Starting A Church From Scratch

We are in discussion about helping some friends start their church, and so I am writing this post as a way of getting my thoughts together as a set of basic instructions. In my other posts, I covered a lot of perspectives and pitfalls which I would be of interest to those who are in the middle of it, but in this post, I am going to cover things you would want to know from the “ground up.” This is different from a church plant that you start with a group from another church. This is a church that you and a few friends start together.

You must have a leader. There must be a single person who is in charge of the church plant and calls the shots for it.  Everyone else who is thinking about getting involved needs to agree to respect, support and listen to this person regarding the plant. Anyone not willing to do this, can’t be a part of the plant. The leader must be considered a spiritual leader by everyone else on the team. The best way to set this in place is by having someone from the outside explain it.

The Leader must work hard.  The leader must be willing to take ownership of the plant.  It’s like being a small business owner.  Church planting is hard work.    You can’t do it unless you are really willing to put effort into it to make it go.   Just like in a small business the “entrepreneur” has to be a motivated person willing to work.    You can’t “outsource” it to someone else.   Your main job as a leader has nothing to do with what you tell others to do, it has everything to do with what you are doing yourself.

Warmth is essential. You need to give off warmth as a group. You need to make people feel genuinely loved and connected in order to come back. The second most important person in your group is the “connector.” This is the person who everyone loves and who loves everyone. This role is often played by a woman who hosts the meeting, but it can be anyone, and to some extent you hope it is everyone. But you genuinely must all agree to be warm to those who come, to reach out and follow up. You need a gathering that you bring everyone to that they want to keep coming back to. It almost doesn’t matter what you do, just that they want to keep coming back to it.

Worship is important. Some people come mostly for the worship. The better your worship is, the quicker you can grow.  Live worship is much better.  You need someone who can make it happen. People say the first person who gets paid should be the pastor, but I think these days, the first payment should be for the worship team if needed. People really expect high quality music.

Evangelism and Discipleship. This is your bread and butter. You need unbelievers and nominal believers to come to your group. That means you must have some strategy for connecting with them. There are lots of good ones, but you need one. You have to all have an outward focus and a plan on bringing together the people you are reaching out to in a safe home environment. .

Feed only the hungry. Everyone is going to move at their own pace. Some people will warm the couch in your group for a long time and not “get it” while others will absolutely suck down anything you say. Don’t’ get too “in your face” with the people who want to go slow, just spend your time on those who are hungry. Make sure they are well fed.  Help them connect with other people.Building your church is about building these people.  Sometimes someone who is going slow will catch fire, and when they do, spend time on them, but the key for slow moving people is to give them space.

Run off the recycles. If you have someone who comes to your group upset about another church or with all kinds of ideas about how you should be doing church, confront them politely and they will leave.

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  1. If we are talking here about a home-group based kind of planting from the “ground-up”, I believe the first point is “the vision of the leader”. Most likely the one that “possess” the vision is the one that will carry it on, and usually this is the person that leads. Assessment in this area is extremely important. There are four basic questions that we can start with:
    a) What is the motive of the leader’s heart?
    b) What is the motive behind the vision?
    c) What is the vision?
    d) What is the commitment and what it represents?
    The rest of the questions will trigger when the three basic questions can be answered. We have to be clear about that we cannot build the Kingdom of God with our good intentions and great enthusiasm, because these are not enough, requires more than that.

    If the visionary has all of the above clear, he/she will be able to transfer the vision successfully, the core-team comes about and together they can work on the details of the vision [mission, objectives, resources, means, etc.]

    I wouldn’t be concern about the other four bullet points. Let’s get over the first three…first. Practice to work in agreement, be inclusive and not exclusive, learn to submit one to another and consider the other better than yourself, don’t forget to include prayer to your worship, then move on with the planting.

    1. Carol… thank you so much for taking the time to read and review. As these are principles we are going to be trying out with a real group here soon, and you are also thinking about church planting, I wanted to run by you.

