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10 Things They Never Tell You About Church Planting!

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10. Your house will be full of stuff you cannot store in the venue you are hiring for your services. You won’t be able to get a glass of milk without tripping over speakers, cables, leaflets, music stands, offering envelopes and boxes of Sunday School toys.

9. The first people to come to a new church are often Christians that have weak or no social ties at their existing church(es). There is a reason why that is the case – they are often people who struggle to form social ties and build relationships for a whole host of reasons.

8. The most precious resource you have – and the scarcest – is not going to be money, though money will probably be scarce at first – but volunteers. Be prepared to do everything yourself at first, from setting up the PA, to setting up the chairs, to cleaning the toilets, to opening the service, doing the notices, preaching and Sunday school. Celebrate and honour good volunteers!

7. People will come for a week or two and disappear, and you will never see them again. Don’t take it personally!

6. The other pastors in town are not going to welcome you with open arms. People who ten years ago did exactly what you are doing now for the same reasons and the love for God are going to distrust your motives and your love for God!

5. Because you are small, some people are going to come to your church because it amplifies their voice and vote. Whereas they have zero say in a church of 400, in a church of 14 they can make themselves heard. Be careful who you give your platform too, and never hand it over (again, if you missed it) to someone who attacks your vision, or wants to moan about any of the other churches they used to go to. Don’t be afraid if someone leaves just because you won’t give them a platform, let them go!

4. Your numbers will fluctuate wildly at first. Until you reach 60+ people you will not have a core group really, and the people being away will not balance out. Sometimes you may have to preach to 1. Preach like there is 100. Preach your heart out every time – people will talk, and people will hear about it.

3. You have no idea – and no amount of thinking you do will help – how much you influence and impact the entire culture of the church. People will pray the way you pray, talk the way you talk, love how you love, minister how you minister. It’s scary, eerie, but you are the leader, so keep leading. If you think people are drawn to you not Christ, keep preaching Christ, they will eventually get plugged in to Him – and eventually realize you are not all that!

2. There are hundreds of ways to advertise and promote your church. But true growth comes when you grow the people who come and get out into your town and meet people. It is hard work growing a church.

1. It is worth it. It is worth every late night, early morning, every tear you shed over someone who leaves, every fear you have it will have to be closed down, every pain you go through. When you stand up to preach one day and look over the church and see people whose marriage would be over without the church, who would still be sick, still be lost, still be hopeless, your heart soars, and it is the greatest feeling on earth.

Church Planting

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A sociologist, after studying the spread of Christianity across the world in several countries, said that there is no single more effective way of increasing the number of active Christians in an area of the world is to plant new churches.

As someone who has – as of last weekend – planted two churches in two very different areas, I think that is an accurate conclusion.  Church planting is effective – it attracts people who for whatever reason have not made contact with, or in worst case scenarios, been hurt by – the established churches in the area.  It raises the mood in the area and it forces you to focus on how to reach those who have never been reached.  

Just reflecting back on last weekend, which I consider to be a total success, there are three things I have learned that maybe some of the wannabe church planters, or even those who just have an interest in these matters might want to consider.

Firstly, church planting starts off as maximum effort.  What made this weekend about fifty times easier than starting the Dagenham church was the number of people who drove hours and hours this weekend helping out, making teas, greeting people, sharing their lives, cleaning and setting out chairs, playing guitars, and doing all the stuff that needed to be done.  When we first started out Tree of Life in Essex, we did all that ourselves, and if we couldn’t do it, it couldn’t get done.  I think this really bears well when we  consider planting in Watford next year, as it means there will be even more helpers around to invest in the church plant.  That makes a massive massive massive difference.  My advice to anyone looking to plant a church is this: GET AS MUCH HELP AS POSSIBLE.  We had more people come to our first Healing Crusade (which was in Barkingside) than we did in the Guildford one, but we lost people because we did not have the structure in place to keep them.  Here, the people who came will be with us when we officially launch regular services in two weeks’ time because we did have the helpers.  Everyone who came and helped is absolutely awesome, and will get many, many rewards in heaven!  That’s awesome.

Secondly, the most important thing isn’t how slick you are but how much you care.  One of the realities about Tree of Life Dagenham is that as it is growing (another 100+ day yesterday, praise the Lord – five first time visitors, one of whom got saved, another got baptized in the Holy Spirit) things that were informal have to become formalized to cope with the growth.  Praise God for the Living Churches where you can still meet in a house and share the Word and teach and help one another and love each other.  That way we get the benefit of big and the benefit of small.  But when you are starting you are small.  Rather than hate that, use that.  You can say hello to everyone, find out everyone’s name, have some fun with everyone.  Use that to your advantage.

Thirdly, always celebrate every step of the way.  The first family, the first healing, the first salvation, the first baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Everything when you are new is just awesome.  They say with children you adore the first but enjoy the second.  I think it is the same with church planting, I am thoroughly enjoying myself in a way that I could not with Dagenham because it was so intense and everything was new.  This is fun, and I love it.

Selah!

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