We’ve all heard the epitaph of the Church Planting Graveyard…80% of church plants fail in the first five years. The quickest way to reduce that number is by planting with a team. Shared vision means shared accountability and responsibility. So when others want to contribute, how does a Lead Planter get them ready?
Start with the Bad News!
Whatever you do, under-promise and over-deliver. Make sure your team members understand up front that there’s a really good chance that they will never receive a paycheck from your church plant. A lot of folks are willing to volunteer with the concession of future compensation. But remember that you don’t own the church planting crystal ball. You don’t know the future, so don’t sabotage your future by promising or hinting at staff positions that don’t currently exist.
Make sure your team members understand up front that there’s a really good chance that they will never receive a paycheck from your church plant.
Second…talk about your vision
…and talk about your vision…and then, talk about your vision…until everyone on your team is so sick of hearing it that they finish your sentences. That means they’ve got it! A lot of planters think about putting together a Dream Team of experts, but they miss the Team Dream. In the early days of a church plant, you need your team to be gathered around the vision with an “all-hands-on-deck” mentality. Too many plants suffer from a team member refusing to set up chairs, because the Debbie Downer on your team says, “that’s not my area of responsibility.” Momentum killer.
No one is arguing against team clarity or role differentiation. As a matter of fact, I would argue for them. Be really clear with your team: “this is our vision and we are all committed to get this done.” As your plant launches and grows, your team members’ roles will diversify. That makes it essential to look at the job descriptions for your team members at least annually so that everyone operates in clarity. The next question that naturally comes up is, “so, what are the most important things for the team to focus on in the early days?”
In the early days of a church plant, you need your team to be gathered around the vision with an “all-hands-on-deck” mentality.
Encourage your team members…and yourself
In addition to encouraging your team members (and yourself) to grow in your own personal relationship with God and with each other, there are some other practical areas of focus. Before planting our church in Columbus, OH, I was part of a planting team in Memphis, TN. When I sensed we were leaving for Columbus, I drove from Memphis to Little Rock, AR. Bill Wellons, one of the planting pastors, from Fellowship Bible Church and the leader of their church planting residency training spent a few hours with me.
I learned as much from Bill in three hours, as any book or course ever taught me. One of my takeaways that day was what Bill called the Church Planting Beachheads. When an army invades a country from the ocean, they have to establish a base on the beach. Bill said that church plants have four of them: leadership, processes, finances and facilities. He told me that the degree to which those four practical areas were strong would determine the early strength of our church start. So, when our team hit the ground in Columbus, we focused on these four practical areas.
Looking back, we could have done A LOT of things better…there were church planting Dream Teams around the country with more recognized names than our team…but we had a Team Dream, which I believe is more valuable. Jesus didn’t leave behind a foundation for advancement…or a secret organization structure…He certainly didn’t have a Dream Team. But His team had a dream…the Dream…that they would make disciples that eventually turned the world upside down.
Published October 27, 2015