Category Archives: Church Planting
The number one answer to the question, “What is the current greatest challenge in your life and ministry?” on our Louisiana church planting growth reports is some version of Time Management. Everyone seems to struggle with time these days, but church planters deal with the added pressures of usually a second or third job, young children at home, clock ticking on outside funding, little to no administrative assistance, continuing education demands, etc., etc. A few thoughts from my failures of time management as a church planter and small church leader:
1. Learn the discipline of turning it off and going home.
The last two church plants I’ve been a part of, centered ministry around our home. The church office, the church phone, the church leadership meetings, the church supplies were all based at my address for the first 12-18 months. This made it extremely hard for me to ever turn off work. Coupled with the fact that it is never all done in ministry. Two ideas I had to get used to: 1) I will not get it all done everyday. 2) To be effective tomorrow, I need to turn it off and do something else today. The quicker you’re OK with these two ideas, the better off you and your family will be.
2. Develop a weekly schedule and stick to it.
Young pastors and church planters get in trouble with time management issues many times because we fail to create the accountability of a weekly rhythm and schedule. THIS STRUGGLE IS REAL!!! A friend of mine in ministry likes to say, “Winging it is not a good strategy.” But many of us wing it when it comes to our weekly rhythms. Your schedule should have flexibility in it because much great ministry happens in the interruptions and spontaneous opportunities, but creating a basic framework for time spent is a necessity. If you start this early, as you add staff and expectations of a growing congregation, you will be better prepared to say no and yes to added responsibilities and interruptions. It will also be beneficial for staff and congregation to know when they can expect to find an open door to your office and when they can call you without interrupting something important. A schedule will also help you make sure you are balancing your time with planting / pastoring priorities – i.e. Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership Development, Community Engagement, etc.
3. Develop a system for To Do’s, Daily Scheduling, and Keeping up with Contacts.
Whether its Outlook, iCal, Google Cal, Google Docs, an old school Planner system, develop some tools that you can use in keeping the to do’s, appointments, and contacts handy at all times. And the technology out there is amazing in regards to personal productivity. Develop something that works for you and utilize it.
I’ve started accounts with so many different task management and scheduling services online that I’ve lost count. I finally developed my own tool that I print out and fill out each morning or the night before and return to throughout the day. Check it out HERE.
It’s to do’s, appointments on one page. On the back I list contacts throughout the day, with the goal of 20 contacts everyday, which is important to my work and a challenge for my introverted self. This helps me stay organized and focused and goal oriented throughout the day. (An editable Google Doc is HERE. Or Download a Word Doc Here – To Do_s – Editable – to create your own).
What do you use to keep organized and focused? What works well for you in time management? What tips and lessons learned can you share?
Next week I’ll share some lessons learned on managing preaching as a bivocational planter.
He was born 8 days after the very first service of our first church plant in South Louisiana, which started in an un-air conditioned fire station.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, until he was four we would drive past a fire station and he would yell “church” and when we drove by a steepled church building he would yell “space ship.”
- Because his dad’s a church planter, the first time we attended a church besides ours on Sunday, he asked where their fire truck was and why their chairs were so long (pews).
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he likes to hang out in coffee shops and has great bedside manner in hospitals.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t have as much as many kids in our area, but never complains.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t know that you shouldn’t wear shorts to church or that you shouldn’t be close friends with people of another race or class.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he knows who Rick Warren & John Piper are, & asked every Friday morning, “Do we have a Block Party this weekend?”
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t know what it means to be a part of a mega youth group or ride on a bus to camp.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he knows his way around Pro Presenter and online kids curriculum.
- Because his dad’s a church planter, he’s handled a lot of pressure to be the good kid, pray out loud, help with the nursery, etc., etc.
Proud of Jack. Grateful for his friendship and partnership in this ministry. It’s not always easy to be a church planters kid. Praying for Jack and all our church planting kids out there.
Wow! It’s been a busy summer! Great stuff, including celebrating 200 churches planted by Louisiana Baptist churches since 2010. Check out the above vid for some great quotes and highlights from the celebration. Here’s a few notes about the 200 plants:
- 200 Church Plants since 2010
- New Churches have been Planted in 91 different Louisiana Cities and Towns
- New Churches have been Planted in 25 different Louisiana Associations
- New Churches have been planted among 13 different people groups:
– 60 African-American
– 11 Asian
– 2 African Language
– 27 Hispanic
– 14 Multi-Ethnic by Design
- New Churches also include 21 Multi-Site developments and 25 RePlants
Great to be a part of this movement in Louisiana and across North America.
