It’s A Long Season
We’re now a couple weeks into the 2023 Major League Baseball season. How’s your team doing? If they’re struggling to find the win column, don’t lose hope. It turns out that last year’s National League champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, stumbled out of the gates to a record of 22-29, but then reorganized their coaching staff and ended up winning the pennant.
That’s one of the beauties of the MLB season. It’s long – 168 games. Its length makes it possible to overcome a bad start. If you’ve planted and are struggling to see the wins adding up, don’t lose hope. Church planting is a long season. You’ll win some, and you’ll lose some, but remember that it’s a marathon, not a spirit.
Our church, New Life Christian Church, didn’t get off to a fast start. For the first several months we averaged around 45 people in weekend worship attendance. Fortunately, our leaders kept praying and working to share the gospel with their community and eventually the church began to grow and reproduce.
New Life’s leaders learned that it’s hard to overcome a tough start, but it’s possible. They also learned that some of the biggest mistakes of a church plant are made before the church ever hosts a public worship gathering. It’s then when the culture of the church is like wet cement. It’s being shaped by the activities and narratives of the core team. Those early rhythms soon harden and shape the culture of the church for years to come.
That’s why Passion for Planting strives to help new churches start strong with great focus and intentionality. That way they don’t have to overcome a bad start.
No matter where you are in your church planting journey, keep moving forward and trust that God will produce the wins in his timing. We believe God will bless your perseverance, if you don’t give up. That’s why we’ve filled this month’s newsletter with resources to help you start strong, focused and with intentionality. Enjoy!
-Patrick Bradley, Director of Operations
April 2023 – Content
- Launch Vision Template
- Discipleship Training Process
- Church Planter Training Cohort
- Give God Some Credit
Launch Vision Template
One key to starting strong in a church plant is having clarity on and unity in vision. Are you and your core team clear on where God is leading your church in the next days, months and years? Do you all have the same preferred future in mind for the church? Is your vision clear enough that you can communicate it with your words, so others can see it and pursue it along with you? Is it compelling enough to motivate people to sacrifice their time, money and energy to make it reality?
To help you encapsulate your vision in words and images so others can be infected by it, we’ve developed our Launch Vision Template. This tool will guide you in collecting stories, pictures, and stats to showcase your vision to potential financial supporters, launch team members, and community leaders. It’ll help you make your vision contagious. Start developing yours today with the help of our template and check out some samples on our free downloads page.
Discipleship Training Process
One common mistake church planters make when starting is neglecting to train their launch team members to be disciple makers. Oftentimes church planters gather a crowd of people and then try to turn them into a church by giving them roles to play on ministry teams and at outreach events. While serving in those roles are important, they aren’t as important as learning how to be everyday missionaries where they live work and play. Yes, church planters need to train their people to live as deployed missionaries.
How can you do this? One way is developing a small groups model that’s focused not just on community, Bible study, and prayer, but also on disciple-making training. One group format that does all of that is the Three Thirds Process. It emphasizes action and next steps – not just knowledge acquisition. Since it’s so different from many traditional small group formats, we recommend you start implementing it with your very first group and ingrain the discipleship culture into the church from day one. To learn how this training format played an essential role in a disciple-making movement that reaches millions in China read T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution by Steve Smith and Ying Kai.
Church Planter Training Cohort
It’s hard to overcome a bad start because organizational change is always painful. That’s why implementing something new, like a new small groups model, will have its challenges. It may feel like turning an aircraft carrier. Church members are so used to doing what they’ve always done (or not done), it’ll take a disproportionate amount of time and effort to inspire, train, and empower them to do something different.
This’s why our Church Planter Distance Residency Cohort equips leaders to start healthy, reproducing church – ones that don’t need to overcome bad starts. Our residency program prepares you to develop and implement systems and processes that support the growth and reproduction of a church from day one.
Through the cohort, you’ll learn from seasoned leaders how to clarify your vision and develop contextualized strategies for turning that vision into reality – all while building meaning friendships with other church planters. Our next 9-month cohort starts in September. To reserve a spot for this cohort, whether for you or a leader you know, email us today. Need training, but can’t wait until September? Consider participating in our Church Planter Boot Camp.
Give God Some Credit
If you’re discouraged because you’re not seeing much fruit in your ministry, try giving God some credit. He’s at work even when we don’t see it. That’s the story of New Life Christian Church, Passion for Planting’s parent ministry. When New Life turned 20 years old, our Senior Minister, Brett Andrews, wrote a small book to showcase this truth and encourage discouraged church leaders to persevere and give God some credit when they can’t see Him working.
The book aptly named Give God Some Credit reveals that New Life didn’t start strong out of the blocks, but God was at work. With humor and great wisdom, Brett shares how and why your best days as a church as still to come if you give God some credit and take risks for his Kingdom. It’s a short read and we think it’ll encourage you. Download your free copy today and keep moving forward with purpose.