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The New Way to Do Church

21 Online Church Innovations

I visited as many churches online as I could this Sunday. During my church channel surfing, I learned a lot about the adjustments churches are making to bring their worship experience online. For many churches, live streaming has already been available. Now that online is the only way churches can gather for Sunday Services, some are mixing things up to create a new type of online worship experience. 

The 21 things I saw churches doing seem to fall in one of the following categories: Presentation (of the message), Worship (the music), Connection, Information, and Access.

Presentation

Join people in their homes by creating an intimate environment to share your message instead of preaching from a platform. For example, teach from your living room as if you were in a small group gathering.

Have a one-on-one conversation with people.

Give your church something consistent in a time when everything else seems to be changing by teaching from the stage as usual.

Worship

Creating a studio worship experience that offers some variety from what people may be expecting.

Use pre-recorded worship to simplify your production while still delivering a quality worship experience.

Take worship to the living room with a small group acoustic set.

Have the worship team on stage for a familiar setup for worship.

Connection

Use social media to take people behind the scenes.

Take communion virtually. Bring liturgy into the living and connect tangibly with those in your church.

It’s time to chat during church. Man the conversation feed for a personal touch.

Pradeepan and Amreitha Jeeva at their Macs and ready to chat!

Encourage online community by sharing a hashtag and asking those watching to post a pic.

Daniel E. Groves demonstrates how to take a selfie before the Hope City broadcast.
Jeremy Foster, Hope City Church

Connect before you communicate. Take some time to get real before jumping into your message. Talk about the reality of how people are having to join church this morning, and what life looks like right now.

Scott and Kelly Niemeier, HighPoint Church

Information

Speak to your church directly with a video on your homepage explaining what they can expect from you and your church during this time.

Brad and Jessica Hampton, SOCO Church

Have a pre-show that informs and encourages your church. Give them tips for worshiping online and sharing the broadcast on their social media.

https://www.soco.church

Before you kick of your live stream let your church know what you have available for kids and students.

Andy and Christy Cass, Echo Church

Make it is easy to give and get COVID-19 updates. Put vital information in your Facebook Live Stream.

Pradeepan and Amreitha Jeeva, Kalos Church

Have your broadcast schedule available if you are not currently broadcasting.

Jimn Kyles, Anchor Bend

Access

Offer people multiple platforms to join your live stream on a landing page and on your home page.

Shaun Nepstad, Fellowship Church, Antioch, CA

Make your replay immediately available for those who may be viewing your church online for the first time and do not know your service times.

Terrence and Johanne Wilson, Cool Church

Take your worship guide online with a worship experience landing page that tells people how to connect and where to take next steps.

Rich Wilkerson Jr., Vous Church

Create a Facebook event for your weekend service with live streaming information that people can share.

Terrence and Johanne Wilson, Cool Church

This Sunday showed me there are many great online church experiences. I really enjoyed tuning in and hearing from people I normally wouldn’t be able to get a message from.

What are some other things you see churches doing that seems to be working well in this new church online landscape? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Outreach Ideas During the COVID-19 Outbreak

How to connect with the needs of your community during social distancing.

Outreach can be challenging with social distancing guidelines in place. You need to make sure you are considering your community’s guidelines for social distancing and that you are staying up to date as things are continuing to change so quickly.

A new obstacle also means a new opportunity to meet people’s needs. What are the new needs being presented as a result of this outbreak and how can we reach out to help during this time? Here are some things church planters are doing to reach people in need as a result of COVID-19.

