There are many different ways churches have been started. I am in favor of any honorable method that proves to be successful. Any method that works, you might say, is a good plan. However, my experience tells me that some methods are better than others. Unfortunately, many church plants are not successful, and there are reasons why they are not successful. Though there are many ways to successfully start a church, there are methods that are more likely to fail.
Sometime ago, a young man spoke to me and said, “I believe God wants me to start a church, but I’m not sure what I should do first.” Some of the following thoughts are those I shared with this young man.
First, you should determine whether or not you are prepared to undertake such a great challenge. You, as a church planter, must receive the approval of your home church and especially your pastor. If your pastor cannot approve of your plan, how can you expect other preachers to approve of your actions? Probably no one is ever fully prepared for the task of church planting; however, I am confident some men would be wise to wait until their churches believe they are ready. A premature start may signal failure and perhaps end future aspirations of starting again. A young man who is sent out with the blessing of his church and his pastor has greatly increased his possibility of success.
Secondly, you must determine where you believe God would have you start this new church. In which town or city will you begin? It is difficult to raise support and make plans if you do not know where you are headed. There are many considerations in knowing where God would have you go, but you must go to the place of God’s leading.
Also, you must determine if your home church will be your reproducing church or if another church may be closer or more capable of helping to reproduce the church. Remember, churches start churches. Allowing a godly and experienced preacher to advise you in this endeavor reveals your wisdom and will result in God’s blessings.
Set a time schedule. Usually one year of planning is necessary to get off to a good start. The final six months prior to the first service are especially intensive. It is similar to a wedding. You wonder how it could take so much planning for a wedding, but by the time the wedding date has arrived the bride and groom are exhausted.
When the initial plans are set you need to develop a web site, a prayer card, and possibly a flyer. Remember, Mickey Mouse belongs in Disney World, but not the ministry. All your printed material must be done professionally. Professional work is expensive, but losing people is more expensive. The only opinion many people will have of your church will be what they see on your post card or flyer.
Once you have your printed material prepared, you should begin calling key churches and pastors to set up meetings. Raising support is an important task for almost all church planters. Learning the best methods of raising support from experienced pastors will greatly enhance your success. There are important keys to raising support and fortunately, there are some good men who can help you learn how to do it.
During the process of raising support, the final six months must be planned. Many times churches will donate John and Romans for new churches, and other churches can be solicited to help distribute them. The final four weeks will be a blitz of the area, where every day you are visiting all day and many volunteers can help as well. A direct post card mailing can be made during the final two weeks and an advertisement in a local paper should also be considered. Phone calling, if utilized, should be done about six to eight weeks prior to the first service.
The alternative to planning a good start is to do no planning and have a bad start. If only two or three people attend your first service, you will face an uphill battle trying to overcome the stereotype you have set. I am convinced that starting well is of extreme importance. Seeking and receiving counsel from godly men and willingly placing yourself under the authority of a local church are the best ways to start.