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!

10 Biblical & Practical Ways to Get Involved in Church Planting Today

There’s no right or wrong way to support church planting & multiplication in Louisiana & beyond. Don’t let failure of imagination or the excuse, “I don’t know how,” keep you and your church from engaging the lost through church planting and multiplication.

Here’s 10 Biblical & practical ways to get involved IMMEDIATELY:

  • Engage in strategic intercessory prayer for a church plant – Colossians 4:2-3.
  • Adopt a church planter and his family – Philippians 4:14-15.
  • Contribute to the financial needs of a church plant – Acts 11:29.
  • Provide materials and equipment for a new church – Acts 11:30.
  • Share your campus facilities or equipment with a new church – Acts 3:6.
  • Serve on a church planting mission trip – Acts 12:25.
  • Discover unreached or under-reached people in your community – Matthew 28:19.
  • Start an outreach Bible study that could become a new church – Acts 16:32.
  • Send people and families to help a church get off the ground – Acts 13:2-3.
  • Mentor & Encourage Church Planting leaders – Philippians 2:22.

Contact our Church Planting Strategists to start planning your Church Multiplication journey. Also, find a list of current church plants receiving cooperative funding in Louisiana.

View list of Louisiana Baptist Church Plants

Your Church Can Be a PARENT to a New Church or Campus

Reaching Louisiana and North America for Christ is too big a task for one church to handle. New Church Multiplication is one of the best ways for us to work the fields to the edges. And EVERY CHURCH can get involved. How? The sky is the limit. There is no right or wrong way to support church planting. The question is, How big of a commitment are you willing to make?

In the previous post in this series we’ve talked about how to ENCOURAGE Church Planting and Planters and how to be a church planting PARTNER / SPONSOR. A deeper level of commitment will be to become the PARENT or primary sponsor for a Church Plant.

Part 3: Every Church can PARENT a New Church to Maturity

At this level, here’s the question: Is God calling our church to multiply and send out from our membership to plant a new church or campus? To multiply at this level you should go about it with the same veracity as you would with a new building project or capital campaign, utilizing all avenues of communication for a sustained period of time to cast the vision for becoming a Parent. During a building campaign, the last thing you want to hear from a member of the church is, “I’m not sure why we need a new building.” You work hard to get everyone on the same page through sermon series, letters, special web pages, banquets, personal testimonies, visual displays throughout the building, commitment Sunday’s, personal home visits, and more. If planting a new church in North America with momentum and a great potential for survivability is our goal, we should want every member to be on board and to do away with some anti-multiplication slogans – “I don’t see why we need a new church” or “Those people can just come to church here” or “Sending out people will hurt our church.” Here are a few ideas to prepare your church for off-campus multiplication:

  1. Answer the call from God to reproduce through off-campus multiplication. Ask, did we hear from God or from our local Associational or Denominational leader? Also ask, did we hear from God or are we just doing this because another church in our area is doing it? This type of endeavor requires a vision from God that will be owned by your church and its leadership.
  2. Bring a Minister of Missions and Multiplication or Church Planter on staff. Part of this person’s job description should be to cultivate congregation and community for a new church. Devise a strategy that will allow the congregation to see him as an insider and whereby he can build trust with the people. Allow him to have regular pulpit opportunities, write newsletter articles, attend staff meetings, etc. Buy in and trust are so important if you want this to move quickly, so maybe this person is already on your staff or has a relationship with your church that makes them insiders.
  3. Prepare a Message series on Multiplication and Church Planting. The Book of Acts may be a good place to start. Bring the series to a close with an invitation to be part of a planting team or to help with the new church in some tangible way. One church devised dozens of ways that every member could be involved starting with things like prayer and making cookies for a block party, ending with the invitation to join the Leadership Team of a new church for two years.
  4. Send Out Leaders for the Work of Multiplication. In Acts 13, the church at Antioch sent out no other than the Apostle Paul and his chosen associate Barnabas. Don’t hold back anyone that may sense a call from God to go. And encourage them to make at least a one-year commitment of time, talent, & tithe to the work of the new church or campus.
  5. Make a long-term commitment to the development of the new church or campus. Parenting is the best description for this extensive role in expanding the kingdom. Parents nurture, train, discipline, encourage, and celebrate all the child does. Take that role with the church plant. If done in the right way and in God’s time, I promise they want remain with you for 18 years. With quality cultivation, team building, and great parenting, it won’t be long before your church will be a GRANDPARENT! And then we are well on our way to a Multiplication movement.

Contact the LBC Church Planting Team for more information on church planting, for assistance devising your church’s church planting strategy, or to make connections with church planters and church planting training around Louisiana.