  1. Offer free grocery, toiletry, and medication delivery for those most vulnerable. Getting payment from them via Venmo or picking up cash before shopping. Contributed by: Austin Coleman, HEART and SOUL, Knoxville, TN, @heartandsoul.church
  2. Offer free coffee at a local coffee shop for medical professionals. Contributed by: Andy and Christy Cass, Echo Church, Rochester, MN, @wearetheechochurch
  3. Have your Children’s ministry organize making cards for those in assisted living facilities that can’t receive guests. Contributed by: Chris Shinnick, Manna Church West Florida, Niceville, FL, @MannaChurchFL
  4. Buy grocery store gift cards (can be as small as $5) and hand them out with God loves you cards or church invite cards at gas stations to help with those struggling financially. Contributed by: Chris Shinnick, Manna Church West Florida, Niceville, FL, @MannaChurchFL
  5. Assist with local food pantry as a drop off point. Contributed by: Chris Shinnick, Manna Church West Florida, Niceville, FL, @MannaChurchFL
  6. Call senior citizen members of your church. Just check-in, pray with them and find out if there is any need you can meet. Contributed by: Chad Fisher, Rock City Church, Columbus OH, @rockcitychurch
  7. Set up a Facebook group connecting parents and teachers to help with homeschooling. Contributed by: Angela Mooney, Relate Community Church, Spring, TX, @relatecommunitychurch
  8. Offer a drive up with non-perishables for people to pick up. Contributed by: Laura Strand, The Bridge, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, MO,  @thebridgechurchmo
  9. Leave a card with a note of encouragement or free coffee on the cars of healthcare workers. Contributed by: Laura Strand, The Bridge, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, MO,  @thebridgechurchmo
  10. Let your neighbors know times you are available to pick things up for them with a God loves you card. Contributed by: Laura Strand, The Bridge, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, MO,  @thebridgechurchmo
  11. Collecting items to deliver to medical workers on duty (granola bars, bottled coffees, snacks, gas gift cards, etc). Contributed by: Betsy Davis, Hope Church KC, Kansas City, MO, @hopechurchkc
  12. Help with food distribution via local organizations or schools to reach the kids who won’t have access to food while schools are closed. Contributed by: Betsy Davis, Hope Church KC, Kansas City, MO, @hopechurchkc
  13. Buy gift cards for gas and hand them out with God loves you cards or church invite cards at gas stations to help with those struggling financially. Contributed by: Ana Silvestre, Venture Church, Salinas, CA, @Venturechurchsalinas  
  14. Provided lunch for people working overtime at school administration building (eLearning, cleaning, communications, etc). We showed up with box lunches from a local restaurant. Contributed by: Chad Lunsford, Echo Church, Avon, IN, @EchoChurch.cc
  15. Offer online financial crisis coaching (and prayer). (the leaders of our financial peace university are doing this for people in our church) It would be cool to offer this to the public based on Biblical principles. Contributed by: Amreitha Jeeva, Kalos Church, Bellevue, WA, @kaloschurch

Remember the kids:

With kids at home, this is a great opportunity to minister to families. You can post a new activity to your social media each day that families can do at home. Have someone from your children’s ministry shoot a quick video talking to kids. Post resources that families can use that would be helpful during this time.

More Resources:

ARC Resources and Support

COVID-19 and How to Serve Your City By Serve Day

What Do We Do Now? By Serve Day

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15 Things Church Planters Can Do During COVID-19 Outbreak


Strategies for Church Planters Adjusting to COVID-19 and Social Distancing

What do you do if you are a church planter preparing for a launch day later in 2020 or 2021? The landscape is changing day-by-day right now. Things may look different a week or two weeks from now. Even so, I wanted to share some things that can help church planters move forward in a time where social distancing is the rule and there is a pandemic impacting people’s live like we have not seen in recent memory.

If you are a church planter here are 15 things you can do right now:

