Download available: Keep your church plant launch team on track with a thorough 12-month checklist.
Planting churches is an adventure. In addition to the excitement, it’s also a bit daunting. For the majority of those involved, it will be the largest project they’ll ever be a part of!
Most people don’t consider the details of church plant launches. Things like:
- Applying for sales tax exemption
- Incorporating in state
- Registering State Department of Revenue
- Securing a PO Box
- And so much more!
As a leader of a plant or a member of the church plant launch team, you’re probably already aware of the long list of to-dos. But are you confident you’ve got the right tasks on your list – and at the right time? We’re here to help.
PACING YOURSELF WITH A CHECKLIST
Following a checklist will help church planters to pace themselves. Yes, it’s true – most planters we’ve met have no desire to be “paced” and would happily complete this list in a month. But there’s a purpose and a blessing to following a proven timeline, and we might suggest that it’s a good lesson in what’s to come.
We like what one pastor at Acts 29 had to say about pacing himself in ministry as he reflected a few years post-launch:
“It’s better to walk slowly at a healthy pace than to sprint at an unhealthy pace.”
We’ve created a checklist to help you keep a healthy and productive pace, and to ease some of the stress and confusion.
Through a collaboration with Jason Laird of Sozo Church, we’ve compiled your to-do list for starting a new church plant that can help your team gauge progress and stay on track.
We’ve divided the areas into the following timeframes:
- 12 Months Prior: Fuel Up
- 6 Months Prior: Rollout
- 3 Months Prior: All Systems Go
- Launch: Here We Go!
Let’s start by introducing the categories that need addressing from the earliest point, highlighting the areas that you should be giving yourself at least 12 months to complete.
14 Areas To Consider One Year Before Your Church Plant Launch
1. Establish the Vision
In addition to the exciting tasks like choosing a name, location, and launch date, your launch team will need to write a vision and mission statement.
Among other needed items, it’s critical to select a Financial Board of Overseers to help set you on the right course.
2. Join a Church Planting Group
The reciprocal benefits from securing a sponsoring church are widespread and highly encouraged. Not only does a church plant gain wisdom and enjoy professional mentorship from the sponsoring church’s leaders, but the “mother church” also reaps great benefits. Imagine the contagious joy when the Launch Team reports back to the sponsoring church with details of new believers and enthusiastic disciples. The joy of God is infectious!
Similarly, establishing a church planting group or joining a denomination is a wise choice that establishes credibility, security, and a solid foundation.
3. Begin Promotions
Grab a marketing guru and start branding. Establish corporate identity, develop a logo, business papers, and cards.
Pro Tip: Document! Take photos and videos of the development process as much as possible.
4. Make the City a “Home”
In the year before launch, it’s time for the lead pastor to get settled in to establish relationships, start prayerfully walking the city, and connecting with prayer partners.
5. Get Legal
In the year before your church plant launch, get squared away with state, legal, and corporate actions, like applying for tax exemption.
6. Set Up Church Administration
Every successful team has an organizer on board. Elicit their help as you secure interoffice communication for the leaders, as well as turn your Ministry Development Plan into a massive checklist for each area.
7. Develop Launch Team
If your launch team isn’t already secured, it’s time to dream big. Invite others to move into the “plant” town and/or commit to attending, serving, and leading. Cultivating this team will include weekly vision meetings for connection, planning, and leadership. These gatherings are precious, productive time and their importance cannot be overemphasized.
8. Learn & Network
Soak it in! Attend conferences, visit a variety of different churches and take notes on why they’ve made the choices they have for their church, and also what is and isn’t working very well for their congregation.
9. Raise Funds
This season of fundraising includes sending out support letters and creating “vision” materials for easy communication. Carefully develop the pitch and ask, and use it every chance you get – when you meet someone interested and curious about your church plant, or use it when approaching church groups or organizations to request support.
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10. Begin Marketing
Time to start checking off all the electronic marketing tasks that are necessary for this day and age:
- Purchase a domain name
- Write website content for main pages
- Get your site designed and developed
- Create blog posts and social media accounts
Pro Tip: Establish your church’s hashtag and start using it right away as your team shares content to social media.
11. Secure Financials
Once you hire an accountant, they can help to set up the income and expenses spreadsheet, open the checking account, and set up office files specific to your church plant launch.
12. Prepare Children’s Ministry
Long before the craft stations and fun classroom areas are designed, curriculum needs to be purchased, forms need to be developed, and a registration system needs to be secured. Do you have a team gathered to make progress in this area?
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13. Determine Leadership Procedures
This list of items could easily go undone, but it will keep your church running smoothly post-launch and set you up with scalable systems. For instance, create service forms, connection cards, ministry reports, and expenditure requests, among others.
14. Complete Federal, Legal & Corporate Actions
The tasks in this category are lengthy and involved and might require assistance beyond the launch team, so plan accordingly.
Just a few of the tasks include developing a corporate records kit, obtaining an EIN, crafting the constitution and bylaws, and appointing leadership roles. For the exhaustive list, download the entire checklist on our website.
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EVERY STEP TO YOUR CHURCH PLANT LAUNCH
If you’ve started to check off these items at the one-year point, you’re in great shape! But as you well know, this is not the end.
There are just as many tasks during the Rollout Stage (networking, promotions, location, etc.) and the All Systems Go Stage (service planning, in-house communication, first message series, children’s ministry rollout, etc.). For instance, when’s the best time to perform a test run of your church set-up and tear-down, and the optimal time to recruit your army of volunteers?
We’ve got you covered! Just head over to our site where you can download the entire church plant launch checklist for yourself.
What have we missed? Are there other tasks you’d suggest church planters begin at the 12-month point? Drop a comment and share your experience.