With over 156 million unchurched people in America alone, church plants are the need of the hour. However, church planting can be a difficult road – one that doesn’t always end with success. In fact, statistics suggest that 30-40% of churches are not likely to survive past the first few years.
How can you prevent your new church from meeting a similar fate? Avoiding these seven common church planting mistakes is a good place to start:
1. Launching too soon
Launching prematurely is a common and costly mistake that many church planters end up making. The zeal to fulfill the Great Commission can often lead planters to hasten the process of church planting. However, this invariably means skipping or rushing through many necessary pre-launch tasks, such as administrative work, finding the right venue, ordering equipment and training teams.
Planters and authors Jim Griffith and Bill Easum say that a premature launch places the new church in a “crisis mode” from day one and quickly drains money and morale. In fact, many experienced planters suggest taking nine months to launch a church. Make sure you are not rushing to launch your new church.
2. Relying too much on the church planter
Church planting is certainly not a solitary effort. However, there’s a popular and often-glorified image of “the church planter.” After all, successful church plants are mostly led by dedicated teams, not individual church planters. The idea of a lone church planter can be a dangerous one.
You need the support of a team, including able administrators, creative minds and marketing experts, to successfully launch a church. Whether your team is made up of paid staff or volunteers, do remember to clearly communicate the purpose of the team’s existence from the word go! Is your church plant relying on one personality or an equipped team?
3. Resisting other church leaders
Many new churches hesitate to let other church pastors and leaders get involved in the planting process. In doing so, they often miss out on much-needed insights and encouragement.
Tim Keller has some good advice: “Collaborate with your fellow planters and pastors; don’t compete with them.” It is a good idea to receive the wisdom and counsel of others ahead of time. Why make the same mistakes that someone else has already made?
4. Shying away from money talk
Many churches avoid talking about finances out of the fear of being misinterpreted as “always talking about money.” And, when they finally do talk about money – it’s often too late!
Well, it takes money to do ministry – just like everything else in the world! Brad Leeper from Generis emphasizes the need for church planters to talk about money and stewardship like any other regular conversation.
New churches need to come up with coherent plans about sustaining their ministry in the early years. So, don’t hesitate to talk about money with your church and supporters. How can you expect people to give money to your church, if you don’t even talk about it?
5. Not focusing on evangelism after the launch
The BIG launch is a huge deal for all church planters! Most churches put all their efforts into reaching out to the community and inviting people for the launch. However, after the launch, many new churches tend to settle down to offer discipleship and pastoral care to those already in the fellowship.
Offering mentorship and pastoral care without a plan to continuously reach new people can lead a church to stagnation. Therefore, it is key that your church has a strategic plan for evangelism that extends beyond the launch date. Does your church plant continue to focus on evangelism post the launch?
6. Formalizing leadership too soon
Many church plants take the step to institute official leadership posts soon after the launch. Sounding official is great, but it can actually prove to be detrimental for a new church.
Jim Griffith and Bill Easum stress the difference between being organized and being official. While the former is essential, the latter should be deferred until church planters are able to identify and assess leaders who have proven themselves in the fellowship. You might find that many who are involved in the early stages of the launch move on in the course of the church’s early growth.
This process of identifying, assessing, releasing and equipping leaders is a complicated one and can take a few years. Are you rushing to formalize the leadership at your new church plant?
7. Not planning beyond the weekend service
Getting people to show up on a Sunday morning (in person or online) is often the focal point for many churches. However, that’s far from enough! It’s equally important to have a solid plan to plug people into the church community and help them grow in their walk with God. It takes a lot more than weekend services to do that!
Your church needs to come up with a strategic and coherent plan for the rest of the week – Bible study, small groups, mid-week ministry – because there’s a lot more to think about! Is your church plan solely focused on the weekend services?
What are some of the other mistakes that church planters need to watch out for? Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.
At Portable Church, we understand that no two church plants are the same. Keeping this in mind, our experts design custom solutions to help church planters like you launch strong! So, if you are planning to start a church, we can help make the process easier for you! Give us a call today at 800.939.7722 and we’ll help you launch smoothly.
That’s not all! We also have amazing free resources for church planters like you. Get our Church Plant Timeline for a check list of things to do as you plan to launch your church. Download your free copy today!