas decor for nursing home residents. Go to your local nursing home and ask for a list of residents with no local family. The reality for these residents is often few visits if any, few seasonal decorations for their walls, few convenient items like warm socks or lotion.

Offer to pray for them. Find out what they want or need and plan a return visit. Spend some time listening to their story.

Cost: $25 for a few Christmas decorations and simple cards colored by kids.

 

4. Fruit baskets for elderly shut-ins. Local shut-ins are lonely. They often feel trapped. They often have simple to-do’s around their home that can be taken care of in less than an hour.

Making up fruit baskets to deliver to them gives you a reason to encourage them with a visit and find out other needs that your faith community can take care of on their behalf.

Cost:$25 for a bowl or basket & fruit & other goodies to go in them.

 

5. Weatherization for local widows. In every community there are widows and widowers who can no longer take care of simple things like wrapping their pipes or preparing their home for winter.

A great project for the men’s group could be spending one Saturday per year wrapping pipes.

Cost:$100 worth of weatherization supplies.

 

6. Holiday treats for local teachers lounges. We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing.

One way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools is stuffing snack baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, and end of school.

Christmas is a great time for this. Shoot for the week that school is getting out. There’s probably a party going on!

Cost: $50 per Teacher’s lounge.

 

What other similar outreach ideas have you or your church done at Christmas?

What if…

  • Every ICU Patient family got a gift card and a prayer?
  • Every homeless person got a care packet?
  • Every Nursing Home resident had Christmas decorations?
  • Every shut-in got a fruit basket?
  • Every widow had her pipes wrapped for winter?
  • Every teacher’s lounge had holiday treats and a note of encouragement from your church?

Portable Church: Advantages and Objections

A portable church has MANY advantages. I’ve been a part of portable churches for most of my ministry.

Currently about 40% of our church plants in Louisiana are portable. There’s no need to be afraid of going portable in church planting or other ministries. Here’s why:

1. Energy

Energy can be directed outside the walls, because the walls are not ours. In portable situations, the church is usually not responsible for cleaning, managing accounts, and making repairs. We’re able to direct the skills of the people more to the needs of the community.

2. Affordability

The costs of buildings are growing exponentially. In many, not all, communities being portable is better financially for new and transitioning churches. Often the cost of building straps congregations with debt and too small a seating capacity for maximizing growth.

3. Community Engagement

A LifeWay research study called The State of Church Planting showed that new churches that meet in public places experience 42%­49% greater attendance than others. Unchurched people are comfortable attending gatherings in theaters, gyms, banquet rooms, hotels. And the benefit to non­profit locations that churches can gather in is great.

Churches we’ve planted have met in an apartment complex office, a fire station, a YMCA, and a museum. Each greatly benefited from the income of our rent and our church came to see our being there as an investment in the community.

4. Culture

Portable church allows for the ministry to be built on what is most important, especially in critical early years. When you are portable, people attend church due to relationships and mission. The building and space are less likely to become “tails that wag the dog.”

Common Objections:

  • Isn’t that a lot of work? Yes. It takes work to set up every Sunday. But that work involves people rubbing shoulders and elbows together weekly. In my experience setting up church on Sundays brings people together.In my opinion, one of the reasons portable churches meeting in public places have 42%­49% greater attendance is because of the work that requires mobilizing people every weekend.Relationships + Responsibility = a Reason to Return. Churches with few mobilization opportunities limit their capacity for growth. Portable church set up expands mobilization potential.
  • Doesn’t a building signify that you’re a real church? Maybe so. But do you really want a building to define your church. Church should be defined by its disciples, their love for one another, and the church’s ministry in the community. Studies and my own experience show that a portable church can enhance these things.
  • Won’t people get burned out? People tend to get burned out in any situation. The work of the leader is to provide good systems, regular encouragement, and changes of pace to allow people to manage seasons of their lives.Portable churches can setup with great creativity and simplicity – limiting the workload, but still involving greater numbers of people in the ministry of the church.Now, churches do reach a critical mass in attendance and finances where ownership and construction may make better sense. And God often provides building at the right time for the growth of His church.

HOWEVER, there’s no need to be afraid of a portable church.

If you’re thinking about starting a church that may need to be portable or you’re thinking of staying portable, use these questions as a guide:

  • Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me direct energy outside the walls?
  • Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me with engaging community leaders & spheres of influence?
  • Will portable church help establish the culture & vision of this new church for this community?
  • Am I ready to establish teams & mobilize people?

