Church Planting from Scratch
Church Planting from Scratch. Recently I was asked by a church planter in a very strategic city in USA about church planting and life on life missional discipleship. This was an encouraging communication because it is rare that a "scratch planter" is thinking that far down the road. Most planters are thinking about core teams, fund-raising, community demographics and trying to keep the family fed and on the bus so the title can change from "planter" to "pastor".
I have talked to enough church planters around year three of the plant that I am developing a theory. It is called "why didn't I think about developing leaders from the start" theory. I have heard many stories from church planters about how much energy it takes to plant a church especially in the early years. By the time they hit the 3 year mark, most of the "planting" has taken place and now the hard work begins. People are coming because the preaching is pretty good. There is the energy in the air feeling that people have about something positive happening and they are a part of it. By this time most of the core team is weary and heavy laden and quietly wishing they could just put their kids in the mega church nursery because they are so tired of keeping all those "seeker kids".
Why does the question of "how will we prepare leaders?" come up three years into the plant and not from the beginning. I don't know the answer but I have learned a few things which might help future scratch planters think about leader development from day one.
Here is a sampling of observations:
1. Church Planting is hard work, start the process with a team from the beginning instead of just your wife, kids and dog.
2. Make the maturing and equipping of the core team your primary responsibility rather than using them to fulfill your dream of planting a church.
3. Make a commitment for your whole ministry to invest in a few men who you have led to Jesus to be your future elders, deacons and leaders. They will tell the stories for generations.
4. Start "Connecting" small groups (aka Community Groups, Fellowship Groups, Home Groups, K Groups, Life Groups, XYZ Groups) so people can feel a part of a unique community.
5. Early on, develop a pathway of spiritual formation. Answer the question of how you will equip your people to help others go from unbelief to belief, belief to maturity, and maturity to leadership. If you think about this pathway from the beginning, your will not be caught off guard 3 years into the plant.
Give me a call for the other observations I have made and we can talk about your situation... Don't settle for just planting a church, commit to plant a disciple-making church. I will always believe that planting disciple-making churches is the best way to fulfill God's calling for the Church!