Church Planting Questions

We’re always happy to meet with church planters as the schedule permits, but maybe this will save you some time.  Here’s my answers to the questions you probably want to ask.  If you have others, feel free to send them my way.

1.  How many people were on your staff when you started?  Two.  Me and one other guy.  We were both full time, but raised half of salary.  He was the small groups guy and did a bunch of random things.

2.  How much money did you spend before launch?  From January 1 to August 20 (grand opening day), we spent $60,000.  Some of that came from the launch team tithing, and I raised some of it.

3.  How did you pay yourself?  About 1/3 of my salary came from our sponsoring church, about 1/3 came from personal support, and about 1/3 came from speaking different places.   I took a pay cut from youth ministry to start this church.

4.  What was your timetable?  April 2005, moved to Cartersville.  August 2005, started working with sponsor church and on church plant.  November 2005, started core group Bible Study.  June 2006, first of two preview services.  August 2006, grand opening service.  I feel like we could have done it a bit faster, but we weren’t from the area and really used the time to meet people and get to know things.

5.  Where did you get people for the launch team?  Met a few in Cartersville, met a few at sponsor church.  The launch team probably had about 12 families on it by the time we got to the preview service.  I would only recruit people from my current church with the pastor’s blessing.  Do NOT go behind the back of the staff and try to get people to go with you.

6.  What did you do in launch team mode?  Talked about core values, planned, prayed, and organized some community outreach stuff so we could get out in the community.  We met on Sunday nights for about an hour.  We visited some church plants as a group on Sunday mornings.  Feel free to bring your team to our place.  Let us know you’re coming and we’ll give you a tour guide and a behind the scenes look at everything.

7.  What would you focus on early in the church?  Making Sunday morning the best it can be.  We hired out bands because we wanted great music from day one.  (I called in favors and used local bands that I met…we paid what we could, but it was still cheaper than one full time worship pastor).  If your service stinks, people won’t come.  That’s pretty simple.   We focused on the service (music and teaching), children’s ministry and small groups.

8.  When did you start small groups?  About 2 months into it.  In retrospect, I probably would have waited a little bit longer.

9.  How did you get volunteers?  We have more than 250 adults volunteering at least once a month.  We set the bar high and do a good job.  Excellence attracts people.  Good music attracts good musicians.  People want to work for something that is working and accomplishing it’s mission.

10.  What kind of advertising is effective?  Depends on your area.  Nobody was doing direct mail here, so we did it.  We didn’t do big mailouts at first, because we didn’t have much money.  We also did road signs and went to every community event we could.  We gave out helium balloons with our logo.  We set up a moon walk at kid friendly events.   You need to do everything you can to market and advertise and do outreach.

11.  What did you do for messages.  Wrote my own.  I didn’t download messages from the internet, but worked to communicate.  We borrowed some ideas and some graphics.  There’s lots of places for that.  Our first series was called “No perfect people” because that’s kind of an overall tone for our church.  I see too many planters talking about the vision and what they are going to do one day…just be the vision from day 1.

12.  What did you do at your preview services?  A regular service…with music, teaching and an offering.  We used the first offering to pay for the next service.  We let the service speak for itself.  Obviously, we referenced that this was our first service, but we tried to let it be a normal service.  Same was true for the second. Let people see what you really are.

13. What was your budget?  A joke.  You have no idea what your weekly offerings will be, so your budget is probably a guess.  We had one, but we literally spent money as fast as we got it. We had a list of what we wanted to get and we’d get one or two things every Monday.  We’re just now getting to the point where we are actually operating on a real budget.

14.   Where do you get staff?  Stay away from staffing websites.  Nearly everyone on our team (currently 10 people) was hired from within.  Meaning, they started coming to our church before they came for a job.

15.  What’s your structure?  Simple and staff led.  We have a board of directors made up of other pastors that I am accountable to.  They set my salary.  I hire and fire everyone else.   I have a right hand person (executive pastor) who runs the staff.  I focus on leadership, vision and teaching.  We have a finance committee and a pastors advisory team that help us make good decisions.  Accountability is a Biblical principle.

16.  Did you like the movie theater?  Yes.  And Yes.  It was great for visibility and environment.  I’d go with a movie over a school in a heartbeat.  We moved from the theater because we grew too big and we couldn’t fit.

17. What mistakes did you make?  Tried to do some things before we were ready.  We tried to do the once a month believer’s service before we should have.  It was sideways energy for us.

18.  Did you know what you were doing?  Not really.  I was a career youth pastor.  I read lots of books and asked lots of questions.  I didn’t feel qualified but I knew I was called.  We faked a lot of things and just went with it.  I was scared, but still confident that I was doing the right thing.

19.  Would you work another job?  I wouldn’t.  I know there are people that can, but I have to be focused on everything, and I want people around me focused on what we’re doing.  Launch big so you don’t have to work.  I was WILLING to do what was necessary, but I’d do everything in my power to not have to get an outside job.  I think it’s the kiss of death.

20.  What general suggestions do you have?  Go  to the conference.  Read books on business and marketing.  Find your niche but be yourself.  Have a good Sunday morning experience.  Don’t do too much.  You don’t need a women’s ministry or a Wednesday night service.  Focus on the most important things first.


1 comment so far

  1. josh roberts on

    Loved this blog. I’m a youth pastor of 7 years. I have had the priveledge of planting 4 very successful youth ministries, but am now getting the “itch” to plant a church. This was very inspirational. Thanks again.
    Look forward to checking out the rest of this blog.

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