Multiplying leaders are masters at establishing new relational tracks for the Gospel to run on. Let’s call this Apostolic Networking. When Paul got to Rome, he was a little surprised that they already knew of him and his work, because of the relational tracks he’d developed had beat him there. The multiplying leader is a natural at networking for the good of the Gospel and for others. You will hear of their influence and impact from a wide spectrum of people and usually always in reference to the Gospel or for your good.
- From an unchurched person, “___ told me about your church.”
- From a leader you meet, “___ helped me understand…”
- From a potential partner, “____ told me you were doing a great job.”
And your reply will always be, “You know ___! How do you know him/her!”
- Church planters would do well to get to know the multiplying leaders in your area. They can open up doors that you won’t believe. Every community has them.
- Pastors and church leaders should look for and empower those in your congregation who are apostolic networkers. They’ll gladly introduce your church to the entire community in less than a year.
- Church planters should work at the art and science of networking for greater influence. If you’re not apostolic in nature (see the APEST test to find out), no problem, start by taking risk in new relationships, asking lots of questions, remembering names, following up with people you meet, look for opportunities to serve.
Read more about the apostolic gifting and church leadership in my post Creating Sending Capacity: Make Room for the Apostles (with a little “a”).
JR Woodward’s and Dan White Jr.’s book The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities is well worth reading for church planters or leaders pursuing missional, incarnational movement. Great info and ideas on starting and sustaining missional communities. Also, goes into great detail on the APEST modes of church leadership – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, Teachers. Also, great information on the spiritual maturity as it relates to missional communities and deep relationships around discipleship. Would be great for a core group or launch team utilizing missional communities as a strategy to go through. Would also be good for a church wanting to get back to a missional, community driven focus to go through. Want be shelving this one anytime soon. Good tool to keep handy as we look to make disciples and catalyze a movement. Lots of good resources, worksheets, etc. at churchasmovement.com.
Wore through a highlighter reading this book, but here’s a few of my favorite highlights:
- Jesus’ main message centered on the kingdom of God and his primary way of creating movement was confiding in the three, training the Twelve and mobilizing the seventy.
- We must die to our self, our infatuation with speed and size, and devote ourselves to the work of making disciples, training the few.
- Movement is about developing structures and systems that catapult people into mission.
- the church as movement values shared leadership, sustainability and faithfulness, leaving fruitfulness to God.
- the church as movement focuses on the “small” grassroots work of developing a discipleship core that builds a missional community together.
- The church is not the church if it is not moving deeper into the brokenness of our world.
- The key element to the spontaneous expansion of the church is simplicity.
- Movement requires reproducibility. What we are multiplying should be reproducible by just about everyone.
- We must remember that faithfulness is our part, and fruitfulness is God’s. He can choose to move as slow or fast as he desires.
- Skill is not the first thing that qualifies leaders in the missional church; character is.
- Personality is great, but a sustainable movement is not built on it. Movements are built on character.
- Conflict in relating with others in community often hints at things we haven’t paid attention to in our own soul.
- We discover much about ourselves as we move outward on mission. Our fears, our insecurities, our hypocrisies, our apathies and our chaos is revealed as we attempt to live a missional life.
- Discipleship is a move toward accountability and vulnerability to learn and practice the way of Jesus on mission.
- Discipleship involves heart , mind and body learning, not just the transfer of information and beliefs.
- Discipleship cannot be consumed; we must participate in it.
- Mission is much more than a weekend project; it is an incarnational pursuit to be faithfully present to God’s in-breaking kingdom in the ordinariness of life.
- the church is not a building, a weekly gathering or a program, but a people God has called out of the world and sent back into the world to redeem and renew the world.
- This is the essence of the church: a people who find their identity in the arms of God (communion), rallied around tables welcoming each other (community) and sent out into the world with serving hands (co-mission).
- The church cannot storm the gates of hell by gathering around consumer needs. A shared life and the shared story that Jesus is King are its rallying points.
Location! Location! Location! It’s not everything, the GOSPEL is, but the location can make a huge difference for the growth of a new church. Here’s some questions to ask as you look for the right location for your church plant:
1. Do we have room to grow?
Grace Point Church in Destrehan meets in a community center with plenty of room for future growth. They use pipe and drape to make the room smaller for now.
Better to have more space that you can section off in the beginning than too little space for future growth. And if you’re signing a three-year lease, it had better be a place that you can grow toward sustainability over that period.
2. Do we have the proper government approval to have church here?
Never sign a lease until you’ve gotten complete assurance from local and state government, fire marshal, etc., that a church can meet there. We’ve had a few churches in Louisiana find out after binding agreements have been signed, that it would cost big money to bring the building up to code.
