Jumpstart your successful launch journey when you follow the steps we recommend to our clients when we’re asked how to plant a church.
Are you sensing a calling to start a church? That’s exciting! Or maybe a church planting has approached you and suggested you launch. Do you know what steps you should take next?
Although starting a church can take years to execute, you don’t have to spend an abundance of time plotting your steps. Thousands of churches have gone before you and paved the way, and it would be prudent to learn from their examples.
We’ve spent decades in the trenches helping to launch more than 3,000 church plants, outfitting churches with the equipment, resources, and supplies needed to produce an outstanding worship service week after week.
But long before we started talking supplies, we had the privilege of advising leaders during the very first steps of their journey to plant a church. In this post, we’re going to share our advice with you so you can skip to the fun stuff, like recruiting your launch team and meeting community members.
Here are the 6 steps we advise church planting teams on how to start a church. If you want to quickly jump to each section, use the links below.
- Find a Network
- Get Legal Expertise
- Determine Church Plant Location
- Start Building Your Launch Team
- Become a Contributing Community Member
How to Plant a Church: 6 Tested Steps
1. Find a Network
With proven networks like Association of Related Churches or Acts 29, there’s no reason to start a church unsupported.
Organizations like these provide access to valuable resources, such as experienced mentors and coaches, proven tools and methods for starting a church, training in areas such as leadership development and pastoral care, fundraising assistance, and networking opportunities.
Additionally, church planting organizations offer support both before and after the planting of a church. This allows church planters to benefit from the wisdom and experience of others who have gone before them, paving the way for their success. Moreover, by partnering with networks like these, churches are able to build upon the missional work that has already been done in an area which can help ensure long-term growth and sustainability.
A network can advise you on setting up your church bylaws and belief statement, which experienced church members will be interested in reviewing.
Simply put, bestselling author and early multisite church pioneer in North America, Rich Birch, says:
“Networks provide us a valuable opportunity to strengthen our efforts by sharing resources, best practices, and informing each other about church-planting initiatives in our communities.”
Leverage networks. You won’t regret it.
Almost to launch day? Download this free 90-Day Pre-Launch Checklist now.
2. Get Legal Expertise
Don’t expend an ounce of concern about whether or not you’ve crossed every T and dotted every I. Instead, get started on the right path with great legal direction from an organization like StartCHURCH.
We recommend StartCHURCH because they are known for helping with every aspect of church startups, from setting up articles of incorporation and employee identification numbers to choosing tax exemption status. In addition, clients have access to their StartRIGHT Service, a cloud-based software suite that will help you with policies, taxes, and more.
What’s the danger of starting a church without legal advice?
Starting a church without proper documentation brings up many concerns, and here are just a few:
- Your church might be operating without the necessary legal documents or permits.
- The church leadership may be open to potential liability if an accident happens on the property.
- Potential donors could be discouraged from giving due to a lack of proper documentation.
- Credibility with government officials, congregants, and potential members could be compromised.
- Repairs or changes made before getting official approval may need to be covered out of pocket.
By eliminating legal concerns, you can rest assured that your church is well-protected and on the path to success. Legal experts have experience dealing with all the complexities associated with launching a church and can provide clear guidance to ensure your church is compliant with all applicable laws.
Working with a professional also ensures that if any issues arise, there is someone knowledgeable and experienced who can help navigate them. Furthermore, having the right paperwork in place from the beginning will save time and money in the long run.Starting a church? Put StartCHURCH on your short list of helpful agencies to get you started. They’ll supply you with incredible legal expertise so you can do the fun stuff like meet community members and build your launch team. Click To Tweet
3. Determine Church Plant Location
It’s time to identify the area to which God is calling you to plant a church. Finding the right location to launch is crucial for any church plant. After all, the church location and venue play a key role in how effectively your church plant reaches and engages the community.
How can you determine the best church plant location?
Here are 5 tips to help you along the way:
1. Ask God to give you a burden for a specific place.
Of course, this decision has been prayed over, right? Well, more often than not, teams get busy and trust their gut rather than God’s leading. Add prayer to your list of non-negotiable tasks.
2. Look for areas devoid of churches
Zero down on the areas where there are fewer churches. Are you ready to go where the need is the greatest? Consult with other pastors who are already serving in the city/town in which you feel called to plant a church. Ask them where the greatest need in their city is, and identify the challenges of the specific communities in the area.
