Planting a new church is proving to be the most effective and cost efficient way of reaching the unchurched and fulfilling the Great Commission. Between 2000-2020 an estimated 600,000 churches will be planted. Yet there are fewer churches per person in the US than there were in 1906. According to a survey done by Thomas Clegg in 1999, we are loosing 10 churches per day that close their doors forever. We are planting only 3.2 new churches per day. Based upon this survey only 50% of these new churches will survive. It is quite evident that there aren’t enough churches being planted to counteract the decline. This failure is primarily the result of two things: the Great Commission is not the central focus of the church and churches are being planted using outdated and ineffective methods.
God’s calling and anointing is the most significant factor for any church plant. Anyone attempting to plant without God’s calling won’t have to worry about success strategies. As Moses said to the Lord,
’If your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’ (Exodus 33:14-18)
If the Holy Spirit is not moving freely and attracting the lost to the church there is probably a bottle neck restricting Him. And bottle necks are always at the top. God will always entrust the hearts of the unchurched with those who are healthy and prepared to serve them.
The traditional orthodox church paradigm requires that people start where the church is. Churches that start where the people are by staying in touch with contemporary trends and the felt needs of their community are attracting the largest number of the unchurched by maintaining cultural relevance in style and approach, both musically and socially, as well as providing messages that are interesting, stimulating, credible and compelling.
Listed below are proven strategies that have been gleaned from hundreds of successful new church plants. "Successful" is defined as attracting the UNCHURCHED from the start and KEEPING them. These strategies will help to ensure the longevity and dynamic impact of any church.
Build A Foundation Of Prayer
All planting attempts will be aggressively attacked by the enemy. You will find yourself constantly involved in spiritual warfare.
Enlist a team of intercessors and prayer warriors to fast and pray before church has started.
Choose The Best Church Planter
The church planter must have a clear calling and anointing from God. He should match the target group and maintain an attitude of humility. He should seek out advice and wise counsel from experienced planters and coaches. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed’. (Prov 15:22 NIV)
Create A Unique Identity
The new church shouldn’t be a clone of an existing church. Create a professional image on all your publications. Coordinate the look of all your promotional and ministry materials.
Define The Target Group Of The New Church
Develop an individual profile of your target by studying the Psycho/Geo/Demo-graphic’s of the area.
Determine that there is a large un-churched population to draw from that is spiritually hungry.
Locate the church in a populated area both geographically and demographically.
Do a door-to-door survey to determine the spiritual and social needs as well as the interests of the areas residents.
Create Focus Groups To Determine Needs Of Community
Earn the respect of the community through focus groups made up of neighborhood / community leaders.
Find ways to serve the community.
Clearly Define Your Vision And Mission
Write a concise Vision and Mission statement that explains your purpose for existing. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:18 KJV)
Create A Detailed And Organized Written Plan
Define what ministry strategy / system(s) or program(s) your church will use for integrating, educating, and follow-up. (If NO strategy, then it’s just a fantasy!)
You must have clearly defined ministry focus. (A vision without a plan is just a dream!)
Chart out your flow of ministry starting from first visit through discipleship, leadership training and new ministry development church multiplication training.
Have Adequate Funding
Make sure you have adequate funding from various sources such as the denomination, a sponsoring church and personal contacts.
Create And Maintain A Reasonable Budget
The church must become self-supporting.
Begin The Church Start With A Team
It is easier to begin with a church planting team.
Have high quality teams in place prior to the first public launch service for worship, childcare, and assimilation.
Use Realistic Time Frames For Planning
Don’t expect instant results. Most successful church plants spent 12 to 18 months in planning and preparation before Grand Opening.
Create a detailed timeline of events and then stick to it.
Get Total Commitments From Supporters
Your plant plan should be enthusiastically embraced by your denomination, sponsoring church and ALL of the members of the core group.
Develop And Maintain A Good Relationship With The Sponsoring Church(es)
Keep in constant communication with the sponsor church(es), denomination, etc..
Choose The Best Possible Launch Site
The site should be easily accessible and highly visible with adequate space for parking, room for worship, and childcare.
Locate in the place where the members of the social networks of your target can most easily get together.
Develop A Team Leadership Strategy
Continually enlist and mentor potential church leaders. Adjust leadership roles as the church grows and the pastor’s role changes. Leadership must be zealous disciple-makers.
Spend Time On Outreach
Use well-designed promotional advertising materials such as direct mail invitation cards throughout the year.
25% to 50% of your time should be used for outreach.
Plan For Growth
Add adequate staff as you grow.
Try to add your second staff member before the church reaches 100 active adults.
Be proactive and plan ahead for growth and staffing the nursery, youth programs, Sunday School, adult programs, etc.
Grow By Expansion
Grow through reaching out and bringing others to Jesus.
Give weekend messages that are topical with realistic application towards meeting life goals. Consider subjects such as staying married, maintaining good health, growing morally and building character, improving the quality of life, developing long lasting friendships, etc.
Use midweek services / small groups for deeper bible study and discipleship training.
Offer multiple entry points to your church through small groups, worship services, bible studies, music, drama, the arts etc. Growth occurs as more small groups are started.
Provide multiple opportunities to develop meaningful relationships and ministry involvement.
Recognize the unchurched as important and significant.
Use Reproducible Methods
Think reproducible in the use of material things.
Don’t use anything that the people couldn’t provide for themselves.
Facilitate widespread participation among all regular attenders.
Offer options for those who get beyond the basics.
Become Doctrinally Stable
Members must know what they believe in order to become a mature church.
Provide Quality Information
Offer high quality Brochure’s that clearly spell out your Statement of Beliefs, History of the church, Vision and Mission, small group ministries, women’s, men’s, youth, etc., that are easy to understand.
Guests / Attendance
Genuinely welcome guests and provide personal follow-up.
Contact guests within 48 hours of their first visit.
Don’t single out or identify newcomers.
Avoid home visits and be cautious and sensitive when making post-visit phone calls.
Develop An Atmosphere Of Stewardship
Believers should cheerfully give to ministry. People usually put their money where their heart is.
Provide Quality Nursery Care And Sunday School For Kids
Have patient workers in a safe and fun environment.
Consider renaming your Sunday School to - Promise Land, Kingdom Kids, or Treasure Island, etc. Make it exciting and inviting!
Develop The Spiritual Gifts Of The Regular Attenders
Each attender is expected to use his/her gifts in ministry.
Establish high standards and expectations regarding involvement and personal spiritual growth.
Develop Mature Disciples
Have a clear definition of discipleship that is known and owned by the congregation. The lifelong goal of every believer should be to become Christ-like.
Follow-up individuals who accept Christ.
Emphasize people and their transformation rather than efficient programs.
Have a clear and measurable definition of success.
Offer a systematic approach to teaching and focus first on character issues, then knowledge.
Don’t emphasize small groups as the primary means to total spiritual growth.