Every Church can Be a Church Planting Partner

Reaching Louisiana and North America for Christ is too big a task for one church to handle. New Church Multiplication is one of the best ways for us to work the fields to the edges. And EVERY CHURCH can get involved. How? The sky’s the limit. There is no right or wrong way to support church planting. The question is, How big of a commitment are you willing to make?

In our last post we talked about how every church can ENCOURAGE Church Planting by being a friend and prayer partner to those starting churches and through Southern Baptist cooperative missions giving. A second and more direct commitment that your church can make is to be a church planting partner or sponsor.

Part 2: Every Church can Be a Church Planting PARTNER

If your church is ready to be engaged in off-campus multiplication directly, investing financially & tangibly in a local church plant or church planter is a great next step. It also is a great way to help your church see their community as a mission field and multiply your impact in the world for Christ. A few ideas for partnering and sponsoring are:

  1. Become a financial co-sponsor.
    Some churches have been blessed by putting church planting in their budget directly on top of regular gifts to the Cooperative Program and annual Cooperative Missions Offerings. Most of the co-sponsors for the churches I’ve planted have been between $50 and $200 per month. Some have given a one-time gift. It takes money to minister in North America and a financial contribution encourages the planter and communicates commitment to the Great Commission.
  2. Adopt a church plant for your VBS offering.
    The kids will love the story about a church that meets in a Fire Station or Rodeo Arena or Move Theater and baptizes in a swimming pool. And it may plant seeds in their hearts that will lead them into a career on mission. One church in my region collected children’s ministry supplies for a church plant and five years later they were still using the construction paper and supplies received during that week.
  3. Conduct a local or national mission trip to assist a church plant in outreach efforts.
    You can travel to a neighboring city or state or to the other side of town to assist with block parties, door to door work, servant evangelism, etc. Recently, I heard of a church that put together a team to take care of an area church plant’s Sunday morning setup for one month, just to give the planting team a break and to be a blessing to the new church.
  4. Give your cold prospect list to a church planting team.
    One of our sponsors gave our church plant a list of over 250 names that had only attended occasional events at the church or had not attended in a great while. We were able to contact those folks again and invite them to the new church. You never know if a new church may be the tool for harvesting people you’ve cultivated and watered for years.
  5. Invite a church planter to attend conferences with you and your staff.
    Most church planters have followed a call and are choosing to live paycheck to paycheck and do not have the funds for conferences. Invite them to go with you. Offer to pay part of the way or challenge your church to pay their way. Pay or not, invite them along to learn with and from you and your team.
  6. Sponsor a date night for a church planter and his spouse.
    Research is showing that church planting families are under great stress. There’s very little money and time for unwinding and recharging. In a difficult season of our first church plant, a church in another state invited my wife and I to spend three days in their area, put us up in a nice hotel, and left a gift basket full of gift cards to area restaurants and attractions. Priceless, simple gift that served to rescue us from a season of discouragement and burn out.
  7. Offer your office equipment to a church plant.
    Allow a church planter to make copies, send faxes, and cut post cards. A minimal expense that will meet a huge need for a guy that offices out of a coffee shop, spare bedroom, or garage.
  8. Offer your facilities to a church plant.
    Church plants have used facilities of other churches for core group meetings, leadership meetings, Worship Services, Thanksgiving Banquets, and housing for short-term mission teams. Extend the usefulness of your facility to expanding God’s kingdom through church multiplication by simply saying yes or being inviting to a church plant.

Contact the Louisiana Baptists Church Planting Team for more information on church planting, for assistance devising your church planting strategy, or to make connections with church planters and church planting training around Louisiana.

Every Church Can ENCOURAGE Church Planting and Multiplication

Reaching Louisiana and North America for Christ is too big a task for one church to handle. New Church Multiplication is one of the best ways for us to work the fields to the edges. And EVERY CHURCH can get involved. How? The sky is the limit. There is no right or wrong way to support church planting. The question is, How big of a commitment are you willing to make?

Over the next few weeks we’ll share three levels of commitment that excludes no church from involvement. Every Church can Encourage, Partner, and/or Parent a new church. Under each commitment there are some simple ideas and scenarios to help you get started.

Part 1: Every Church can ENCOURAGE Church Planting

Church Planting is a difficult, lonely task, filled with uncertainty and vulnerability. You and your church can strengthen and encourage a church plant, as well as demonstrate a kingdom mindset, by reaching out a hand of friendship.

