by Patrick Bradley: You may need to find some temporary launch team members if you find yourself short a few hands as you gear up for the launch of your worship gatherings.
Building a Launch Team is hard work. Some planters get a head start through several families coming with them from a sending church. Some convince friends or family to move across country to the new community.
But whether you have a head start or not, you still have to recruit plenty more from the community. Believers and not-yet-believers both.
You need somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 40-50 adults on your launch team to fully staff weekly worship gatherings. The ‘new normal’ weekend experience with excellent music, quality children’s ministry, hot coffee hospitality, video projection, etc. creates a serious demand for volunteers.
With fewer than 40 workers, you won’t be able to fully staff the various ministries. Or worse, you’ll use every volunteer every Sunday to pull of the gatherings and burn them out quickly.
About a month from your launch of weekly worship gatherings, you need to have most of the 40+ adults on the team. Every planter puts in lots of prayer, time on the ground, and hard work. Even so, some planters I’ve supported over the years found themselves with no more than 30 workers about a month out. Finding another 10 committed launch team members in the last few weeks is unusual. And it’s certainly not enough time for them to fully catch the vision and get adequate training in their ministry area.
Barrelling ahead with only 30 yields predictable results: volunteer shortages and burnout. One alternative to postponing launch is finding…
Temporary Launch Team Members
I’ve heard them called lots of things over the years:
SWAT Team (servants willing and temporary)
The basic idea is that you approach other churches in your region. The temporary launch team members commit to a fixed term, often 6 months, with the express understanding that they will return to the sending church at the end of their term. The sending church doesn’t feel threatened that you’re stealing anyone. And the workers don’t feel like they’re signing up for a life sentence.
Start with churches in your tribe or network. But God may very well have been preparing another congregation in your city and they’re just waiting to be asked. I’ve seen it.
You’d work with that church to provide already-trained workers for specific ministry roles, like:
playing in the band
teaching kids (make sure they’ve passed a background check)
Though they come trained, you will need to brief them on your church plant’s mission and vision so that they can live it out while they’re with you. They also need a basic understanding of your church’s values, strategies and events calendar.
One question that you need to think through in advance is whether you’d be asking for their tithes, too. Work that out with the sending church. They may or may not be OK with the temporary launch team members transferring their giving for the 6 months.
Having them, especially for a fixed term, creates some stability and buys you time to grow your indigenous team.
But it’s not a viable solution for much more than 6 months. The workers will get tired, long for home or resent the situation. Your church will be addicted to the extra workers and hit crisis when they inevitably depart.
Instead, at the end of their term, find ways to celebrate their contribution and send them back with a blessing.
If you find yourself short of the number of launch team members you’ve been praying for, consider recruiting some temporary ones.