Inside a Church Plant

Thought I would dump a little info out there for church planters.  Before our grand opening on August 20, 2006, I put in one year on the ground and went through the Westridge School of Church Planting. I learned a lot from some books and
confererences and blogs, and even more from watching other planters and
visiting other church plants.  Here’s some random information for any
church planter that might be interested. 

1.  We use the web-based Fellowship One
to track giving, contacts, membership, everything.  We signed up for
the affordable starter edition ($500 annual license, increased to $800 for the second year based on our total worship attendance) and it allows us to do everything we
want.  When a newcomer requests info, we assign that contact to a staff
person who sees that info when they access Fellowship One through the web. We keep track of
registrations of events through the program.  It’s a very powerful
tool, and one day, we’ll add the web link tools and the online
children’s check in.  I would highly recommend that all church planters
use this from the first moment that you need to keep track of one
single address.

2.  We use Mac’s in our office.  Our network is an external 250 GB
network hard drive. I publish all the church events with iCal and all
our staff and key leaders can view the master church calendar.  If they
use iCal, they can subscribe to it.

3.  We do a newcomers dinners about once a month.  We just talk
strategy, I share vision and values, and we let people ask questions.
We printed all the info in a book (from Lulu)
and we give that to everyone.  It’s a 45 page book, costs about $5
each, and it looks nice.  If you’re a church planter and want one, I’ll
send you one.

4.  We’ve used JakPrints and NetPrint 24 for printing.  I used these guys to design our website.  Stats are telling us that more than 50% of the people who visit our church visit our website first.  We created as a sermon-discussion site.  And we also have a password-protected site (through typepad) for all our our leaders.  We post kids curriculum, greeter schedules, and all kinds of info there for our leaders to download.

5.  We’ve done direct mail (NetPrint24 seems to have the best prices on postcards, not to mention fantastic turnaround time), road signs, invite cards (PS Print does
a nice job on those), and doorhangers to spread the word.  By far, the
most effective advertising has been word of mouth. Then direct mail and
road signs in that order.  We are constantly looking for ways to be
visible in our community – through outreach events, school stuff, and
the Chamber of Commerce.  If you do direct mail, check with post office
about saturating the rural routes…it’s the cheapest way to go and
every single residential mailbox will get a card.

6.  We basically run the whole service on Sunday from my MacBook Pro.  We use ProPresenter during worship, and Keynote (worth it just for the cube transition) during the message.  We play videos straight from Quicktime Pro.  I record the service with GarageBand using a little M Audio USB device.  We also record directly to a CD.  I use the GarageBand file to upload the podcast via Podcast Maker
(so easy), and we duplicate the whole service CD and give it to all our
KidVenture volunteers.  We have another computer there for backup, and
I have every file and video backed up on a jumpdrive just in case.  So,
we make CD’s available and podcast.

7.  On our staff is myself, a full time small groups person (both of
us having raised much of our salary from support), a part time
children’s person, part time student person, a volunteer programming
director, and a volunteer Connections leader.  We also have a part time
office person, who works very, very hard holding everything together.
That’s seven total staff. 

8.  We aren’t normal in that we have no worship leader on staff.
This has actually been a good thing because it’s allowed us the
opportunity to bring in great leaders and bands while taking time to
develop some of our people.  Most books say get your worship leader
right away…we played to our strengths and didn’t try to force
anything.  We’ve had some great worship so far.

9.  We started small groups about 8 weeks into the church.  We did a GroupLink event and the result was the formation of five small groups. 

10.  Our setup crew gets to Carmike Cinemas at 6 AM. We do have
rotating teams of greeters.  We set up a coffee table and an Info Table
(where we sell message series CD’s and OLC tee shirts, and give out
stuff to guests and just meet people).  We put signs all over the
place.  Inside the service, our ushers have Bibles available for anyone
that wants them and we encourage people to keep them if they don’t have

11.  Dana uses FirstLook for preschool 252 Basics for elementary children.  We started out using Kidmo for our elementary children, but changed over.  I think 252 is the best material out there for children.  Kidmo is a little easier to implement.  By far, inviting children’s ministry volunteers to join the process has been our biggest challenge.

12.  Our service is relatively simple.  A intro video, a welcome,
about three songs, and a message.  We usually take up an offering at
the end of the service. We don’t do a lot of announcements.  We print
them in a small handout (about half the size of a traditional church
bulliten – we got the custom designed outside printed in full color
from these guys, and
print the inside in black and white each week on a plain jane copier)
The service on Sunday is about 1 hour and 5 minutes give or take 5
minutes.  We focus on having something to say, and saying it well,
rather than trying to be cute.

Anyway, there’s a fire hose full of information…hopefully, you can find something helpful there.  We’re still learning so many things, and I hope that never changes.


1 comment so far

  1. matt adams on

    Good stuff Mike.

    Oakleaf’s website is not only one of our favorites, but also one of the most talked about sites from our other clients & any new clients we talk to.

    I’m really glad its working well for all of us!

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