Though I started ministry as a missionary to a small village on the outskirts of my hometown, leading to ministry among children and youth, it was a ministry in church planting and pioneering that I knew God had set my heart on. I had to learn a lot of lessons, most often the hard way. If you think God has called you to plant a church, then this post is for you! If you have any general questions about what is church, and what kind of church you should go to, here is an earlier post that I had written which would be helpful for you to read.
The most important thing in church planting is to know that God has called you for it. The second important thing is to know what God would have you to do through the churches that you plant that would be the vision of your church. If you have figured out those two things here are five tips that could help you to grow and prosper as a church planter.
1. Identifying the Place
This will be the most difficult of all in your pursuit of planting a church in a particular city, town or village. I feel it is ok to be motivated by need for the gospel or an outreach. But it is not recommended to be driven by such a need. If you had to be driven by need alone, you’d never want to plant a church in a city or a region where there are other churches existing already.
You can always be strategic in wanting to reach the unreached and wanting to start a church where there are no other churches. But do not make that the only factor in identifying your church plant location. Once you have narrowed down to a province, focus on finding where God has called you to live.
You cannot live in one city and plant a church in some other city. You need to be living and be part of the community where God has called you to plant the church. So, if you know the place where God has called you to live, you’d have identified the place where God wants you to plant the church.
2. Recognizing the People
As much as it is true that God uses one man or one woman, to birth a vision, it is also true that God would give you a set of people who would help you accomplish this vision. First and foremost, you need to seek the good will of your family (your spouse and children). Without their support and prayers for you, your task becomes almost impossible.
Next you need to identify your team members who could stand with you, though you cannot expect them to be in your team their entire life. I had a friend who actually moved from Mumbai to Bangalore just to help me with the church, but it was only for a season that he could actually help me.
It doesn’t matter how small or big the help or team member that God would bring your way. If you’re sure that God is in it, go for it! Do not be ashamed to ask people to help you with the church plant, because it is never your church. This is God’s church. They that help you, are only doing so in obedience to God’s purposes over their lives.
3. Handling Resources
Raising funds for the church plant is a very neglected yet a key area which young church planters should not ignore. We all believe that God will provide, and yes He will, but He uses people to do that job. I have, till date, never asked anybody for money to meet my personal or family expenses, because that is God’s direct responsibility. However, when God puts me in the leadership of a church or ministry, it becomes my duty to spread the word around and facilitate the raising of funds for the project.
If you are sure that God wants you to plant this church, even if you would have to work part time to self raise the funds for it, you should do it. God will honor your heart and your hard work with divine favour for the same. At the same time, do make sure to build a network of friends who know what you do, and share your vision with them so that they can stand with you for the same.
Also, you need to be wise enough to not invest too heavily into the smaller things and thus miss out on the budget for the more important things that often get overlooked. Your greatest proirity as a new church plant should be in line with the purpose of your church. I am sure soul winning will be one of the primary goals of your church. Continue to invest into the same, and less on the other things.
4. Building a Community
One of things that we do regularly at Bangalore Revival Center is to have midweek House Church services. These services are kept very informal and are conducted in the homes of people we know and /or are part of our church. We get to invite and meet new people, know each other better and occasionally, of course, have fellowship over food.
Things like these create a sense of belonging and an attitude of community, which is essential in a new church plant effort. Not that it is not required once your church has gone past the initial hurdles of church plant. It is something that is essential as long as your church intends to exist. Even after it grows big, it is still essential that the small house units keep meeting and that the fellowship doesn’t die out.
If this requires for you to allocate funds specifically for church picnics, for group activities, for food fellowships, go ahead and do it. Its always worth the investment.
5. Setting up a Strategy
Let me start off with a warning here. What worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. You cannot copy strategies. You can surely take inspirations, ideas and suggestions from others and those more experienced than you while you develop your own strategy.
Few things when it comes to strategy building is that, you have to be consistent with what you are doing for results to show up. You cannot do something for a few days and give up sometime down the line because it isn’t bringing you quick results. At the same time, you have to be accomadative to let go off strategies that haven’t been working for a considerably long amount of time. You can also learn from other people’s mistakes and failures while developing your strategy.
Make sure you have the vision of your church plant written down and plain before your eyes when you are working on your strategy. Let nothing that you do be devoid of a purpose that leads to the fulfillment of your church vision. One of the core vision of our church here in Bangalore is to raise leaders from the church and send them out for ministry. The strategy we have adapted for the same is that we have someone from the church (other than the pastors) preach from the Word during a Sunday service every month. We also encourage them to pray, share and minister at the mid-week services creating an environment for them to learn and to grow.
All said and done, church planting is never an easy job without the continual reliance on the Holy Spirit’s strength and the all sustaining grace of God over your life and ministry. There are so many challenges that you might face from within and outside your own church or organization when it comes to a church plant. The Lord who called you is faithful enough to see you through. Trust Him at all times.
Are you a church planter? Where do you intend or desire to plant a church? What are your greatest challenges in church planting? Would you leave a word about your ministry in the comments below, we would love to hear from you and also pray for you!