3. Consider venues
Which facility is suited for your church? There are hundreds of questions to be thoughtfully considered when choosing a venue. Is it easily accessible? What’s the overall vibe? Does it have adequate parking spots and clean restrooms? Is there ample meeting space for both adults and kids? In addition, you will also have to think about factors like kitchen space, lighting, and stage setup.
4. Think about the costs
It’s no surprise that the potential cost of setting up a church can be a deal-breaker. Whether you’re constructing a new building or renting, it’s a decision that can’t be taken lightly.
Here’s some good news: we’ve got a checklist that is sure to make your job easier. The Facility Cost Comparison checklist will help you find the right space for your church. Download a copy for yourself today and feel free to send your team the link, too.
5. Consider equipment requirements
Can the venue be easily accessed? Is there storage available? Every venue will have different expectations, limitations, and requirements. If your facility requires you to supply your own furnishings, consider one of our portable equipment solutions or simply contact us and we can talk about customized options to meet your needs.
Check out some of our favorite before & after pics of portable setups.
There’s no way around this critical piece of business; your church plant needs funds to operate. But it doesn’t have to be a dreaded subject, either.
Have you heard this quote by Andy Stanley?
“A church plant that does not fundraise is like an airplane that never takes off.”
As you’re likely starting to experience, preparing to start a church can be likened to the excruciating, painful, exhilarating task of building an airplane. Surely you don’t want to go through all of that work and never see it do what it was made to do! The key to getting off the ground is funding.
How can I raise money to start a church?
Historically, church plants were funded by existing churches or organizations. While that is still a common practice, the support is often just a stipend to supplement what can be raised, and even that amount is generally only committed for a few years.
It’s time to get creative and explore new ways to raise funds for your ministry. Here’s a sampling of a list from Donorbox, who are recommending that individuals and teams:
- Host an online donation form.
- Create a branded donation form for website embedding
- Add on text-to-give functionality so people can easily donate or tithe
In addition to these suggestions, it’s wise to research which platforms offer fees for service rather than a flat monthly fee. Oftentimes, churches aren’t prepared to utilize the numerous bells and whistles offered, and it will save money to only pay for what’s being used.
5. Start Building Your Launch Team
If you don’t already have your launch team gathered, now is the time to solidify those seats. Need assistance?
StartCHURCH shares a solid list of considerations when gathering the launch team, like finding individuals who live in the church plant neighborhood, being clear on your expectations and commitment, and — maybe most importantly — making it clear that the lead team is not the same as the launch team.
What’s the difference between a church plant lead team versus the launch team?
The launch team helps to provide short-term support during the early stages of launch, such as helping with basic tasks like outreach, research, and volunteer coordination. The launch team is in existence only through the first weekly service and has gathered for the simple purpose of getting the church started.
On the other hand, a church plant lead team is usually comprised of the core group of leaders that are responsible for the long-term vision and implementation strategy. They typically have a leader or pastor in charge who oversees their day-to-day operations.
That said, it’s not uncommon for members of the launch team to later join the leadership team after the church is launched. The main difference between the two is that the lead team is more focused on long-term planning and implementation while the launch team focuses on implementing plans in a shorter time frame.
6. Become a Contributing Community Member
The example of the Apostle Paul inspires us to be creative and confident in our efforts to spread the gospel. As a tentmaker, Paul earned money while traveling around the world, talking to people and engaging with them about his faith. This allowed him to build relationships and spread Christianity wherever he went.
In the same way, church planters can use their current community job as a tool for evangelism. Once you secure employment in the community where you’re planting a church, you quickly make natural connections that would be nearly impossible to make otherwise. For example, when one church planter got a job at the local gym, who do you think was the first community 50 attendees at his church? Fellow gym rats.
By building meaningful relationships with coworkers and customers, church planters can create opportunities for spiritual growth and eventually invite others to become a part of their faith community. That’s 21st-century tentmaking.
Plant a Church and Impact God’s Kingdom
When a church planting team has the right steps to follow as they start a church, amazing things can happen. Having a clear plan and strategy for launching makes it easier for the team to focus on their mission and be effective in reaching out to their surrounding community.
Following these 6 steps will allow the team to set achievable goals, have accountability measures in place, and prepare for launch day confidently.
Need help getting your church plant off the ground? We’re here to help. Book a 20-minute consultation call with one of our experts today.