Develop a Strategy
Many pastors asked me what planning and preparation were involved before I started Hermosillo Baptist Church, and I thank God for those questions. A vision without a strategic plan will be just another dream. Some people think having a strategy is not relying on God, or that one makes a strategy independently from God; but I believe a church planter should ask God for a strategy. While a strategy with the exclusion of God may bring some success, a strategy with God brings power and heavenly reward.
Some have quoted Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” These people say, “You should not rely on your plans; rely on God.” A church planter with a strategy is relying on God, as he follows the Bible's admonition in Luke 14:28, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”
Proverbs instructs us to learn from the ant which gathers in the summer for the winter. That is a strategy. In order to design a strategy that pleases God, we must seek His face in prayer, asking for His wisdom to guide us. That is why Zechariah 4:6 says, “...Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
This strategy should include the answers to three questions:
1. What date are you going to start your church?
If you do not have a starting date, you might go for years, always looking for the perfect moment, but never actually starting.
2. Will you start as a Bible study which will later be developed into a church, or will you start as an organized church?
I had a plan for each of these methods. My heart was set on renting a building and starting a church, but I had plan B in order, which was to start with a Bible study in our home. Even with plan B, I had a plan for how we would have our Bible study.
3. Will you rent a building, a school classroom, or a hotel conference room?
Each of these options has pros and cons, and the Lord’s leading is crucial.
Don’t think people will just stay no matter what. Pray and develop a strategy that will help people decide that your church offers what they need.
At our first service we had a bulletin filled with upcoming events such as youth activities (we had no teens), couples activities (we had no idea which couples would be there), and a discipleship class that would start on Wednesday (we had no idea if anyone would be there, either). I wanted people to know that Hermosillo Baptist Church was there to meet their family's needs. Don’t wait until you have teens to have a teen activity—have a teen activity so God will bring the teens in. I still remember when I made the announcement for our very first teen activity. One of the teens asked me, “Pastor, who will be at our activity? The only teens who come to this church are my sister and me.” I said, “There will be teens there.” My heart was pumping extra fast—not because of my faith—but because of my fear that this young man was right. I went with the agenda God gave me, and He blessed us with fifteen teens on our first activity!
Plan Your Sermons
I would encourage anyone who is starting a church to plan his sermons for an entire year in advance. With the busyness of soulwinning and letting people know there is a church in their area, it is a blessing to already know the direction of your sermons. At our first service, I announced what our Sunday school series was going to be, as well as the series for both our Sunday morning and Sunday night services.
One last thought—preach more on what your people need to be than on what they need to do. What is a Christian? How does a Christian behave? How does your relationship with God affect the way you think? All of these are good starting points for people who have never been taught the Bible.