1. Getting Started
Where do you start? There is so much that must happen from the time you show interest in planting a church up through launch day. This church planting tutorial (and our free resources, our online planning system and our full-service support) are all aimed at helping a church planter launch a healthy church. The following provides an overview of the key items that a church planter must deal with through launch (not necessarily completed in this order). You can either follow this church planting tutorial through sequentially by clicking on the buttons in the sidebar (recommended path for completing this tutorial) or you can jump around to a specific topic using the menu on the right.
2. Calling – The first step is to verify your calling. Complete a pre-assessment (self-assessment) and a formal assessment. Pre-assessment involved completing a series of written surveys and reflections about yourself. Learn more…
3. Assessment – Formal assessment is typically a 1-5 day, on-site, in-depth review that culminates in a recommendation regarding your readiness to plant a church. Learn more…
4. Bootcamp & Training – Learning about church planting and what is required to get a healthy new church started. Actions include reading (see our suggested reading), attending conferences (e.g. Exponential Conference), networking with other church planters at pastors.com, reviewing online resources, and attending a boot camp.
5. Prayer Team – Get a prayer team started as soon as possible (one of your first actions). Use a group email program such as Constant Contact. See how quickly you can get 50-100 people praying for you and get weekly prayer emails out. Prayer is obviously one of the keys to the health of your new church. Learn more about starting a prayer team.
6. Coach – Find an experienced coach with church planting experience to work with you through at least launch (preferably beyond). Learn more…
7. Church Planting Model – There are a number of different models to use in starting a new church (e.g. house churches, parachute, team, independent, mother/daughter, etc.). Will you have a primary sponsor such as an established church, a denomination, an independent church planting organization? It’s important to recruit partners before you begin and as you go. You’re not alone! There are many ways to plant a church and many organizations that are willing to help. Click here to learn more.
8. Launch Plan – Develop a detailed plan of action (customized launch plan) to get you from where you are to where you want to be at launch. We suggest starting with looking ahead to opening day. What will it look like? Our free template launch plan checklist is a great place to start in turning the vision for the future into an action plan. We specialize in launch strategy development and management via our PlanterPlan online planning system and our Full Service Project Management Support.
- Strategy -After clarifying the vision of your church you need to develop a strategy that will bring that vision to fruition (i.e. fundraising, marketing, outreach, staffing, discipleship, etc.)
- Schedule – After developing a detailed launch plan, put dates to the actions within (i.e. develop a schedule timeline of when specific actions need to be completed to support your launch date).
- Launch – Start by defining “launch” in your context. There are several different definitions of launch. Some churches have a launch day, while others have a launch month. Some choose preview services with an official launch months later. Figure out what is best in your context.
- Delegation / Help – Don’t do anything in your launch plan that someone else can do. Delegate actions to your spouse, core team volunteers, part-time high school students, interns, staff, etc. There are many actions that can and should be completed by others. Be creative.
- Core Team Development – The health of your church at launch will largely rise or fall on the size and commitment of your core team. Make it a priority to stay focused on people; particularly your core team. You will feel a constant tension between the seemingly endless details that must be taken care of and spending time developing relationships.
- Learn more…
9. Philosophy of Ministry – Before developing a detailed plan of action to get your from where you are to where you want to be at launch, spend time developing a Philosophy of Ministry (purpose, values, beliefs, structure, strategy, priorities, etc.). Click here for our template paper that will help guide you through this process.
10. Opening Day – Paint the picture of what your opening day will look like. This is not the end of the journey, rather, it’s just the beginning, but it’s wise to plan to start on solid ground. Learn more…
11. Demographics – It’s vital that you learn as much about the area you’re considering. Invest time into understanding the tools that are available to help you on this critical step. We offer FREE demographic reports to get you started. Here are two key areas you need to understand:
- Church Location: Determine the city or area where the new church will be located. Visit the potential areas, and talk with other local churches.
- Target Audience: Develop a clear picture of the average family in your target area. Obtain demographic information to help assist you in defining who you will reach.
- Learn more…
12. Legal Issues – To become a recognized legal entity, certain legal considerations must be made. Click here for a step by step guide.
There’s a lot to consider…these are the areas planters ask us about all the time!
13. Finances – After developing a detailed launch plan, determine what the required funds are to support the plan. Don’t be discouraged. Your first attempt at a budget that supports the actions you’d like to take will come up short. Generally the three largest areas in a new church budget are staffing, equipment and marketing. One of three things will happen at this stage:
- Cut back on the number and type of actions to reduce spending
- Commit to raising additional funds to support the plan of action. Use the plan as a vision tool for raising more money. Revise your fundraising plan.
- Some combination of 1 and 2 above!
Click here to learn more about finance/budgeting.
14. Marketing (i.e., Name Recognition / Branding ) – The prenatal phase through launch is all about building momentum. At launch, your strategy is to have a crowd. Drawing a crowd at launch will largely be based on your ability to foster a culture of “friends inviting friends” and the name recognition you have in the community. Constantly look for ways to brand your new church in the community and to build name recognition. Don’t make the mistake that so many new churches make in relying on a direct mail campaign to develop name recognition. Instead, your strategy should be to develop broad name recognition before your large direct mail campaign is delivered (if you do one). Click here to learn more about marketing.
15. Outreach – Planting a new church is all about reaching the lost for Christ. This requires some specific wisdom and knowledge about the people in your target area, their needs, resources, etc. There are tons of resources available to you — your real job is all about prioritization. Learn more…
16. Equipment – Equipment represents a significant percentage of total expenses for a new church. Simply managing the list of required equipment can be a daunting task. Learn more….
17. Facilities – You must decide where the new church will meet. Most new churches meet in rented facilities such as schools, movie theaters and community centers. These facilities are “safe” for seekers and typically cost less than purchasing a facility. Click here for more information.
18. Staffing – Staffing is one of the most important things you will do. Spend the necessary time doing your homework. Don’t cut corners. Hire the right people at the right time. Click here for free hiring resources.
19. Suggested Reading – There are so many books these days from a wide variety of ministry backgrounds. That’s good news as well as troubling because it’s hard to know where to invest your time reading. Collectively, we’ve read hundreds of books and personally know many authors of some great books to get you started. Click here for a sampling of the top twenty (or so…we’ll keep revising this as we go!) recommended reading.
20. Multisite – While we are strong advocates of church planting new churches, there is more than one way to expand and reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ. In this lesson we’ll examine multi-site, multi-venue, video venues, multiple campuses, etc., as a way to grow the church . Learn more…
21. Legacy / Restart – Over the years we have learned that churches all go through cycles of growth and decline just like every entity. To avoid the heartbreak of closing your church’s doors, perhaps you need to restart, to celebrate the years of success and start over from the beginning. Here are some thoughts for you to consider as you move in this direction. Learn more…
22. Exponential – Exponential.org is a community of leaders that have already navigated the difficult course of planting churches in practically every Christian church genre. Exponential is committed to providing you great resources and the key partner of Passion for Planting. Mark your calendars for the next Exponential conference, checkout their website loaded with FREE resources and spread the word! Learn more…
23. Final Thoughts – Don’t be overwhelmed. There are so many resources available to help you. Take your time, this is a marathon, not a sprint!
PlanterPlan -- Free Tool
You'll see links to PlanterPlan throughout this tutorial. PlanterPlan is a FREE online tool designed to walk you through hundreds of tasks, in priority order, to help you launch an amazing church.PlanterPlan.com