What does it take to plant a church?
More specifically, what are the prerequisites? What do you need in order to begin the process. I’ve written another article about the process of church planting itself, but you gotta have some stuff up front.
Here’s a list which many Christians might assume are the first things you have to have:
- A group of 30 or more people from the mother-church who will help get the new church started
- One charismatic leader (not necessarily “tongue-speaking” charismatic, but “rally-the-troops” charismatic)
- Cloud software
- Marketing strategy
Well, I disagree.
Looking at the New Testament, we see simple churches which were devoted to the Apostles’ Teaching, prayer, community, and good works.
With that in mind, in my experience, this is all you need:
You don’t need 30 to start with. You don’t even need 10.
In fact, Tim Keller in Redeemer Church Planting Manual said, “Dozens of studies confirm that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations.”
For reasons I don’t completely understand, God blesses new church plants with a great propensity to convert non-believers. Let that be your main strategy, rather than just finding other Christians. Actually make new disciples.
Church planting comes with plenty of difficulties. A supportive family is a must. Everyone in your household should be on board with the mission, and participating in it themselves as well.
And you got your two church plants right there.
And it didn’t cost you half a million dollars to do it.
Many church planters think that the first steps is buying a plot of land or a even a building. But that’s where you get your wildly obese expense list.
Believe it or not, a building is all but unnecessary to fulfill the functions of a church based on New Testament principles.
If you notice, I said, “gift-set” instead of “skill-set”. It’s the Holy Spirit that makes anything move in the mission of His church, so I want to be clear that it is not just about what cool things we’ve learned to do. It’s about the gifts which God gives us.It's the #HolySpirit that makes anything move in the mission of His #church. Click To Tweet
That being said, I should qualify the section above titled “Few People”. In truth, you only need a few people, but you gotta have the right people.
Build a team which collectively carries these gifts between the people:
No single person should be responsible to be expertly gifted in all areas. God made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers after all. But your team should have all of these things before moving forward.
Other things to look for in a team which are not necessarily listed as “gifts” in the New Testament, but are more character qualities, are as follows:
- Faithfulness to God’s Word (obviously).
- The ability to just get things done (You ever met someone like this? If you have, you know exactly what I mean. These people just blow my mind with their productivity.)
- Perseverance. The ability to overcome many obstacles.
- The ability to influence people.
- The ability to network effectively.
- An intimate knowledge of people and the demographics and culture in the region you’re planting in.
Another reason it costs so much to plant a church with a traditional mindset is that so much money is spent on advertising and marketing.
So rather than building large marketing campaigns, build neighborhood campaigns. Build it into the DNA of your churches that every person would reach out into their own neighborhood to build relationships and share Christ.
Reading this section, I bet that most people will probably say to themselves, “I agree. You’re preaching to the choir, Nate,” but if we’re honest with ourselves, getting people to do this is like pulling teeth. With our staunch individualism, Americans don’t like to be friends with their neighbors.
Labor diligently to establish your people in this specific quality of caring for their own neighborhoods.Rather than building large #marketing campaigns, build #neighborhood campaigns. Click To Tweet
Reliance on God
And lastly, you can’t write an article about church planting without giving God the glory. It’s all Him.
Pray. Trust God. Persevere. Pray. Obey His Word. Believe in God’s promises. Look forward to His rewards in Heaven. Pray. Persist in love and good works. And… oh yeah, Pray!
Also published on Medium.