10 Things Pastors of Evangelistic Churches Say

At this year’s Louisiana Baptists Evangelism Conference, I had the opportunity to facilitate a breakout with three men that lead churches with great evangelistic culture in Louisiana.

Jacob Crawford – Life Point, Mansura
Willis Easley – Christ’s Community, Denham Springs
Checkerz Williams – Celebration, LaPlace

These churches are responsible for 100’s of baptisms each year.

They are not mega-churches with endless resources, but churches in hard to reach parts of Louisiana, who have figured out a way to reach new people for Christ in their communities.

We threw out several questions designed to just get them talking, so that we could glean insights and be inspired. These men had never met each other before this conference, but it was interesting to hear how many of the same things came out of their mouths related to creating an evangelistic culture.

Here are some things they said over and over that have stuck with me:

  1. “It’s about casting vision.” Checkerz Williams said he uses the statement “Can you imagine what our community would be like if…?” to get people to see the possibilities.
  2. “We teach people, ‘It’s not about you.'” Willis Easley said at least monthly they tell people to turn to the person next to you and say “It’s not about you.” And interestingly enough the other two churches do the same thing!
  3. “Our church looks like our community.” Life Point is 60% white and 40% African-American, which matches the demographics of the community it is in. Celebration LaPlace is 55% African-American, 35% white and 10% Hispanic, which matches the demographics of the community it is in. Each of these churches are diverse, multi-ethnic churches. A lot of people talk about diversity and multi-ethnic ministry, but what I’m learning is that diversity and multi-ethnic church development is a product of an evangelistic culture.
  4. “We share the Gospel at every gathering.” Each church makes the gospel an important part of every service. Jacob Crawford said, “Never assume that everyone believes. Assume the opposite and share the gospel.” And these leaders go out of the way to share the gospel in ways that are reproducible and easily picked up by others. Willis Easley says, He uses the Roman Road EVERY time he shares the gospel from the pulpit, because it’s easily picked up by others.
  5. “We love people to Christ.” Service and outreach to the community is of course a major part of the ministries of each of these churches. Christ’s Community and Celebration Church both sponsor a big day of service at least annually, where everyone takes on outreach and evangelism projects together.
  6. “We started an additional service to reach more people.” Each of these churches have started multiple services to add capacity for reaching new people for Christ.
  7. “We encourage people to pray for friends that are not believers.” Each of these churches have a system in place for people to identify people in their relational network who are without Christ and pray for them. For Celebration it’s the FRAN list – Friends, Relatives, Associates, Neighbors. For Christ’s Church it’s called the High 5’s.
  8. “We network with community leaders.” Being involved in the community is important to each of these churches. “Building bridges not barriers” – Checkerz Williams.
  9. “We baptize people that become believers quickly.” Baptisms are down across the Southern Baptist Convention, so I was very curious as to what the process these churches have for baptism. Each said they baptize people very soon after they make a decision. Checkerz Williams says their baptistry at Celebration LaPlace is ALWAYS full and ready. Ushers at Life Point show up early and ask every Sunday, “How many do we have today?” in reference to baptisms. Their is an attitude of expectancy in these churches that people will be getting saved, so let’s get ready to baptize them.
  10. “We equip and train members of the church to do the work of evangelism.” It was clear that for these men, their role is to equip the people and groups to do evangelism. So, from modeling, to training, to keying on reproducible processes, the desire is for the entire church to own evangelism of the lost community.

Great conversation. What do you need to add to your vocabulary this year related to your church’s culture? These sayings will be a great start.

Watch the main sessions and get other resources from the Evangelism Conference here.

All The Faces of Louisiana Baptists

We all know that Jesus came to all people, but what are we doing about it?

Here is a simple, attractive, and challenging way to communicate the need for new church plants to reach new people all around Louisiana.

Feel free to reproduce this and use it in your church ministry as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission.

Why Multi-site Church? 6 Benefits

Multi-site church development continues to be a great tool for multiplying and revitalizing churches. A few observations about current multi-site churches among Louisiana Baptists:

  • Those churches have experienced a combined 30% growth in attendance since becoming multi-site.
  • 80% have experienced growth in worship and small groups.
  • Half have included a church merger or gifting of a building from a declining church as part of the multi-site development.
  • Half have requested and received cooperative funding from the Louisiana Baptists Missions & Ministries Team for the new sites.
  • All of them were growing churches before multi-site development, not because of multi-site development.