This can be done with little or no expense to you and your church.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Put a church planter on your weekly prayer list. The real battle against the kingdom of darkness is free through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. As your church prays for the lost to be saved, take the new church and planter to the throne of God as they reach out to the unchurched in your community.
  2. Buy a church planter a cup of coffee and ask him how it’s going and offer him your insights about the community. Ask him about his family. Demonstrate a desire to see the church succeed. If you don’t have a desire to see him succeed, then repent and get over the idea that your church can reach everybody in the community. Also, encourage the women’s ministry to remember the church planter’s spouse and support her when possible. Just simply treat them as you would want to be treated. Seems like I saw that principle written in red somewhere.
  3. Invite a church planter to share during your Wednesday night prayer meeting, to Sunday School classes, or to promote special missions offerings. Exposing your church to the story of God’s work in your community will benefit the church by opening their eyes to needs in their Jerusalem and Judea. You could also do Skype interviews with Church Planters in different parts of Louisiana or North America as part of Mission Moments or special missions services. These opportunities are a win-win, giving your church a heart for the world and encouraging church planters along their journey.
  4. Support the Cooperative Program, Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering, Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions. As a cooperating Southern Baptist Church, you are a valuable church planting partner and gifts to CP and state and national mission offerings allow us to be a part of one of the greatest missionary sending and church planting forces worldwide. And as a Church Planter one of the things that kept me encouraged was knowing that I was backed by a nationwide fellowship of believers that were giving sacrificially so that people could hear the gospel in my community.

Contact the LBC Church Planting Team for more information on church planting, for assistance devising your church planting strategy, or to make connections with church planters and church planting training across Louisiana.

A few books that will help you get started with church planting and sponsoring:

I Think I Want to Plant a Church. What Now?

Here’s the 5 big questions to answer before you get started planting your church!

“I’m thinking church planting is for me. Where do I get started?”

1. Are you called?

A Clear Calling is the most important ingredient for any new church. How has God led you to the point of desiring to plant a church? Explore your calling.

2. Do you have a network?

To plant a church you will need a network for prayer support and partnership. Possibilities are many. To begin networking through Louisiana Baptists, fill out our Initial Info Form. Other relationships that we find essential are sponsor church(es) and local associations. Who is your sponsor/partnering church? Have you connected with your local Director of Missions?

3. Have you been assessed?

Assessment helps you to clarify your calling to plant and also what context & partners that you may best fit with. Fill out the Initial Info Form and we’ll contact you to setup your assessment.

4. Have you been trained?

Your training to plant has no doubt been a life long journey. We also recommend that you take part in a specific training to plant a church in Louisiana. We provide 3-5 opportunities in Louisiana annually. We also recommend a number of conferences and other training nationally. Click here to view the next training opportunities near you. Or contact us for more information.

5. Plan, place, & people?

Your calling, networking, assessment, & training should culminate with a strategy to evangelize a particular people at a particular place. Check out our Engage Map to see potential projects around Louisiana. Contact us about places of greatest need & open doors.

Ready to get started?

Contact one of our Louisiana Baptists Strategists today to start your church planting journey.

How to Get Involved with a Church Plant

Would you like to be involved in getting a church or churches started in your area? Would you like to help your church with its multiplication strategy? Here’s a pathway for you to serve in Church Planting:

Barnabas Teams

Local churches, local associations and the state convention work in cooperation to plant churches throughout our state. Along with these partners, it takes qualified church planters, worship leaders, discipleship leaders and many committed volunteers to launch a new church. One pathway for lay leaders to participate in church planting is by serving on a Barnabas Team. Barnabas was a Jewish Levite who encouraged Paul and was a catalyst for church planting and church growth (Acts 11:25). It’s our desire to create a statewide network of encouragers & catalysts for church planting in Louisiana.

There are two types of Barnabas teams needed:

  • Associational Barnabas Team (ABT)
  • Local Church Barnabas Team (LCBT)

The purpose of this document is to provide background information and a job description for LCBT members.

Associational Church Planting Strategy (ACPS)

The ACPS developed and adopted by the association, sets a goal for the number of new church plants in the next ten years based on research of population and population projections. The ten-year goal will inform the association’s work in each one-three year window (see 10-3-1 church planting process).

What is a Local Church Barnabas Team (LCBT)?

An LCBT is a group of volunteers that work alongside a church planter in a specific area to evangelize people who will become a part of the core group of the new church plant or new campus. The intent of the LCBT is to give strength, depth, experience and workers to all new church plants.

The local sponsoring church will oversee the selection and orientation of members.

A trained evangelism volunteer will lead the LCBT.

The LCBT will consist of members from the sponsoring church, partner churches, the new church plant and other members of the association.

The state convention will provide training for new LCBTs.