Archive for the ‘Church Planting’ Category

Changes Coming


Heads up.

This website is going to change. It’s going to be absorbed with a new site with a new focus: (which should be up this week).

Launch and Lead is going to focus on providing advice, resources, networking and coaching to people interested in starting churches. All of the posts here will be transferred over to the new site, and new goodness will be added.

Follow launchandlead on twitter for updates.


Why Oak Leaf is Growing, Part 2

Here’s a few more reasons why I believe Oak Leaf Church is growing.

6.  I take my job very seriously. I work hard, and I expect those around me to work hard.  Church planting is not a part time job, a side thing or a hobby.  I meet with other pastors, go to conferences and stretch myself as a leader.  I understand that this church will never grow beyond my leadership lid.

7.  Volunteers, volunteers, volunteers. We have incredible volunteers, and watching them in action inspires me.  I think about half of our adult attenders volunteer somewhere every single weekend.  We’ve created a culture of volunteers.  We empower them, appreciate them, and realize that we couldn’t do what we do without them.  They are awesome.

8.  We are different.  This goes back to #2, but we aren’t like every other church in town.  Now we may not be all that different when you look at the innovative church lists, but we’re different for our area.  We do things differently and say things differently.

9.  We are bold in our advertising and marketing. We put out signs that say “Chuck Norris Loves Oak Leaf Church.”  Our graphics and postcards look good.  Random people in the community often tell me, “hey…your stuff always looks so good.”

10.  We learn from our mistakes. We are not perfect…far from it.  And we have a long way to go.  We’re still reaching less than 5% of our community, and that’s not good enough.  But when we mess something up, we ask hard questions and keep moving forward.

Why 1,000 People Are Attending Oak Leaf Church

Oak Leaf Church is a little less than three years old, and we’ve seen God do some incredible things.  One of those things is the numbers of people that are coming to Oak Leaf Church on a regular basis.  Cartersville has a population of 18,000 people, and there are about 90,000 people in the entire county.

We didn’t spend a lot of money ($55,000 from January to our launch in August).  We didn’t have a social networking strategy.  We didn’t have a big launch team (we had about 10 families)  Anyway, here’s some reasons why I believe so many people are connected right now.

1.  God is blessing.  I don’t mean this in the super-spiritual, gotta give God lip-service kind of way.  I really mean it.  It’s possible to do all the right things, and if God doesn’t bless it, then it’s no good.  I have no idea why God doesn’t bless everyone the same, but I’m thankful that He has blessed our church.

2.  We came to the right place at the right time. I really didn’t want to plant in Cartersville, because I’m more of a city-person.  In fact, even when we moved to Cartersville, I kept driving down into the city to find a better place.  But in the end, God wanted us here.  Turns out we were able to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big pond.  Cartersville didn’t have a church like Oak Leaf Church.  There are several other church plants that have just started or are starting now.

3.  We are intentional about growth. We plan for it, pray for it, and expect it.  I think a lot of churches don’t grow because they really don’t expect it, and consequently, they never plan for it.  I’m always asking “what’s next?”

4.  We aren’t afraid to lose people. This is important…I’ve seen big givers walk, but I have never been tempted to change the vision to accommodate people.  Oak Leaf Church isn’t for everyone, and I’m okay with that.  If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.  When I watch people leave, it’s always sad, but sometimes, it’s the best.

5.  We are not afraid of change. In fact, we seek it out.  Sometimes, we’ve been guilty of changing too much.  But if you want to grow, you’ve got to be willing to change.  And it’s a gut check, because we often change things that I started or that I thought was a good idea.

Look for five more reasons tomorrow.

Church Planting Do’s and Dont’s

  • Don’t think that there is only one way to do church.
  • Do decide your way and be true to yourself and your calling.
  • Don’t hire people just to have a team.  Having the wrong people on the team is worse than not having a team.
  • Do hire people that you want to hang around.  You’re going to be with these people a lot!
  • Don’t be apologetic about who you are or who you are reaching.
  • Don’t offend Christians in the name of reaching the unchurched.
  • Do talk about vision, purpose, and money more often than you think you need to.
  • Don’t try to do it all.
  • Do play to your strengths and do some things really well.
  • Don’t try to meet every need.  Just because it’s a need or someone requests a ministry doesn’t mean you should meet it or start a program.
  • Don’t worry so much about writing bylaws and installing elders early on.
  • Do become a marketing expert in your area.
  • Don’t define yourself by what you are against.
  • Do teach your people that their number one task is to find more people.
  • Don’t freak out when the offering is bad.
  • Do read a lot of books, and not just books on church planting.
  • Don’t be afraid to lose people.
  • Don’t build a church around your preferences.

Coaching Network Update

Applications are staring to come in for the church planters coaching network that’s set to begin this August.  We’re going to meet once a month for six months and talk nuts and bolts of church planting.  I’m limiting the network to about 10-12 people, who are just about to launch or are already launched, and I think it will be worth your while.