      1. I have been an ‘up close and personal’ part of two church plants. What an exciting time. In my last experience they left out #4 which blew my mind and was probably hard most for me as 1. I am a worship monger and 2. it was a Vineyard church plant! I stuck around because I felt I had been assigned there but truly otherwise the lousy/lack of worship would have driven me away. I would think that most seekers aren’t missing it because they don’t know about it however, worship is one of the most powerful ways to engage with God.

        This plant did all the other things quite well. As a result we majored in community and enveloping people into our community–neighbors, waitresses, co-workers, business people we dealt with. I was privileged and fascinated to watch and learn and be a part of this endeavor.

      2. Will, I got confused with the numbers. Almost at the end of first paragraph I wrote “trigger when the three basic questions can be answered”, please read “four” instead of three. Also on the last paragraph I wrote “Let’s get over the first three…first”, please read “four” instead of three. Sorry about that.
        In my particular situation with the church planting project, we are exactly dealing with this phase.

  2. I am now at a church that started 7 years ago but has recently purchased a great building. We moved there in Feb. The pastor has told me that he considered Feb. to really be a new church plant. We went with a group but it is rapidly dwindling. Numbers 1,2,4,5,6 and very much in place but #3 WARMTH is lacking like I have never seen in my 33 years of being a Christian! and There is also almost no connection between the members let alone with any newcomers. Its so hard to watch this. It is impossible to not have all kinds of ideas about how we can better do church!

    This is another church that I have specifically been assigned to and they do have so powerful things that I was sent to learn and have imparted to me. I have imported some warmth with me which has been well received.

    I get to take intercession more seriously.

      1. Enjoying your comments Sue. It is so refreshing that you have been able to be part of a group of people that goes for it all the way. Totally agree with you, as worship, I do take intercession seriously.

    1. Sue, it sounds like you really do get to do fun and fascinating things for the Kingdom of God. You know the Bible says that without love we are clanging cymbals… and maybe that is what you are experiencing… if the church has everything but has not love… I think that is also the thing that would hold back our group here if we were to focus again on church planting. Thanks again for your insights…

  3. THanks everyone for letting me chime into and benefit from this circle. I don’t think in this situation its about personal agenda. I think it has been two people planting a church without any significant pastoral gifting. In fact I came to realize that it really couldn’t be called a “church” (although brethren assemble there 3 times a week). There is no Body Life—that beautiful God stuff that happens as people care for each other body, mind and spirit. I have been tempted to sneak off to a local newer Vineyard on Sundays just to be surrounded by that ‘Body life’. I prayed about it and the Lord showed me He has attached me to this strange church so I settled down and the following Sunday there was an announcement that we are merging with a church that is bursting at the seams. Nine babies have been born this year, 75 kids under high school aged and plenty of teens. We purchased a great and large building in Feb. We have the facility and they have the church!! The couple that pastor that church are going to take over as senior pastors.
    They are very strong in pastoral and evangelical gifting and my current pastor and his wife will function and minister according to their giftings and passions (prophetic, apostolic). Amazing! Anyone remember the movie “Yours, Mine, and Ours”? I think this great influx will blow our awkward little culture out this windows. (including the 5 ft. poles they handed everyone that came in the door). It looks like more fun and fascinating things are headed my way.

    1. I am having trouble getting this to work…. Sue, actually /thank you/ for coming and being a part of our little circle. Our ministry team has recently felt God leading us to get involved in starting evangelistic church cells or micro-plants. It’s fun to hear from someone who has been there. One of the things I left off of this list is that every church needs a ”connector” who is there and can make people feel loved and connected.. It sounds like you are that kind of person! God bless, and hope He draws our paths together.

  4. I believe that a good read and scripturally sound book for any believer is “Reimagining Church” by Frank Viola. With all due respect I believe what has been proposed here does not encapsulate what Christ intended for the body to be. Blessings

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