This series focuses on why churches should plant other churches and how they can help support others in their planting efforts. The first episode discussed the need for multiple churches, not chairs. Next, we discussed supporting other planters. Last week the focus was on the roles of the new planter vs. the established pastor. Today Pastor Michael will give us examples on how to keep the church planter mindset, even as an established church.
Michael has a unique story of doing ministerial work for 20 years before becoming a church planter. At first, he was doing many of the Pastoral duties, but when he and his wife first starting talking about planting a church, he didn’t see himself as being the Pastor. Once that mindset changed, he was ready. He went to a CPBA church planting team meeting. He had a great presentation.
And their response was: we wish you luck, but don’t see it going anywhere. They told him he needed a launch team and he needed to slow down. With his many years of ministry experience – his plan could work, after a year with a team of people.
Along came, Matt Marrs. Matt said that he would do whatever he could to support Michael during that year. The church provided building space, a line item in their budget, and an opportunity to preach on Sundays about church planting. Matt even encouraged anyone from Northland to join the launch team.
Our guest wishes there were more pastors out there who would provide that support and encouragement.
Tips for a Successful Launch
Most statics say that a typical launch team doesn’t stay past the first year, but Fellowship of Grace didn’t experience that normal. Their team stayed on. They saw the vision and mission and the church is still 85% of what that vision said they would be today.
In the beginning, they said they would start with just a few things, and do them well. For FOG, it was about great worship, great kid’s ministry, and great follow up. Limit yourself in the beginning, but wait for the right time and right people to add more than you can handle.
The launch team is who the Pastor is going to rely on to help serve the church, sometimes even in multiple areas. So you want those people to be committed church members.
Don’t Do These Things
When asked what things he might do differently, our guest commented that his entreprenureal spirit can be an asset, but sometimes needs to be tapped down. Again, don’t do too much too fast. Or jump into things before doing some research.
He thinks there are about 14 characteristics that make a church run well. No one person can have all of those, so for our guest’s experience, he and his partner Pastor have all those characteristics together. Without Pastor Derrick, Michael believes that their launch would not have been as successful, because they wouldn’t have had the right team.
Church Plant Mindset
Technically, your church plant is established after one week. But after 17 years, established means something else. It means established as in stable. Our guest believes that they should always keep the mindset of a planter – not the midset of an established church. (In case you are wondering, these are the “we’ve always done it this way” folks.)
They should be actively going after the community, going after the lost. In the beginning there is a desperation to get people in the door. People that accept Christ in your church are generally the ones who stay. The people who are church transfers are more likely to transfer churches again. Established and stable churches sometimes slip into a mindset of coasting. With each event, you should consider if this is something helpful for your church, and decide if you continue or kill that event. What is the best value add for your people.
A note on building space
For them, once FOG had a building, there were a few different things to figure out. First, your set-up and tear-down team need to get plugged in somewhere else. Second, your budget will look different now. There won’t be the monthly rental fees, but if the heater goes out in the building, it is your responsibility to get it fixed now. There will be unknown complicated situations that you will have to navigate. And you won’t really know what those are until you are in the middle of them. But you still need to try to prepare yourself.
The building has been great for their transfer growth. Which will help them reach their community – or provide more people for another plant. It shows a sign of stability to the community, more than a temporary space might.
A note on planting other churches
Churches have to be balanced between internal and external growth. Planting has been part of their thinking since the beginning. They have supported financially, sent people from their congregation, and planted on their own. Pastor Michael says that all of those have been costly on their church, in different ways; but they believe that God will replace those depletions when you are faithful.
Part of Michael’s job as an NAMB church planter assesser is asking church planters specific questions during their assessment. For him, his favorite question is when those people describe their calling. Almost anybody can learn the mechanics of planting a church, but planting is hard, you have to have a deep calling to continue it all the way.
“You have to be completely convinced that God wants you to do this, and you are going to do this, no matter what comes against you; or you will not survive.”– Michael Porter
We hope this series has been encouraging to those of you who are already on the path of planting, or has equipped you with knowledge for how your church can begin this process.
Join us next week as we begin a new series on Church IT.
Special thanks to our guest, Michael Porter, and our masters of all things Podcasting, Chris and Lauren Miller, for this final episode in our Church Planting series.