When we started Oasis Church in 1984, we started with 10 people in a home Bible Study. On our launch day, we had 60 people.
On the second Sunday we had 35 people.
On the third Sunday we had about 25.
I started thinking, “at this rate, in about 5 weeks, it’s going to be just me and Holly.” …I had doubts about some aspects of my launch team.
We actually decreased down to 10 people a couple of Sunday’s during the first few months. …Painful!
Starting right is so important. Starting wise and strong is an important part of the journey.
We made many mistakes in getting started (I can’t bear to tell you all of them but) here are 7…
1. Not having a church or pastor supporting me
2. Not having a clear & impassioned vision
3. Not planning the launch date with wise timing for your family life
4. Not choosing a visible, easy to find and adequate location
You know what they say, ”Location, Location, Location.”
This is a hard one because on one hand you’re just happy to find any place. We looked at schools, community centers, wedding chapels and hotel banquet rooms.
I thought about all those odd places that “successful churches” started in – God blessed them and they grew anyway!!!
…Apparently we weren’t going to be one of those.
Adequate space for children that was safe, clean and close enough to the main room turned out to be important.
Plenty of close and accessible parking is good.
Restrooms that were clean and well lit are a plus. Some people weren’t there for strictly “spiritual reasons.”
A location that’s simple to find was huge.
It’s hard to believe now, the location we picked out then. We started our church in a middle school auditorium. It was about 2 miles up into the hills, off of a main road. The location was hard to find, not to mention in a very uncomfortable and uninspiring room. In the winter months, it was too cold. It felt like you could hang meat in there. Even for LA – it was too cold. No heat and no air-condition. What were we thinking?
You don’t have to force the start of your new church by starting in a poor location. God will provide the right place.
5. Not Building the Right Launch & Leadership Team
Your launch team and leadership team are crucial.
Your launch team will probably end up being different than your leadership team.
Your launch team should be made up of people who share your vision and are willing to dedicate themselves to help you plant this church.
ARC suggests you have about 35 people on your launch team.
We had about 5 people. We prayed together…. but not much else. We didn’t even prepare intelligently.
Be careful about choosing people just because they’re interested. Willing and faithful people are the best.
The launch team and leadership team should be different than “breathing, living bodies that will come to your church”. The launch and leadership team are people who respect you as their new pastor; people who believe that God has called them to serve you and to invest tremendous time and energy into your vision and giving birth to a miracle.
Some friends love you and enjoy hanging out with you but will have a difficult time considering you “their pastor.”
In-laws, frustrated and disgruntled church members from other “less spiritual churches than yours is going to be” former but divisive leaders, or people you’ve talked into coming, do not make a healthy launch team.
6. Not starting with enough money
We started with 10 people and about $100.
We believed God would provide all the money we needed in the tithes and offerings after we started.
…If only everyone attending believed that too.
So lets re-evaluate. Not enough people on an unprepared launch team, not enough money and a bad location. Nice.
Today, church planters should probably raise between $75,000 to $100,00 to begin the new church plant.
It’s important to raise money before you get started. It could help you make it through times of change. It helps you through the lean Sundays. No need to stress about everything.
When you raise that much money, it’s evidence that you actually have people who support your vision – not just with their words and well wishes but their heart.
7. Not having adequate pre-launch meetings
Have meetings that include vision casting, discipleship and planning.
Have times of prayer and worship. Have strategy meetings. This could take 4 to 6 months. It’s not a hard rule but it allows you to truly know people on your team and how they will work together with you.
Work this. One church planter told me, “we are having 2 months of monthly meetings.” That does not sound like “monthly meetings” to me – it sounds like … 2 meetings. That is not a great strategy.
Plan rehearsal services or run-throughs with sound, lights and prayer.
Take your time. Get accomplished what those meetings are supposed to accomplish.
Don’t hand out titles too early. It’s not necessary. You want servants not people who want a title. Appointing elders, assistant pastors and official ‘who-evers’ can turn normal people into a time bombs ready to blow. Choosing the right people is crucial.
These few issues can help you have a stronger start.
What mistakes did you make launching a church?