Church Planting With The Right Crew

Recently I was able to spend several hours hanging out with a church planter  who is in trouble. It seems he called the wrong bunch when launching his church.

This church plant was a congregation “hiving off” of a larger church that has a vision for planting churches. He had freedom to recruit anyone but key leaders and he recruited a sizeable group of people.

A Little Too Much Stability

However, like so many others he went after mostly Christian families. The theory being that they offer stability (and money in the offering). Sadly, stability is what he got—too much stability. They weren’t about to get involved. When he began to invite people to step into ministry they simply left the church.

The result is that he quickly lost two-thirds of his launch team (if you could even call it a team).

Most were good people who simply migrated to their local megachurch where they could comfortably hide in the crowd.

This church is located in an area of upscale homes and some were actually embarrassed to host a home group because their 3000 sq. ft. home wasn’t large enough. These folks compete with others over that stuff). But the main reason underlying the flight is that families are busy… and many families that haven’t been taught to sacrifice seldom learn. Soccer practice is more important than showing up even on Sundays.

This man is left pretty much alone to manage the details involved in running a new church. It is killing him and his own family.

The people he gathered in pre-launch seemed enthused enough but when it came time to produce they walked away. My advice to this young church planter was to gather the few single adults in the group and focus the best of his energy on discipling these people. A couple of families are still a live option but many are really too busy to be of much help. Of course the other group worthy of focused attention are those still on their way into faith in Jesus Christ.

Making Disciples May Save The Church

If he begins intensively making disciples he may still pull the church out of the fire. He can build a cadre of people loyal to him and his assignment. He can teach them the missional side of church life. Hopefully, they will eventually marry and build families around the Great Commission rather than in resistance to it.

In essence, he should try to pastor two churches at the same time—the stable families and his (hopefully) hot young disciples.

Single adults possess an asset that many families do not. That is discretionary time. And that’s the basic building block for any ministry. Toss in discretionary income and idealism and this church may yet prevail.

Admittedly, this is the long way around the block—it will take time and perseverance. But, it is as close as he can get to the model Jesus left us and it is what Paul did with Silas, Timothy, etc. It would have been wiser to go for adventuresome people than stability long before launch day.












4 thoughts on “Church Planting With The Right Crew”

  1. Thank you for this, Ralph. It’s definitely challenging me and stirring up questions in my mind. I agree with what you’re saying about the singles in our little church community (we average about 45 for our Sunday morning worship service).

    But what do you do when the people showing the most promise as leaders are married with kids, or at least married? I can only think of one right now who is a single college guy who has potential. So what do I do with that?

    By the way, I met you at Exponential this week. I went to your break out session and we also met at the New Thing dinner. I told you that I was encouraged by your four practical steps to becoming a church planting movement because I was already doing the first two since we launched services 19 months ago in San Luis Obispo, CA. You prayed over my friend Chris and I as we endeavor to start a church planting network together in California. You prayed for us to receive a double portion of what God gave to you. What’s interesting, is that I read about Elisha asking for the same thing from Elijah that very morning!

    Also, I am picking up your book Making Disciples as you suggested. Any other advice?

  2. Hi Kurt,
    Thanks for the time we talked at Exponential West. I came away encouraged.
    As to having mostly married people, I would look for people who are the most excited about the church then spend as much one-on-one time as I could with each. Later, you can group them together (just a few weeks later) as it is more efficient.
    The first priority is to let your vision rub off on others. After that you’ll find them serving in ways you didn’t imagine as well as some you did!

  3. Thanks for that advice Ralph! Based on your thoughts on developing leaders through reading, I have thought about the people in our community. I have asked a few men to read T4T (Steve Smith and Ying Kai) with me who I think have influence. I was reading it before I went to Exponential West and now I am inviting them to read it with me. We are going to meet for the first time next Saturday morning and meet every two weeks. Have you heard or read that book? If so…any thoughts on it?

  4. This is good perspective. We gathered our core team way too soon, and I learned quickly that passion and enthusiasm (including my own) is overrated. We now have a smaller team looking to move and plant but they are committed and counting the cost. Thanks for this post

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