A friend who is planting a new church emailed the other day and asked me about some of the best things I did as Life Covenant Church was starting. I started to write down the first few things that came to mind, and what came out are some small practices that looking back have had a big impact on the culture of our church (most of which I adapted from others). In no particular order . . .
- Start talking about planting more churches from your very first launch team meeting. Get it in people’s DNA, and never let them forget this is bigger than them and whether or not they have a church they like. Make sure they know planting is a function of mission, not church size. Helps keep people outward focused.
- As you recruit volunteers, especially team leaders, make them schedule their first day off. It communicates that you care more about them then what they do, creates a burnout-isn’t-ok culture, and forces them from day one to teach others to do what they do, creating a second and third tier of leaders in training. Contributes greatly to a culture of empowerment.
- Start every meeting talking about “wins.” There will be time to talk about losses too, but this sets the tone for the meeting and reminds everyone that God is awesome, even on dark days. Helps momentum and positivity.
- Write down everything that needs to be done to start this new church, and put a column next to it where you will write the name of the person responsible for getting it done. Write your name next to those items that you and only you can do. Write someone else’s name next to everything else. Spend your first twenty minutes of every workday delegating and following up on these tasks. Contributes to a culture of empowerment and equipping.
- Keep it simple. Decide on a few things you are going to call people to, and don’t crowd the schedule with too much more. We tell people we want everyone involved in Sundays, a small group and/or mentoring relationship, and serving in compassion and justice. We don’t do much else, and consequently people do these things (75%+ involvement)
- Keep the bar high. Call people to a full-bodied, robust Christianity. Those who are already believers (vs unchurched or dechurched) but want to be there as semi-anonymous non-participants pad your numbers but weaken the church. You can accomplish more with 100 believers who really want to go for it than with 500 who think your service is better than the one down the street (for an interesting perspective on this from the business world, check out Tribes by Seth Godin).