Church Planting

Keys to Becoming A Successful Church Planter – Part 2

keysSince I shared the first post of this series (click here to read), it’s become official… I have spent over half of my years involved with church planting in one way or another – as a preacher’s kid, staff member, lead planter and now as a coach and trainer to other church planters.

Years of observation, great mentors, and many days spent at the school of hard knocks have taught me a few lessons I’m sharing…

The first key to being a successful church planter is to become a “Master Asker” (read more), Church Planting Success Key #2 is demonstrating Big Faith With A Plan (FWAP).

One of the most common traits associated with church planters is faith – and that’s correct.  Starting a new church from scratch, often with nothing more than God’s call on your life, is a profound act of faith. But faith in and of itself is not enough.

“Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone.” – James 2:14

Success in church planting requires that you also bring along Faith’s 1st cousin, Faithfulness.

For example, you might have FAITH that God can connect you with just the right “persons of peace” in your community to expand our new church’s influence beyond anything you can imagine right now.

However…

  • Do you have the FAITHFULNESS to prepare a 30-minute, 3-minute and 30-second presentation of what your church is about and how you’re going to make a positive, eternal difference in people’s lives?
  • Do you have the FAITHFULNESS to get online, get on the phone and (most importantly) get out in the community and strike up a conversation every time an opportunity arises, never knowing when or how God might connect the dots?
  • Do you have the FAITHFULNESS to prepare ahead of time to develop a plan to follow up with new believers, interested people from the community or potential partners, readying yourself to cooperate with God every step of the way?
  • Do you have the FAITHFULNESS to sit down and write down a strategy – on purpose, on paper – to launch this new church on a specific date in the future, including all the steps it will take between now and then to make it happen?

Let’s stick with that last question for a moment… the question of developing and executing a strategy.  This is vital, not only for church planting but for leadership in general.  It’s how new initiatives come to fruition, how problems are solved and ministries are made more effective.

No wonder Proverbs reminds us both that planning and hard work are good and skipping them are bad:

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5

And by the same token, by putting together a strategy and working that plan we’re also ready to be redirected by God if need be:

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

See, Faith With A Plan is simply a different way of describing Faithfulness – the willingness to take whatever steps are necessary to act in faith even when the outcome is still in question.

To say it another way, having Faith With A Plan means trusting God enough to invest the time and energy to pray through and plan out how to move forward, then working that plan even when circumstances are difficult.

As you travel the path of church planting, you may hear stories of failed or stunted church plants that seemed to have “everything going for them.” One of the culprits that lead to such devastation is a healthy dose of faith without the accompanying faithfulness to work up a plan, then work out that plan.

My prayer is that you will choose a different path – that of Faith With A Plan.

Looking for assistance on developing your church planting strategy?  Check out these resources:

 Book-Launch  CP_resources

Keys to Becoming A Successful Church Planter – Part 1

I’ve had the privilege of being involved in church planting in one form or another (from preacher’s kid to lead planter) for nearly half of my lifetime, and one of my greatest joys has been the opportunity to train hundreds of planters over the last few years.

Along the way, I’ve developed a keen eye to be on the lookout for successful church planters.  Keep in mind that only God knows people’s hearts (1 Samuel 16:7), but more often than not after a little time together I can get a pretty good idea about how successful a church planter is going to be.

And for the sake of this topic, let’s define success as cooperating most fully with God to see maximum Kingdom results through your new church plant – lives transformed through Jesus Christ.

There are almost always a few “winners” around when a group is gathered, although not necessarily the planters you might think.  For example, I can’t identify your church plant’s future success by your…

  • Worship style
  • Clothes
  • Brand of theology
  • Ethnicity
  • Geographic location
  • Or any other visible differences

No, the keys to whether or not your new church will be successful are a little harder to find, but they are vitally important for a number of reasons. These keys only reveal themselves during the course of conversation.

The first key to becoming a successful church planter is that you must be (or be willing to become) a “master asker.”  It’s a bit of an odd phrase, but one that you hopefully won’t forget, and here’s the idea…

As a church planter and throughout the life of your new church, you’ll need to constantly develop and improve your skills at asking.

Successful Church Planters will master the skills to ask for…

  • Prayer – You need to ask those closest to you and those who care about you and your target area to be praying for your new church and those who will be reached through it.
  • Funding – You must be able to clearly and compellingly ask pastors, denominational leaders and even individuals to invest their limited Kingdom funds in your not-yet-existent church plant.
  • Someone to Lead Worship – My good friend and mentor, Nelson Searcy, has identified that the ability to raise funds and to enlist a quality worship leader are two of the most important success factors of any church planters.  I firmly agree.
  • Volunteers – Throughout your tenure as a planter and pastor, you’ll be sharing with people the awesome opportunity of serving in the local church.  Now’s the time to learn how to properly and effectively ask them (or prayerfully reconsider your calling).
  • Unchurched Attendees – Let’s face it, you’re planting a church to reach out to people who aren’t currently being reached. You need to research your community, pray about creative ways to reach them and talk to other pastors who’ve gone before you, but you’d better make it a point to get out into the community, meet your neighbors and develop the skills (and the boldness) to ask them to attend your new church!
  • Commitments to Christ – Don’t lose sight of the fact that we’re planting churches to fulfill the Great Commission – therefore, you need to continue honing your skills at presenting the gospel and asking people to respond.
  • And on and on and on…

But the point is clear: Success in church planting (and later in pastoring a healthy, growing church) requires that a leader become a Master Asker.

The best news I have for you today is that you CAN develop your asking skills.  It’s not one of those things you’re either born with or not – here are a few books and resources that will help you plant your new church and, specifically, become a master asker:

Book-AladdinFactor Book-Launch Book-Yes CP_resources

Never More Proud

I have never been prouder of the Iron City family than I was yesterday afternoon.  I had the joy of helping Ami M. and six or seven other servant-leaders from ICC distribute and wrap all the toys that we collected over the last few weeks. 

As a part of our Christmas Conspiracy, we partnered with our friends at Faithbridge Community Church to help out their community during the holiday season.  One of the greatest needs that was shared was the very real concerns of parents – many of whom have lost jobs this year – who were afraid that they may not have anything to give to their children this Christmas.  We shared this need with Iron City and they responded in unbelievable fashion, overflowing the collection boxes every week.

In three short weeks, we collected enough toys to fill a Honda Element and to make Christmas morning special for a couple dozen families in McKees Rocks.  In addition, we were able to tangibly demonstrate the love of Jesus to an anxious bunch of parents.  And as I watched grateful parents file in and out of the gift room yesterday I was reminded of this passage:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.   James 1:27 (NIV)


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