One of the biggest takeaways: multi-site is not a tool for getting your church to grow, but to multiply your growing DNA to a new community. Dennis Watson, Pastor of Celebration Church in New Orleans, which has 6 campuses and is planning more, gives six benefits of a multi-site campus strategy. Multi-site enables your church to:

  1. Grow larger and smaller at the same time.
  2. Overcome geographic and cultural barriers to reach new people.
  3. Address more community needs and provide more community support.
  4. Involve more people in growth and outreach opportunities.
  5. Staff with generalists and specialists, so that both groups can be utilized.
  6. Provide a new church vibe with a big church punch.

How can our church know if multi-site is in our future:

  • Do you have a vision for church revitalization that may include merging with a declining congregation?
  • Are you running out of space, but do not feel led to build bigger?
  • Has your church been in decline and could possibly be a candidate for merging with a sister congregation?
  • Take this Multi-site Diagnosis Self-assessment (from Geoff Surratt, author of the Multi-Site Church Road Trip). 

Contact one of our Church Planting Strategists to talk about how to start your church multiplication journey.

Follow Up Reading

Interested in learning more about multi-site? Bookmark these great resources.

Does My Community Need a New Church? The Right Questions & Key Indicators

A common question I’m asked as a church planter and strategist is, “Why do we need new churches when we have so many already?”

Stated in other, more direct ways:

  • “We’ve got that area covered already, there’s no need for a new church.”
  • “Planting a new church will make pastors in the area feel unappreciated or like they’re not doing their job.”
  • “Why plant a new church when my church needs so much help?”
  • “Do we really need another ‘little’ church in this area?”
  • “Won’t a new church just take resources from other churches.”

These can be legitimate concerns, when brought with a kingdom mindset, and these concerns should be addressed by strategists and planters in the planning process. Here are a few better questions to help truly assess the need for a new church or ministry in our community:

  1. Is the community being transformed for the good or bad? Instead of starting by looking at ourselves (i.e. the existing churches in the community), maybe we should take a look at what’s happening in the lives of people in the area. Church planting should start with a desire to see the community transformed by the gospel. Is transformation happening as we need it to? Are we willing to admit that the task of transforming our community may be more than one church can handle? Are we committed to life change at all costs? What percentage of our population are actually attending church? What percentage is involved in a small group bible study?
  2. Are there places where the church is not? Flowing out of the first question, what do we find when we look at spheres of influence and places of engagement in the community? Are churches able and willing to engage the local schools? multi-housing complexes? business communities? correctional facilities? chat rooms? neighborhood associations? etc.
  3. Are there population segments or people groups that are not being touched by the Gospel? Next, are there language, socioeconomic, or lifestyle groups that are not being touched adequately by a consistent Gospel witness? Has there been an increase in ethnic groups in our area? What generations of people are missing from our congregations?
  4. What is God stirring in and for this community? God is in the world reconciling people to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). What is He doing in this community in that regard? When our Father’s work includes stirring the heart of an area church to multiply and send out its own to start a new church or launch a new campus or reach out to a population segment, we should not oppose what He is stirring. We can assess if this is a genuine call from God or a call to disgruntlement or if it is born out of divisiveness. We can also hold our planting teams accountable to be agents of transformation not division, focusing on where the church is not and reaching out to unreached peoples.

Many pastors, myself included, tend to think about a new ministry or church through the lens of what it may cost us. What if we thought about it in terms of the great cost to those who may never hear the Gospel, or those who are going through life’s challenges without a family of believers who can love and provide for them along the way? Can we look honestly at our communities and see the need and God’s activity – then partner together to plant for God’s glory and the good of our communities?

Check out the Louisiana Engage Map to research demographic info, locations of current churches, church plants and targets for new churches for communities across Louisiana.

9 Keys to a Successful Church Revitalization

Earlier this year, I got to spend some time with leaders from First Baptist Church West Monroe and The Way Church in Denham Springs to talk about their successful church revitalization endeavors over the last few years.

These are two great scenarios to consider when thinking about church revitalization, especially when it may include church mergers or multi-site development.

The Stories:

Fairbanks Baptist Church in Sterlington, LA, had a history of decline and was struggling to keep systems running in the life of their church. They reached out to First West Baptist Church which accepted the challenge of helping them revitalize. Fairbanks Baptist became First West Fairbanks. A campus pastor was chosen to restart the work. Today, several hundred worship where 3 years ago there were several dozen.

