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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ten Keys to Sane Church Planting

Planting[from NextWave.com]  Bob Hyatt writes:  I recently saw a list of 10 Keys to Effective Church Planting. I want to whole-heartedly agree with some and humbly take issue with others (and one in particular)... I don't pretend to know it all- but here are my thoughts as I read through the list. Let's call my reworked thoughts Ten Keys to Sane Church Planting...

The list is:

1. Get on your knees and fight like a man.

2. Team-work makes the dream work.

3. Location, location, location

4. Determine your target audience.

5. It takes big money to plant a church.

6. If you build it they still might not come.

7. Clarify the “win”.

8. Set yourself up for success.

9. Focus on life-giving ministry

10. You get what you expect.

So... in order.

1. Get on your knees and fight like a man.

Aside from the inherent sexism in the way the statement is made, this is a great, great place to start. "Unless the Lord build a house..." :)

2. Team-work makes the dream work.

Yes. It's important not to do this thing alone.

3. Location, location, location

Yeah, okay. I hear you. I think our outside-the-box meeting space has done huge things for us (we meet in a pub). But...

I want to differentiate between planting a service and actually planting a community. Planting a service is easy. You just need a bunch of dough, a few people willing to work themselves to death and voila'... and yes, that's all about the location.

Planting a community, however, is a bit more ephemeral... a bit harder to quantify into easy-to-follow steps. It's a partnership between the Spirit and desperate people trying hard to listen to that Spirit. It usually results in a Sunday morning (or other time) gathering, and often people are told about it/invited to it... but that's not the heart of a true community is it?

4. Determine your target audience.

I guess on this one I would just say- Look in the mirror. Expect that the people who will be part of your community will largely look like you. Expect that, but pray for different.

And quit targeting people. I think it freaks them out.

5. It takes big money to plant a church.


If you'll excuse my language, that's a load of shite. And a dangerous lie to tell to church planters. I wish to God (literally) that people would stop saying this. Is it easier to plant with "big money"? In some ways... And I'm really glad for churches that are able to start with a lot of support. Seriously. The fact that someone is willing to put up that kind of money on a venture that statistically has an 80% or more chance of failure is amazing in the best sense of the word. A lot of people are putting their wallets where their mouths are to plant churches.


It's not necessary. You don't have to have "big money" to plant a church... In fact, you might be better off without it.

We had $700 a month committed when we planted our community.

That's it.

But we have kept overhead low, we have made do for the past two years with $600 worth of sound system, my associate pastor worked a full time job until this very month... somehow, we managed to launch a vibrant, growing community without big money.

In fact, I've seen churches struggle because of that damned big money.

They "launch" with a full contingent of paid ministry professionals, the whole Kid's Ministry In A Box™ that they bought at some convention somewhere, and the people show up to see the show.

And two years later, when their initial bankroll from momma church or daddy church-planting organization runs out, they fold because they have ministry jacked up to artificially high levels, that is, they have more programs and staff and equipment needs than their people can conceivably give for and support... and when that gap between actual giving and budget needs hits, they need to start laying off staff. And that's a spiral that the heavy-initial-investment, programmatic church model can't handle. When the staff starts going, that equates to a cut in services, and the people soon start edging out the back door for some place down the road with something new and exciting (and better funded!) going on...

Grim? Yeah...

Does it happen to everyone who starts with a big wad of cash? Of course not.

Could it? Oh yeah...

So why not start simple? Let it grow organically...

Different approach, different challenges (for sure)...

But do you need "big money" to plant?

No, no, no. A thousand times no! And you just might be better off with a different approach.

Sorry... got worked up there. I apologize if I stepped on your toes. This one is a serious button for me...

6. If you build it they still might not come.

Amen, brother. So... focus less on building and more on being. Be the kind of community (whether you are 10 people or 100) that others will find loving and welcoming, where they can find God and themselves be found. People will show up for that. You can figure out the bells and whistles later. I say, quit being a builder. Try being a gardener...

7. Clarify the “win”.

Yeeeeahhh... got no idea what this means. I know about setting quantifiable goals and all that. But we're talking people's souls, not numbers. We're talking about community, not benchmarks.