  1. Pray –
    1. That the spread of this virus would be contained and that we will see a turnaround in the number of people being infected and dying from this disease.
    2. For healthcare workers.
    3. For wisdom for leaders.
    4. For those impacted by the virus.
    5. For people to place their trust in God.
  2. Follow Community guidelines regarding social distancing. Educate yourself on what others are doing to implement these guidelines and learn from their messaging.
  3. Have contingency plans for launch day. Have three timelines. For example:
    1. Plan for your September Launch Day.
    2. Have a backup plan to launch in October
    3. What would it look like to launch at the beginning of November or in 2021?
  4. Website – Make sure to have a landing page if not a recruiting website up as soon as possible.
  5. Giving – Make giving easy by having online options available. Some platforms will offer free use of their giving platform for church planters for an introductory period. 
  6. Go online with your message now. Don’t wait for Launch Day or Sunday to start offering hope and prayer. Take advantage of social media platforms to offer messages of hope, pointing people to God, encouragement, and prayer.
    1. Offer online prayer meetings.
    2. Offer daily short encouragement.
  7. Offer a listening ear. One of the greatest gifts we can give someone is the time to hear them out. FaceTime or call people and just check-in, ask questions, listen, and offer to pray with them.
  8. Stay informed. Be in touch with what is happening in our nation, your state, and your local community. What guidelines are being given and what needs are being presented that can be prayed for?
  9. Be Others Focused – Make everything you do and say is about the people you are serving and not about you and your church or your unique needs in this uncharted landscape of church planting.
  10. Prepare the things now that don’t involve meeting with people or will take away from your time focusing on people once some of the meeting guidelines are lifted.
  11. Look for the opportunities to serve that are being presented that may not be available if circumstances were different. Serving local business and medical professionals For example:
    1. Offering free coffee in the drive-through at a local coffee shop to medical professionals.
    2. Support for families at home with kids.
  12. Stay connected to your church network and other ministry leaders for encouragement, resources, and new ideas to continue moving forward.
  13. Broadcast – Learn how to use live streaming platforms for online presentations. For example: 
    1. Quick Guidelines for Live Streaming a Church Service
    2. Zoom
    3. Facebook Premiere
    4. Youtube Premiere
    5. Church Online Platform
  14. Use money wisely. Make every dollar count and save when you can and spend only what is necessary. Wait when you can, and trust God with your financial preparations.
  15. Use technology to stay connected to your team during social distancing
    • Group Messaging Apps: Slack and GroupMe
    • Cloud Services for collaboration: Google Drive & Evernote
    • Video Messaging: Marco Polo & Google Hangouts
    • Facebook: Groups, Page, Chat, & Messaging
    • Instagram
    • Twitter
    • Youtube: Public Videos, Private Videos for Your Team, & Past Broadcasts

What else would be helpful? Add to the list in the comments below. Thanks!

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4 Things You May Not Know About Church Planting

Church planters are like the special forces of ministry. It takes courage to launch out into the unknown to serve people you have never met. It’s a worthy cause and one filled with lots of surprises along the way.

Some of the things I have learned working with church planters at ARC is what you would expect. Church planting is risky. You should get lots of experience leading and teaching in a local church before launching out. It requires a lot of coffee. Others were a surprise to discover. 

Here are 4 things you may not have considered about church planting:

Fundraising is easier and harder than you think.

When you make fundraising about the vision and the people you are going to reach, then it becomes much easier to make the ask. You are not asking for you. You are asking for the people you are going to reach. This frees you up to step out because you know what people are giving to is going to make an eternal difference.

This doesn’t mean fundraising is easy. In fact, in some ways fundraising is harder than you think. It is not something that starts or stops in the launch phase of a church plant. It starts long before you have the need by being faithful and considerate in the way you build relationships. It continues long after the launch because your church will continue to utilize financial resources to grow, reach more people, and serve the hurting and overlooked.

There is a language to church planting.

You must learn and speak the language of a church planter if you are going to start a church. When Jesus spoke he used stories and illustrations that were common to those he was speaking to. Church planters must use the same principle when starting a church.

You speak the language of a church planter when you translate insider Christian language into messaging everyone can understand. One way to do this is by communicating your reason for planting a church in a way that is meaningful to not only someone who already values faith and spirituality, but those you hope to reach as well. 

How you leave one season determines how you enter the next.

If you want to reap in favor, then you need to sow in honor. Even the best transitions can be challenging because a disconnection is taking place. When you speak well of, honor, and respect the wishes of your sending pastor you are investing in your own future by attracting loyal followers yourself.

When you go into your city it can be easy to only think of the needs of your new church plant. But remember, you are entering a community of existing churches. One day, you will be on the other end of a new church planter moving into your area. Lead the way with honor. Create an environment of unity in your city by asking how you can serve the other churches in your community instead of asking what they can do for you.