Calvary Baptist Church in Denham Springs, LA, had a history of decline and was struggling to keep systems running in the life of their church. The Way Church was in their third year as a church plant and had baptized over 100 in three years by successfully reaching unchurched young adults in the same community. However, the Way Church was paying very high rent and began looking for other facility options. David Brown, the Associational Director of Missions, connected Calvary and the Way and they began exploring the possibilities of sharing facilities or merging. Calvary officially closed its doors in the Fall of 2014 and the Way took over the property and today several hundred are worshipping each Sunday, where last year there were several dozen.

During a round table discussion with leaders from First West, that included sr. pastor Michael Wood, global mission Pastor Mark Fenn, Fairbanks campus pastor Chad Merrell and leaders from the Way, which included co-pastors Scott Cheatham and Josh Spinks, I wrote down 9 keys to a successful church revitalization that includes merging and multi-site development:

9 Keys to Revitalization

1. Healthy Church Life & Multiplication Happening

Both First West and The Way were growing, multiplying leaders and groups. Healthy systems were in place and functioning at both churches.

2. Healthy Relational Networking Among Churches in the Community

Both First West and The Way are involved in their local associations and these relationships laid a foundation for the development of merger talks. The Way Church had even began hosting a quarterly community worship experience where they first met the pastor of Calvary and conversations were initiated.

3. Realization of Need by Declining Congregation

Both Fairbanks Baptist and Calvary Baptist had reached a point where they were willing to admit their need of help from the outside. For most congregations this will probably come in the form of financial struggles. Many will be faced with a loss of pastoral leadership. But something happens to initiate the idea that help is needed.

4. A Healthy Mediator

In both scenarios a healthy mediator began the conversation of merging. For Fairbanks, a deacon at First West was good friends with some of their leaders and they asked him if First West would be willing to help. For Calvary and the Way, David Brown, the Director of Missions in the area, served as a healthy mediator beginning and walking through the details with the congregations.

5. Everybody Seeking God’s Will & the Good of the Community

There had to be a declaration by all parties that we’re not seeking our own will, but God’s and the good of the lost community around us.

6. Defining Terms

There had to be a moment where hard realities were laid out and hard decisions made. In these scenarios, the older congregations had to come to understand that nothing would stay the same and it was time for their congregations to die that something new may be birthed for the good of the Kingdom.

7. Accepting Responsibility

These transitions WILL NOT be easy or cheap. Both First West and the Way said you can expect it to be costly. Broken systems can create some messy situations with taxes and debt and building needs. Jim Tomberlin with Multisite Solutions says you can expect to pay about $250,000. Both First West and The Way spent that in the transition period.

8. The Right People at the Right Time

Everything rises and falls on leadership. The Way Church was blessed to have Scott Cheatham, who had a business background and knew the right steps to take to raise money, get the property legal, and assure the Calvary faithful few that their church would be in good hands. First West also had a businessman, Chad Merrell, who knew how to build great relationships and solve problems. These were the right people at the right time.

9. Keep the Good, Retire the Bad

Fairbanks Baptist had 70+ kids coming on Wednesday night for a Kids program. Chad Merrell made the healthy decision to keep that ministry going. At the same time, they held services off campus at the high school for a season, to increase their capacity for attendance and build relationships with the community. Moving back to the campus of Fairbanks meant they moved back into the gym, because the worship center was too small.

Merging and multisite are two healthy scenarios for churches in need of revitalization. These 9 characteristics of a healthy transition may help guide you through a process with a partnering church.

 

When We Can’t Go On: Scenarios for a Church in Need of Radical Revitalization

Many churches are experiencing dwindling numbers, changing communities and the need for drastic change. Sometimes the picture gets so dim that the remaining faithful are forced to make hard decisions about the future of their church. Here are three scenarios that can bear fruit for the kingdom when a church can’t go on as it is.

1. Closing the Doors, for Now

All living things have life cycles and we should not see churches as an exception. Closing the doors of the church often is seen as a failure, but it shouldn’t be. In reality, it’s having the courage to recognize that the life cycle of the current ministry has run its course and it’s time for God to use His kingdom resources in a different way. And remember, God sees death differently than we do (Psalm 116:15; John 12:24). With God, death is never final. And when a church decides to close the doors, the resources will be utilized to birth something new and the legacy of the former members who made that hard decision will be alive forever. This may be the best scenario for a church if the area has experienced considerable population decline and the location may no longer be viable for a church.