Do your people love God?


Do they love each other?


Do they love others outside of your little thing?


Are you together figuring out how that all works together in community? What that looks like for you as a unique group of Christ followers? Are you feeding people who need food, clothing people who need clothes and generally being Jesus to those God brings in contact with you/your community?

Win, win, win!

Don't have your five-year plan together? No mission statement? No idea what comes next?

Join the club.

And don't sweat it.

Do the things Jesus is telling your community to do, love people and trust God to build His church and...

You'll know the win when you see it.

8. Set yourself up for success.

Can't argue with that!

9. Focus on life-giving ministry

Or that!

10. You get what you expect.

And hopefully... a whole lot more.


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April 26, 2006 in Outreach and Evangelism | Permalink

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As a planter in the heat of the battle...thanks! Sometimes it is easy to loose focus.

Posted by: Donnie | Apr 26, 2006 10:45:36 AM

Whoa! This is making the rounds I guess...
Even though the money thing is what I think most focus on, when I originally published this on my blog I had a gal who's just recently become a Christian as being part of our community respond to the line: "And quit targeting people. I think it freaks them out."

She said... "YES!"

Something there, I think...

Posted by: bob hyatt | Apr 26, 2006 11:37:51 AM

Good stuff from Bob. Interesting, though, that he'd acknowledge not knowing what it means to "clarify the win", then go on to list a number of "wins"...and heartily agree with "set yourself up for success." Bob, I think you do understand "clarify the win", and you did that quite well ... just in different terms, perhaps, than others might use. (I like your "wins", though.)

I also really appreciate the emphasis on community, and the distinction between "planting a church" and "planting a community". I've started to do some thinking about that, and I think there's a lot of merit to the idea of treating the body of Christ as a community.

As to the money thing, I think that depends a lot on your "philosophy" of church. I interviewed last fall with a church here in San Diego that is committed to church planting, but their philosophy is that small churches are a pretty much a waste of resources. (I have no major arguments against mega-churches, but I had a mega-problem with that philosophy.) The church I attend now is also committed to church planting and, in my opinion, has a much better philosophy. The plan is that whenever the church reaches 1,700 people, we'll plant a church with 200 people and $200,000. In this area, that's pretty much needed if a church is going to occupy a building of any sort and remain viable. The church believes that the most significant community impact can be made by a church that has passed the 200 barrier, and doesn't want to take 2-3 years to get there.

With these thoughts in mind, I would encourage church planters to really think through their philosophy of church. Is it an institution? Is it a community? What size do you see as optimal for yourself and your community? What kind of leadership and other structure are needed? Do you value a dedicated, full-time pastor, or is a bi-vocational pastor best? There are lots of other questions, of course, and they all really tie into #10 in Bob's list - "You get what you expect."

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Apr 26, 2006 12:29:26 PM

Yeah, I'm gonna have to hope our Pastor doesn't see the post about big ministries ‘cause he'll probably want to start getting paid. We're still at # 6 on the church planting list. If you build it they still might not come. We’ve built it and we’re waiting for the horde to show up.

No, actually, we’re working on 1 and 2, we think we have the location and target audience, working on 7-10, and we hope 5 is not correct cause we’re starting with a pretty small nest egg. We’re growing in Christ, if not in large numbers, and we’re loving doing it.

Randy's right, there are lots of questions that need to be thought thru before planting a church. I'm glad we have a Pastor who's done it before and who's already thought thru most of it.

Posted by: DanielR | Apr 26, 2006 2:37:30 PM

How about adding elimnate unrealistic expectations. (I know all things are possible through Christ that strengthens me, or Nothing is impossible for God) I have been involved in two church plants, on the associate pastor level.
Building a building does not mean you will grow.
People from you mother church who pledge to spend a year in your church probably will not stay after that year.
Using the words relevant or exciting over and over again in your advertisement does not mean nothing to the average joe. Actually being relevant and exciting does.
Great preaching and unique worship will keep them coming to your church. (They can get those down the street, Christ like love, and Spirit filled messages in word or deed will keep them coming)
Do I need to go on?
Do I need to go on?

Posted by: Jade | Apr 26, 2006 3:34:56 PM

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