It takes longer than you think

You may be able to launch your church with ARC in as short as 6 months. This doesn’t mean everything you hoped to see will happen right away. It takes time to grow. Many times God has to grow your capacity as a leader before your church’s capacity to attract people can increase as well.

There are many aspects of your vision to start a church that will not be online for day one. Trying to get everything going all at once can lead to discouragement in you and exhaustion in your team. Dividing your focus prematurely can also lead to you not giving the essentials the attention they deserve. Parts of the vision will be realized on day one, others the next year, and still others in the years to come.

Church planting is an exciting journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. It also brings the reward of witnessing the miracle of new faith community being born first hand. If you like to find out more about starting a new church with ARC, we’d love for you to connect with us. Please go to arcchurches.com and click “start a church.” We have some free resources available to you just for reaching out.

If you are a church planter then I would love to hear from you! What were some things you didn’t expect that you found out after launching out to start a church?

*This post first appears as a contribution on KevMill.com.

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Attributes of a Church Planter

How do you know if you are a church planter? Well, if you like to wear button-down plaid shirts, then there’s a good chance you were born to plant a church. Just kidding! But it is an odd recurring phenomenon I have noticed…

There are lots of personality tests out there, and spiritual gift assessments you can take that can help you determine if you are a good fit for church planting. Ultimately, if God has called you to it, then He will equip you for it. It doesn’t matter if you fit in any particular mold or not.

If you are wondering though, here are some characteristics I have noticed effective church planters possess.

5 Attributes of a Church Planter

Evangelistic
The heart of the Great Commission to make new disciples of Jesus. Is soul winning a burning passion of yours?

Authentic
Are you comfortable being yourself? There is a difference in learning from others and wanting to be like them at the expense of being your authentic self. It is important to know the difference. If you aren’t comfortable being yourself, then others will have a hard time being comfortable around you as well.

Engaging
You cannot rely on marketing tools or other people to build your team. You must be able to attract people to the vision God has given you. This happens through being authentic and speaking the everyday language of people outside of the church. Are you someone who can engage in modern culture, or do you speak in preachy religious terms?

Honoring
You must honor where you came from, and the churches in the area where you are going. You may know “honor-speak,” but do your actions and attitudes match your words? If you are not ready to honor, even when it hurts, then you are not prepared to be a church planter.

Life-giving
You must believe the best in others. You cannot claim to have great faith, without having great faith in people. The people God sends to help you launch your church are your greatest assets.

ARC has an assessment process that does a great job giving feedback on people’s readiness to plant a church. We don’t determine your call, because we know that is between you and God. We do our best though to help you find the right timing and circumstances to launch strong. Visit arcchurches.com to find out more about our process and to apply.

What attributes do you think make a great church planter? I know there are more than just what I mentioned. I’d love to hear from you!

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Fundraising Mistakes and Musts for Church Planters

Over the years at ARC I have seen some successful as well as some not so successful approaches to fundraising. Here are a few quick tips if you are looking to raise money for a church plant. 

Mistakes Church Planters Make with Fundraising

The biggest mistake people make is not making the ask at all. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to give to something you know is going to be good for the people you are reaching as well as well the person who is giving. It’s better to assume that people want to have the opportunity to be a blessing and are looking for an opportunity to be a part of what God is doing. 

The second mistake is making too strong of an ask. This can happen in multiple ways. One way is by asking someone for money who you do not have any relational equity with. You start fundraising, not with a meeting when you give a pitch, but by genuine relationship long before you make an ask. You may not always have that opportunity for long term relationship though. In this situation you want to make sure that you ask them to pray about getting involved instead of asking for money the first time you meet with them. 

The key to overcoming both of these mistakes of being too shy or too bold is to not make it about you. Make fundraising about the people you are reaching and the person who is having a chance to get involved with what God is doing.

Practical Steps to Fundraising Well

  1. Prepare for a fundraising meeting by finding out about the person you are meeting with. 
  2. Start the meeting by asking questions about them and their vision. This way you can better connect your vision to what they are already passionate about.
  3. Share your needs, but also share your vision, and your practical plan for sustainability. How are you going to get a return on their investment? 
  4. It’s always good to follow up and thank the person for their time with a personal note. 
  5. Being authentic and truly caring for each person you come into contact with may be the best fundraising strategy you can employ. 

