Without a doubt, much prayer and energy is invested in church planting. Church planting pastors are pulled in many directions, while juggling a variety of responsibilities. And all this with a limited amount of time. As church planters, we are seeking to honor God as we embrace this great challenge to which He has called us… and we desire to be faithful and effective in living out that calling.
But that is precisely where the difficulties may arise. Our heart is focused on launching well to reach our community, yet our minds and bodies are often stretched thin as we are trying to accomplish so much.
To help alleviate some of these struggles, review these 5 helpful tips for church planting.
Pray and seek God.
You may be thinking, “of course I am praying and seeking God, I am planting a church, after all.” However, one of the issues I encounter again and again is that church planters get so caught up in the doing that they begin to neglect the being. Yes, you are doing good things as you are preparing for your church launch…but be careful that all of the time spent doing those good things does not convince you that you are growing more deeply in your walk with Jesus. Protect your focused time in prayer and seeking God above all else.
Create this habit now. Once the church is launched, it becomes even harder to sustain this daily commitment. This should go without saying, but too many pastors have allowed busyness to overshadow their need for regular engaging with God. Keeping this first helps with everything else you are doing. It doesn’t mean everything will always go smoothly, but when issues do arise, you will be deeply connected to God and operating out of a fresh, growing, encouraging mindset, grounded in Christ.
Organize your core team for maximum church planting impact.
More than likely, if you are church planting, you have given thought to developing your core team. You may have worked through some training to help you and you are already prepared for your core group meetings. But have you thought through how to get the most from the team God has brought together? This is a matter of leading effectively and efficiently in a manner that encourages those who are serving. Within your core group, begin discussing and prayerfully identifying strengths and passions. This allows you to better understand which team members are best suited for specific roles and tasks. Once you are aware of each team member’s strengths, you can delegate responsibilities accordingly. Be sure to take the time for this important step now, it will free up time later.
Think strategically about how you will gain exposure for your church and engage your neighborhood.
There is a very important and practical aspect to planting a church that can get lost in the shuffle: connecting positively with the community. This takes time, and, unfortunately, is often overlooked until it is so late that the efforts put forward are much less effective than they could have been. With your core team, decide how you will:
- Inform the people in your community when and where your church is launching. There are many effective methods, such as direct mail invitations, social media promotions, outdoor banners, posters, door hangers and pre-launch community events.
- Equip your core team to spread the word. Be sure to establish consistent messaging, provide personal invitation tools they can share with others and engage your team in community events before your launch.
- Expose the neighborhood to the “heart” of your church. How will the community best understand who you are, what you value and why it matters? Defining your church’s core values allows you to communicate them effectively through activities in the community, your overall branding, your messaging on your promotional tools, website and social media, etc.
Actively reach your neighbors.
You must do more than plan how you will engage your community. You have to put those plans into action. To better focus it is best to break this down into three specific categories of promotional engagement:
- Pre-Launch: Establish your branding, including logo. Set up your website and your social media channels. Be sure the branding across everything is consistent. Design your postcard invitations and put your mailing services in place. If possible, place banners at the location where your church will be meeting. Host your pre-launch community events and be sure to capture attendees contact information so you can follow up. Promote your launch Sunday on Facebook and other social networks.
- Launch: Place banners and signage that direct people to your church. Have clear signage at the church for children’s ministries, guest services, coffee bar, etc. Use connection cards to capture guests contact info for follow up. Consistently brand all of your communications: signage, etc. Encourage people to ‘check-in’ to your church on Facebook. Post across your social media channels, including video clips. Be prepared to invite everyone to a post-launch event, such as a community movie night or a family-friendly comedian event.
- Post-Launch: Have your team ready to follow up with everyone who attended your launch worship gathering. What event are you inviting guests to and using to connect with even more people in your community? Sometimes so much emphasis is placed on launch day that a post-launch follow up event is overlooked. Have this planned well before your launch, so you can maximize relationship building opportunities. Promote this event in your community as you did your initial launch: direct mail, across social networks, banners, personal invite cards, etc.
Continue building relationships.
Church is not a “build it and they will come” enterprise. Church is a community of people, built upon relationships. Therefore to continue building the church you must be focused on on building relationships. Follow up with everyone who has attended your church or your community events (pre-launch and post-launch). Here are 6 questions you must answer to ensure your church is focused on building relationships:
- Have you trained a follow-up team to engage with people who are already connected with your church?
- Are you holding the follow-up team accountable so you are sure people are being contacted in a timely manner?
- What’s next? Have you put something on the calendar every month that gives your church the opportunity to engage with those who are not yet connected?
- How are your community engagement events connected to your overall mission and vision?
- When a guest comes to your church, what are their next steps to get connected?
- Are these steps clear and are you encouraging guests to take them?
Focus on these five helpful church planting tips and you will experience encouraging results. You will be able to rally your team and be more effective and more efficient while maintaining a focus on building personal relationships as you seek to introduce people to the hope and truth of Jesus!
With 20 years of pastoral leadership experience, Jason Daye is passionate about helping ministry leaders discover how God is already working in their unique ministry contexts. Daye also strives to help them uncover opportunities to build bridges into their neighborhoods to extend the hope of Christ. He dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. Jason is the Director of Ministry Development at Outreach, Inc. and lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children. He enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter @jasondaye.