3. Is this a visible, familiar location?
If you save $300 per month on a poor location, but have to spend $500 per month on advertising, it’s not a great deal. A sign out front can cost less than $200. And having a location near a major intersection or community landmark can be a huge money saver as well.
4. What will it take to transform this space into a place of worship each week?
Can you leave equipment or will you have to store it off site? How early will we have to start each Sunday? Do I have the volunteers available to pull this off 52 times a year?
5. Where will we put the kids?
One of our church plants hit a growth barrier because we ran out of capacity for kids very quickly. Most church planters tend to under value the importance of adequate kids space. Assess the capacity – i.e. how many babies, preschoolers, elementary kids can we get into this space? What about the noise? Will the kids areas be affected or affect the worship service?
6. What about ambiance?
Does the facility match what you want people to remember about your church? I like off the wall places. My church plants have met in apartment complex offices, fire stations, parks, gyms, and homes. Our vision has always been simple, outward focused, relational, so decor wasn’t a make or break. Does an off the wall, less than appealing location match the vision your sharing with the community? Or do you need to make sure the facility communicates excellence, beauty, style, etc.?
What other questions are appropriate to ask as new churches approach potential locations for gatherings?
The difference between a new church and an established church can be described like this:
In an established church, the staff goes about their day with the mindset, “They’re coming, how do I get ready?” In other words, Sunday will be here soon. The people are coming. Let’s prepare the building, the slides, the sermon, etc., etc.
In a new church, you have to start out with the opposite mindset, “They’re NOT coming, how do I get ready?” In other words, few people know about my church. And if they did, they are not predisposed to attend. How do I get ready to bring in the unchurched in my community. So,
- We must get out of the office into the community.
- We must find ways to invite people through invite cards, postcards, signs.
- We must look for open doors in the community for relationship and influence.
- We must scatter seeds of the gospel in all we do. (Proven ways to Scatter Seeds and Influence People in Your Community)
Now, every church and church staff SHOULD have the second mindset to some extent. The church exists for those who are NOT there yet. In church planting though, you feel this pressure every day, and it is a good thing. Jesus lived with this pressure and burden to be ready to go and serve and preach to those who were NOT already reached (Mark 1:38; Luke 4:43; Luke 19:10).
Church Planters often make the mistake of getting satisfied with a crowd and quit preparing like they are NOT coming too quickly. Live like they’re NOT coming for as long as possible. The church is for those NOT here yet.
Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Our first Greenhouse 2.0 is a wrap. Thanks to Alan Briggs for sharing his passion for multiplication with us. A few big takeaways:
>> The Western Church is suffering from a sense of suburban homelessness, never at home in its local neighborhood.
>> We worship IMPACT, but the gospel calls us to FAITHFUL PRESENCE.
>> Do I have any long-term meaningful relationships with not yet believers?
>> Love your neighbors. Not the ones you pick out for yourself, but the ones you actually have.
>> We will reap the harvest of the habits we build into our regular rhythms.
>> Don’t try to boil the ocean, just do the next right thing.
>> What lies are you believing about those in proximity to you?
I enjoy gardening. Even though I’m not very good at it. Why? I don’t always have the time to do what’s necessary to grow and multiply plants to their fullest extent. The best gardeners know how and put in the time to create the right conditions for growth and multiplication. The very best gardeners will start with a greenhouse to nurse the plants in early stages before they are ever put in the ground. A greenhouse is a tool where you can create the perfect conditions for multiplication & growth of plants at all different stages and with various needs.
I enjoy gardening in part because of the many parallels it has to church planting and ministry. I’ve began to see church as a greenhouse – a tool to create the right conditions for multiplication & growth OF DISCIPLES. Here are five truths I’m learning on church as a GREENHOUSE:
1. Disciples must be nurtured.
Like plants, like a garden, like a greenhouse, disciples need time and attention. One of the greatest books on discipleship has in its title a reminder we constantly need – Disciples Are Made, Not Born. While we are not completely responsible for the growth of a disciple, part of our commission from Jesus requires time and attention and energy and prayer, etc., etc., etc. One of the greatest disciple makers, the apostle Paul, said it like this in Colossians 1:28-29,
“We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.”
If we’re going to make disciples, we must expect to give much time and attention to people from sharing the gospel, teaching basic truths, responding to questions, correcting, forgiving, etc., etc.
2. A Disciple’s needs change over time.
A greenhouse or a garden is organized based on maturity and needs of the plants. Expectation are based upon time and stage of growth. Just like this, as churches, we need to provide a variety of opportunities for growth for people at different stages of maturity. And we need to teach our leaders what you can expect from people as they grow. The best tool I’ve seen that helps with this is Jim Putman’s great book Real Life Discipleship and the Real Life Discipleship Training Manual. Putman guides readers to understand where people are spiritually based upon what they say, and then how to respond and what to provide for them at that stage. (See my post Things Spiritual Infants Say for a run down).