2. Replanting the Church

Planting a new church is an exciting venture that begins with a church planter and a core group or launch team seeking God’s will, dreaming of reaching new people for Christ and then designing ministry with the community in mind. So replanting would mean taking a step back to core group or launch team phase and re-dreaming and redesigning with a fresh look at how to reach the community. Most likely, one of the reasons for the decline of the church is the lack of fresh vision and ideas for reaching the lost. As church plants often begin with a sending or sponsoring church and infused resources from the denomination and association, there may be opportunity for a replant to develop these partnerships as well. This may be the best scenario for a church that still has some financial means and people who are willing and able to restore the systems of the church with the help of partners.

3. Merging with a Healthy Congregation

The scenario that is gaining the quickest turnaround in Louisiana is the merger of a declining church with a healthy, growing congregation. In this scenario, the church in decline essentially gifts her building(s), assets and autonomy to the growing congregation, who then multiplies their healthy DNA and church systems onto the property. We’ve seen churches with a dozen attenders reaching hundreds within one year as a result of a congregational merger. And, in many cases, remaining members of the declining congregation stay on, faithfully serve and enjoy seeing the fruits of their giving and sacrifices multiplied in fruitful ministry to new generations.

Without a doubt, the decision to move your church toward drastic changes like these will not be easy. Don’t think of it as the end, but as the decision to extend the influence and legacy of your church for future generations. How do we begin the process:

  • Pray and ask God for wisdom and direction as you seek what’s best for the future of your church and community.
  • If you think you may need further assessment of your current needs, contact Keith Manuel with our Evangelism & Church Growth Team about the Reset process and assessment tool – https://louisianabaptists.org/reset-resources.
  • Contact your local Director of Missions for help with next steps, legal issues and potential partners in merging.

5 Things You MUST Do During the First Year of a Church Plant or Restart

There are different strategies & philosophies that go in to what you do in the Pre-Launch phase of a church plant. My purpose is not to give you another in this post, but to tell you what MUST happen along with the strategy you adopt so as not to derail success. I mentioned 5 Things you MUST do before you plant a church here. Here’s my list of 5 Things for the Pre-Launch first phase of a church plant.

1. Build Your Network

Ended here last time, start here this time. Your support network is your lifeline. As a entrepreneurial leader you should ALWAYS be building your network. But in the first year of a church plant your network must expand into the community. Meet with community political leaders, other pastors, school administrators, apartment complex managers, fire & police departments, business owners. Talk to as many people as possible to gather info, share about the church plant, find opportunities to serve & share the gospel. So many sound bites that instilled vision into our church plants came from these types of conversations in our first year.

2. Gather a __________.

Small Group? Yes! Core Group? Yes! Launch Team? Yes! I don’t care how many or what you call it, but GATHER! Somebody said there three keys to church planting: 1) GATHER, 2) GATHER, 3) GATHER. Whatever the strategy or philosophy, it must include gathering people together around the word of God & the mission of God. We started with two gatherings in each of our church plants.

A Discovery Bible Study for seekers & pre-Christians & a Leadership Development Group that went through studies like Experiencing God & The Barnabas Factors. The two groups multiplied & played off of each other culminating in the launch of the new church. If you struggle with gathering people, then get somebody that doesn’t on your team, or expect slow growth, or consider a different role. Gatherings is essential!

3. Make it Sticky.

Our first church plant was in a community with hard soil. Gathering was difficult & slow. I had no experience or coach to help me read success or failure, so I invited a friend with experience planting in pioneer areas to come to a gathering. Afterward I ask him if I should quit & go do something else. He said, “If you quit it will be the stupidest decision you every make, because you can’t get people to sit down & shut up so that you can start & you can’t get people to quit talking & leave afterward so that you can lock up.” He was helping me see the relational stickiness of our gathered group.

Several things that I’ve observed that help make new churches sticky:

  • The Gospel. One of the great miracles of New Testament Christianity was the different people groups that were brought together & unified to make up the body of Christ. It’s still a miracle today. Gather around the Gospel & you can expect supernatural glue.
  • Relationships. I love Ed Stetzer’s quip, “People are not looking for a friendly church, they’re looking for friends.” Don’t get organized & programatic too quickly (or at all if you can help it). Build in lots of time for getting to know people, being vulnerable, & caring for each others needs.
  • Mission & Ministry. Tackle a huge project that everyone can get involved in. Get messy if possible. Celebrate what you did together that you could have not done separately. Mission & ministry create a story.

