Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Raising Support

I was not really good at raising support, but several people have asked for sample support letters.  Here you go.






Sunday Evaluation

In a couple of hours, we will have our regularly scheduled production meeting.  The purpose of this meeting is to evaluate the previous Sunday, look at this coming Sunday (the order and the completed message), and glance ahead to an upcoming series.  In the evaluation portion, here are the 15 questions that we will use to guide our discussion:

1.    Was there too many or two few announcements?
2.    Did the welcome accomplish the purpose?
3.    Was the quality of the music appropriate?
4.    Was the song selection appropriate and effective?
5.    Did people seem to connect emotionally and/or spiritually?
6.    Was the lobby welcoming and inviting?
7.    Did it seem that people were welcomed and accepted?
8.    Did kids check in run smoothly?
9.    Are there any distractions that need to be discussed?
10.    Were there any small things overlooked?
11.    Was the message and purpose clear?
12.    Were there any portions that were ineffective and/or unnecessary?
13.    What a clear action step presented?
14.    Were there any areas that were underprepared?
15.    What did other people have to say in their responses?

On Launch Teams

We moved to Cartersville in May of 2005 and didn’t know one single person.  We weren’t even sure the church would end up in Cartersville at that time. Over the next few months, we started going to church and I started meeting people.  I would go to restaurants and talk to people sitting near me.  I would go to community events and try to say hi.  The only thing we had was a website.

I met a few people from Cartersville that were driving pretty far to church and they jumped in.  Throughout the next year, our launch team grew to about 10 or 12 families.  It was tough meeting people, but these people were great.

We had an information meeting that October (6 families), and started meeting in a home in January of 2006.  We went through our core values, and the few people we had brought a few others.  A few months later, we turned the core group into a launch team (an important distinction).  We visited other churches and got ready for our preview services.  We did two preview services and then held our grand opening.

We didn’t have a goal of people that we were working towards, and we didn’t have that large of a group.  We just plugged away and did what God called us to do.  Here’s some things I learned about the core group/launch team phase.

  • You need other people on your team.
  • People that are leaving other churches to come to yours will probably leave yours later.
  • Let people give/tithe right away.
  • Visiting other churches together and talking about your experience is great team building.
  • Don’t bend your vision to get people on that team.
  • Not everybody is a fit, and that’s okay.  We had some great people who found they were more at home somewhere else…this is a good thing for everybody!
  • Don’t be too quick to hire people or give them titles.
  • You can start a church with a small launch team.  Even in a town where you don’t know anybody.
  • A core group is internally focused; a launch team is externally focused.
  • Talk about your core values as a church, but also lead Bible Studies and make sure people are seeking Jesus.
  • Some of these people will take a bullet for you…never take that for granted.

Chime in.  For those of who you have planted a church, what have you learned about the launch team process?


For many of our full time pastors, we provide benefits.  As a 2 year old church plant, this can be tough, but we think we’ve found a way to keep the paperwork and headaches to a minimum.  When we give an employee benefits, we give them a set dollar amount.  We did a little homework and chose an amount that would provide for a normal insurance policy for a family, with a little extra to be used as they choose.  They choose their insurance plan from our provider – they can choose one with a lower deductible or one with better benefits.  If they have money left, they can add dental or eye care.  Or they can choose to contribute some of it to a retirement account.

This puts the employee in charge of their benefits and allows them to make choices based on their family situation.  The dollar amount will change annually based on inflation and the cost of insurance.

Church Planting Guru

I know that there are lots of Christians and Pastors that are all over the church planters that have immediate success. The guys who go out and grow a church quickly to out of control sizes and make significant progress for the Kingdom of God.

I also know that there are some Pastors who have stayed with their plan to change to country and the world, not just a city, with a methodical plan to plant churches all of the time, in lots of places, for as long as they can.

I want to give a shout out to one of my church planting mentors who has taught me tons about putting church planting in the DNA of your church and not deviating from the plan to see new churches popping up all over. The church is Northwood in Keller, Texas. I went through their church planting school half a dozen years ago and learned a ton about church planting. In case you want to learn more or pursue church planting you can follow a couple of the links below and check Dr. Bob Roberts out in a little more detail…it will be well worth your time.


Bob’s Blog

Bob’s Books


Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

Gettin’ Organized

One of the things that helps the most in running a church or running any business is the ability to know how things are suppose to work. It doesn’t do any good to have a hamburger flipper at McDonalds that doesn’t know who to talk to if they run out of fries. Likewise, at Oak Leaf Church, we have spent a lot of time getting our ministries organized, so that our volunteers can contact the right person when they need something.

The absolute most important part of the organization (or org chart) is who needs to be shepherding a particular group of people. In other words, what Pastor really needs to be investing in these volunteers to make sure that they know how they can care for them, what their needs are, and if they are being discipled effectively.

The way we have chosen to get organized is to layer teams of volunteers into specific levels. At each level of volunteerism there is a specific level of investment by the pastor or the Lead Volunteer in that area.

We hope that this will really enable us to minister to people effectively (even if they aren’t in a Journey Group…which we hope they are) and help people feel connected no matter how large the Lord chooses to grow Oak Leaf. The program we used, because we are Mac lovers, was Omnigraffle. You can download it here.

If you want to see it by specific ministries you can download each of them by clicking on the following links.


Family Ministry


Journey Groups

– Anthony Gratto, Executive Pastor

What I’ve Learned About Small Groups in 2 Years

Some church planters asked some great questions about small groups, and after about 2 years into this church plant thing, I felt like I could offer some advice.  We’ve really struggled through some things, and we have more questions than answers, but here is what I know so far.

  1. The leader is the key.  You MUST have a leader that will champion small groups on a church-wide level.  This guy must say “small groups” as the answer to any problem. He has to be a nut about learning, reading, and investigating and has to become THE hands down expert on small groups in your organization.
  2. Do not start them too soon.  If I could re-do it, I would have waited at least 6 months and probably 1 year before starting groups.  I would have taught on them, told people they were coming and make them wait.  By the time we rolled them out, people would have been hungry for them.  There’s nothing wrong with not offering something right now, in order to offer it correctly at some point in the future.
  3. You have to have multiple launching points.  You can’t just start groups 2 times a year.  There has to be constant ways for people to get involved.
  4. The feel and vibe of groups has to match your church.  If your church is open and you talk about inviting, your groups should be the same way.  I know some big churches do closed groups, but that doesn’t fit our church as a whole.  In my experience, closed groups become inward focused, when the goal for our entire church is to be outward focused.
  5. No matter how successful you are, not everybody in your church will get in groups.  You can’t say that groups are your sole plan for caring for people, when 50% of your people might not get in one.  Those people need to be pastored too.  And in some cases, small groups might not be the most effective way to connect or disciple someone.

What would you add to this list?  What’s important to know about small groups in a church plant?