3. Disciples will eventually need to be sent out from the greenhouse to multiply themselves.
The Greenhouse is not the final destination for a plant, nor is the Sunday worship service the climax of maturity for the disciple. Just like plants are meant to be outside, producing fruit and multiplying, disciples should be trained, equipped, and released into this world for maximum fruitfulness and to multiply the gospel in their sphere of influence.
4. Not all disciples will respond to the conditions you create.
A hard reality to face for the gardener, and much harder for the disciple maker is the truth that some plants and some people just won’t respond to the conditions you create. It hurts when a disciple doesn’t respond to God’s word. It hurts when a disciple leaves your church, but maybe they needed conditions you couldn’t provide at the time. Jesus even said that perhaps only 25% of disciples would become fruitful (Matthew 13). It’s important to remember that we’re responsible for our faithfulness, not everyones response.
5. The church is the perfect tool to create the conditions for multiplication & growth of Disciples.
The church, with all its imperfections, does provide a perfect environment for growth of disciples. A church offers opportunities to learn from those walking with God for years, opportunities to get involved and serve in various capacities, opportunities to have relationship wins and losses. These and other conditions help us grow. A lack of desire to learn, serve, love, and forgive REVEALS a lot about where we are spiritually and our potential for fruitfulness, maturity, and multiplication.
Does your church function as a Greenhouse? How are plants maturing? Are you providing opportunities for people at different stages of growth? Are you training your leaders to know what to expect as people grow? Are you moving people out to multiply in their world? Are you spending time with people that just refuse to grow & may need different conditions or to be let go?
Sustained leadership development requires intentionality. Churches stall many times because they lack an intentional plan to continue reproducing leaders beyond the core group development phase, if they do it then. Here are three questions to get leadership development started.
1. How many leadership roles have we developed?
You won’t expand the capacity of your church without a growing number of leaders. You won’t develop leaders if you don’t see a need for them. Expanding the capacity of your church requires enlarging the organization through leadership roles. Our current church plant has basically followed the Acts 6 moments in our history to start new ministry teams and thus creating new leadership roles. When we had a need arise, like in Acts 6 with the need for widows to be served fairly, we’ve created a new team. Or when we saw God giving us leaders of a certain gifting, we took the opportunity to create opportunities in that area. In 7 years, we’ve gone from one launch team, to now eight ministry teams, with leaders multiplying to fill roles required by the needs of the church and community.
Is your church setup to expand capacity through new leaders and expanding roles for leaders? If not, start with obvious needs in the church and community, and begin to cast vision for a new ministry or team or individual to fulfill that ministry.
2. How many leadership training opportunities have we promoted?
Leadership training for the church is more than just seminary training. Every church can offer an array of training opportunities and in so doing, develop a culture of leadership development. Here are a few opportunities available to all of us:
- Online training options like Ministry Grid. Training can be shared on Facebook Groups or by email. You can even do your own video training very easily these days through Youtube.com or Right Now Media.
- Invite other church leaders in your region that are killing it in a particular area of ministry that you hope to develop. Put on a luncheon after church and pay their mileage and most will jump at the chance to serve your church.
- If you’re close to a seminary, invite a professor for a day of training with your church in a particular area.
- Denominations and local Associations of churches offer trainings throughout the year that are usually free and close by.
- National conferences can be more expensive when you factor in travel, but can still be powerful events to train, equip, and inspire your leaders and potential leaders.
Plan 4-6 opportunities next year. Watching who shows up for these and takes them seriously will help you see who your leaders and potential leaders are.
3. How many small steps up the leadership ladder have we developed?
Each year I update a spreadsheet for our church called “Who Does What?” It lists everything required to pull off what our church does every week. Dozens of task go on that list. As a church planter, many of them have been done by me or by staff. But our work is to get more and more of that list, especially the leadership roles, done by the people in the church. BUT PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THIS: It’s not about getting stuff done! It’s about getting people done! Giving people responsibility in the overall mission of the kingdom is a way to help them develop as disciples. Watch for obedience and faithfulness, coach and encourage, and watch many of them climb up the ladder to fruitful ministry in the church, neighborhood, and beyond. You should see even making the coffee as a sacred role that invites someone to a life on mission.
Does your church have small steps of responsibility and life on mission for new disciples and potential leaders to take this week?
Developing leaders is about offering opportunities to lead, to learn, to take small steps along the path to maturity.