We’re going to talk staffing, vision, money, leading, ministry, programming, and more.  I’ll give you every document…bylaws, meeting agendas, forms…that we’ve got.  I’ll let you know how all our systems really work.   We’ll focus on how to launch and how to lead.  I will connect your staff with people on our staff as well, with the hopes of developing an ongoing relationship.  We’ll meet most of one day a month in Cartersville at the House of Rock, and lunch will be provided.

We’re partnering with Westridge, and I’ll invite some of my church planting friends in so we can learn from the people actually doing it.  Three years into this, I honestly believe that coaching is one of the missing pieces in most church plants.  Think about it…professional athletes still have coaches!

If you’re interested, email Tracy and she will send you an application.  The first meeting will be in August.

Church Plant Fundraising

Some of the most common questions we get on this blog are in the area of fund raising.  One such question is “how much does it cost to plant a church.”

My answer:  everything you’ve got.

If you raise $50,000 then you’ll spend every bit of it.  If you have less, it can cost less.  If you raise more, it can cost more.  There’s no set number.

I know of churches with amazing funding who blew threw it and never made it.  And I know churches that launched on shoestring budgets that are doing well.

Just so you know, between January 1, 2006 and August 20, 2006 (our grand opening), we spent about $55,000 on everything.  That included equipment, marketing, outreach and salaries.  Our first mailout went to 5,000 homes because that’s how much money we had.  If we got something on Sunday, we spent it on Monday.

I write about fundraising in my upcoming book, and I’m sure we’ll hit on it in an upcoming coaching network.

Virtual Tour

We’re honored to host church planters on a regular basis, and show them everything we do on Sunday mornings at the theater.  But everyone can’t make it on a Sunday, so I filmed a video basically walking people around, showing you how we do things.  Hopefully, it’s the next best thing to visiting in person.  Let us know if you have any questions or if you see anything we can do better.

How Much Money?

A lot of the questions that we get a lot from church planters (we love church planters!) are about money. What’s an early budget like? How much money did you raise?

From January 1, 2006 – when we got serious with gearing up for launch – to August 20, 2006 (our grand opening service), we spent about $50,000.

We would have spent more if we had it, but that’s all we raised. I tell people that church planting will cost everything that you have. We would have done it with less; we would have certainly spent more.

Our first direct mail was 5,000 pieces…that’s all we could afford. When we got money on Sunday, we’d but the next thing on our list. Our first budgets were, in retrospect, kind of funny, because we didn’t really know how much things cost.

How much will is cost? Everything you got.

Launching Large 5: Don’t Do It

As a church plant, everything you do will be for the first time.  This makes each decision infinitely more important, and that much tougher.  You will face the temptation to start programs and ministries, because that’s what other churches do.

Don’t do it.

In addition to focusing hard on Sunday, you have to purposely turn off some other things.  But I want to take it a litte deeper than that, because even when it comes to Sunday, you’re not going to be able to do everything as well as you would like to do it.

That’s why you play to your strengths.

Do what you do well, and just get by on the other things.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  If you’re a great speaker, but your music isn’t where you want it, don’t try and have 30 minutes of worship becaues that’s what Hillsong does.  Do a few songs and get on with it.  If you don’t have a video guy that can produce amazing videos, don’t have amazing video.  Focus on what you do well, and develop the rest.  If you don’t have someone on your staff passionate about groups, don’t try and start groups…focus on something that you can do well.

The other important stuff will come to the surface over time.

Launching Large 4: Sunday

Again, this might be simple advice, but it’s often overlooked.  As a church plant, I think you should focus 80% of your energy on getting ready for Sunday.  This is the time when most people will connect with your church for the first time.  So, you need to do everything you can to have a good Sunday service.  It really doesn’t matter if you have great accounting or accountability or small groups or anything else if people come to a sucky Sunday service and never come back to your church.

In the early months when money was tight (come to think of it, that hasn’t changed), we had to make many judgement calls on money.  We always cut the things not related to Sunday.  For example, should we get an office copier or a few new lights?  Well, lights make Sunday better…a copier saves me a trip to Kinkos…so we went with Sunday.

Here’s some other things you can do to make Sunday count.

  • Resist the urge to do other things instead of working on your message.  If you’re the pastor, your message is your bread and butter, and it can’t suffer because you’re trying to learn how to work Quickbooks.
  • The message is bigger than the sermon.  Your greeters, music, and exit greeters are reinforcing the days message.  Are the bathrooms clean?  Are your signs clear?
  • Don’t try and act like a real church, except on Sunday.  You can’t compete with the church down the street offering ladies ministry, awanas, financial counseling and recovery ministry.  Don’t even try!  Focus on Sunday until you get it down.
  • Make sure everyone on staff has key, visible places of leadership on Sunday.  I had our Executive Pastor running kids check in for a while.  Everybody on staff works from 6am-1pm on Sundays.  They don’t leave when church is over to have lunch with people…they stay to help tear down.
  • Spend time in staff meetings talking about how to make Sunday better.  Evaluate ruthlessly.
  • Improve visible things.  Changing a few signs can be an inexpensive way to make improvements.
  • Hire a band.  In the early days of not having a worship leader, we just hired bands to lead for us on Sunday mornings.  We just pretended like they were our worship leaders.