ASAP in Church Planting: What should I do first? #churchplantingfaq
When starting a new church or anything else, getting off to a good start is very important. A great question I’ve been asked several times this year – “What should I do first?” I wrote about what to do BEFORE starting a church and what to do in THE FIRST YEAR of a new church. But what should I be most concerned about in the very beginning, the first quarter, of a new church planting project. Looking back at my three first quarters of church planting projects, here’s what I’d do before I ever start to think about finding a building, getting a 501(c)3, or hiring a worship leader.
1. Gather partners.
Before getting on the field, you should have been developing a network of partners for prayer, financial support, etc. Establishing good communication patterns at the very beginning is essential. Every Monday email, closed Facebook group, hard copy E-newsletter, discipline on reporting if you’re partnering with an organization that requires a monthly report. Get in a rhythm of sharing with your partners early. And continue to work your plan to develop & establish good partnerships.
2. Meet some new people.
Establish yourself as a people person immediately. Build some relationships, get to know your neighbors, stick your nose in some conversations at a coffee shop, & share the gospel. If you get into month 3 or 4 & you don’t have some relationships on the field, the walls will start closing in & the loneliness will begin to stifle you. And these relationships will hopefully give you some soundbites to communicate needs to your partners & some potential core team members as well. I used Dan Morgan’s KISS method as a strategy for meeting new people: Know a name, get Involved, Share your Story, Share the Gospel.
3. Gather at least one circle.
Three keys to church planting: Gather, Gather, Gather. To grow the church, you’ll need to effectively gather CIRCLES (small groups), ROWS (worship gatherings), CROWDS (special events). Right now, focus on gathering one circle by inviting some of the people you meet to a Bible Study. You may be blessed to have a launch team from a sending church to help you form a circle. If so, work hard to keep that circle open to the unchurched. Or start a second circle for the unchurched. The more circles the first year, the better.
4. Meet with a coach/mentor.
Most church planters have read widely before getting on the field. You’ve got a ton of ideas. You’ve kept up with what others are doing. You need to establish some relationships with people that can help you focus on the best courses of action right now. A good coach or mentor will hold you accountable, help you process & sort through plans & ideas, & give you honest feedback. Eventually, you’ll have a team inside your church that can help with some of this, but now you need trusted advisors on the outside that believe in you, love you, & want to see your church succeed. In my experience, the closer to the field your working that they are, the better. Don’t wait until you need some advice. You need it now whether you know it or not. Establish a pattern of meeting with someone in the first month.
5. Establish patterns of devotion & rest.
One hour each day, one day each week, one weekend per month, two weeks per year. Plan out when you’re going to spend time with God, what will be your day off, date nights, vacations. Running past your devotional life & seasons of refreshing will lead to a quick flame out for most church planters.
So, a good checklist for the first 3-6 months of church planting:
- How many partners do I have? Have I communicated with them effectively?
- How many names do I know in the community?
- How many circles have I started?
- Who is my coach or mentor(s)? And when do we meet?
- Have I rested well this quarter?