4. Establish clear lines of communication.

“Without communication, you travel alone” John Maxwell. You must develop a plan for how you’re going to communicate to at least six different groups of people: (1) Support network – including sponsor churches, denominational entities if applicable; (2) Prayer partners; (3) Core Group / Leadership Team; (4) the Unchurched Community; (5) Community Leaders; (6) Disciples in the making.
There has never been better tools available for communication than there are today.

Some that I’ve found helpful:

  • Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Vertical Response
  • Facebook Groups – open & closed
  • Facebook Page for the church
  • Email – don’t neglect regular email b/c people are more apt to reply & create conversation
  • Snail mail – never been easier & more affordable to do direct mail than it is today
  • Personal notes – get some personalized stationary. The more personal the touch, the more personal the follow-up response should be
  • Texting – many Church Management tools will have mass texting tools available

The cliches about communication are true! “You can’t over communicate!” “People are down on what they’re not up on.” And you’ve got a great story to tell, so plan on communicating with intentionality.

5. Start with Integrity.

Don’t wait to establish a framework for integrity in financial, personnel, & other matters of integrity. Don’t mix personal & church finances. Get a partnering church involved in oversight. Seek accountability. Establish job descriptions. In matters of integrity you can’t hope so. You must do all that you can to protect yourself & others from temptation & accusation.

To get started:

  • Open a separate checking account. A partner church might can do this for you at first, but get a separate place from which money can be received & spent.
  • Use a Counting Sheet for donations. Helps keep track of cash & checks & records gifts for year end contribution statements.
  • Get a Cloud based Church Management System. Popular ones are Fellowship One, The City, ACS, Church Community Builder. These are costly but worth it. You sponsor church may allow you to use theirs for awhile. Starting out from scratch they may be overkill. Our new church has used ChurchOfficeOnline.com. Designed with smaller churches in mind. Very functional. And not near as expensive or training intensive.

Design a strategy to reach your community & DON’T NEGLECT these 5 things. What else would you add to this list?

5 Things You MUST do BEFORE You Plant a Church

“I think I want to start a church one day, where do I start or what should I be doing now?”

I get this question a couple of times of month & it’s awesome that so many are interested in church planting these days. Here’s my typical response:

1. Confirm Your Calling

You can’t just “think” you want to start a church, you need to KNOW that this is what you’re called & cut out by the Holy Spirit to do. The best way to confirm calling is to let others do it with you & for you. There are a variety of sources that offer Church Planting Assessments that start online & move to an interview where experienced church planters can help you confirm your make up & call to plant.

Being disgruntled about the church(es) you’re currently attending can be part of a calling, BUT should not be the only part. Planters are shaped by God. Check out my post “You Might Be A Church Planter if…” to see some typical innate qualities of those who plant.

2. Confirm Your Spouse’s Calling

Your spouse will not be the church planter, but she needs to have a sense of calling none the less, b/c so much of the early years of planting a church will encompass your home life. And your call to MARRIAGE, if you are a husband, will ALWAYS supersede your call to plant a church. If your wife is not on board, wait!

3. Deal with the Cracks in Your Character

Church Planting can be like a pressure cooker. The stress & heat of the moments in the beginning of a new church will bring out whatever is in you, good & bad. So, if you’re struggling with addiction, anger, insecurity; church planting will most likely not help you in this struggle. Have a plan that includes accountability, rest, closeness to God, & emergency response by others as you feel pressure rising.

4. Get Equipped

Read, attend church planting conferences, & seek out at least one good school of church planting or Basic Training. Listening to the podcast of a famous church planter is good, but it’s not the training you need to plant a church in a particular context. That planter is successful because of systems that are in place that you’ll never see just simply by listening to a podcast. Find a workshop type training in your area that will help you plan for evangelizing & discipleship in your context.

5. Build Your Network

There are very few “self-made” church planters. To be successful you will need others. Start by seeking out Prayer Partners & do this as soon as possible. Start an E-Newsletter or send personal emails to everyone you know who MIGHT pray for you & be interested in what God’s doing in your life. Let them know what you’re praying about & seek their partnership in prayer. You’ll also need financial partners, on mission partners to be part of your core team, & a network of other planters/coaches/mentors who will advise you along the way.

And one BIG honorable mention:

Consider being part of a church planting team. Nothing prepares you for planting like experiencing it first hand as a team member. If you’re able, find a new church to become a member of for a year & get to know real life church planting. You can use this time to work on the 5 MUST’S. And maybe that church plant will be a big part of your growing network!