Most pastors don’t get into church planting because they are passionate about fundraising. They step out in faith out of a love for God and people. I think we should keep these two things in front of us when fundraising. God is our source, and fundraising for a church plant is just one more way we can learn to lean on Him more.

If you would like to find out more about starting a new church with ARC, we’d love for you to connect with us. Please go to arcchurches.com and click “start a church.” We have some free resources available to you just for reaching out

*This article first appeared as a contribution in the ARC Magazine.

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Digging Ditches

Inspiration to Reach Your Mountaintop

By: Suzannah Driver

What could go wrong?

If you can do any other job other than church planting and pastoring, do that!” Joe and I looked at each other and joined the chuckles coming from other future church planters sitting in the room. We had a combined twenty-two years of ministry under our belts and knew God had called us to plant a life-giving church in Pensacola, Florida. So, what could go wrong?! The short answer is: Everything

Nearly three years into leading and pastoring Echo Life, I think back on the cautionary statement spoken to the eager church planters. Would we have ever chosen a different route? No. We know through and through this is exactly where we are supposed to be and what we are called to be doing. But this has single-handedly been the most challenging and difficult three years we have experienced in ministry. 

Reaching the Summit

Mount Fuji, though it is a mere 12,388 feet tall, is no joke. I have had the opportunity to summit this mountain twice. On both occasions, we began the ascent at midnight, guided only by our headlamps and a small, braided cord leading to the top. The climb is virtually straight up. The terrain is made up of unstable pumice stones. The air is thin, making it difficult to breathe. Most of my climb was alone, in the dark, feeling light-headed, stumbling my way up, and rolling my ankles at least 30 times. This is also church planting. 

I would love to say that everything has been a beautiful mountaintop experience, but that would be so far from the truth. It has been a lonely uphill climb full of bumps and bruises. For several months now, I have felt like I have been struggling up a mountain and have only seen the light of day for a moment. This is the kind of discouragement that leaves you sitting on your laundry room floor weeping and asking God if this really was the right move (by the way, the enemy is a jerk and loves to kick you while you’re down. Don’t pay any attention to the thoughts you have in these dark moments. Find a friend who can share a light with you and show you that you are still moving in the right direction). 

Kings Digging Ditches

As I have been fighting my way through the deep, dark, discouragement, my time with Jesus has landed me in 2 Kings 3. Three kings have come together to fight against Moab and they find themselves wandering in the desert and completely out of water. They call for a prophet and Elisha shows up on the scene and gives them a word. “Dig ditches all over the valley.”

I imagine these kings looked at each other in disbelief. Surely they knew about the exodus story (kind of a big deal). They knew God had provided water from a rock, manna from heaven, so surely He could do it again! But no, God instructs the people to…digditches.

This is the desert. The sun beating down, the tools are primitive. The prophet continues, “You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water…This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you.” (2 Kings 16-19 MSG) 

Can you imagine crying out to God for help and then Him telling you to do some back-breaking work in the desert. “Dig ditches.” How many? How deep? For how long? When is the rain showing up again? How are these going to be filled? The people had no answers but instead had an opportunity to operate in faith and obedience. 

Filling Up the Valley

Like many other believers and pastors, I am in a season of digging ditches. I am asking God for provisions, and I know He will provide, but the nagging question of when and how make faithful obedience even more difficult. Add to that the age of social media and I’m over here looking at other churches wondering why they got the provisions and I’m still having to dig with no end in sight.

This is where I have been the last several months. Many days of tears, frustration, anger, and feeling abandoned by God. Then I remember, “ You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water…this is EASY for God to do…” My responsibility is to be faithful. My responsibility is to obey. My responsibility is to dig in where I am placed and not check to see whose ditch is already finished. 

Maybe you’ve been digging for weeks, months, or years. Maybe you feel like your ditch is significantly deeper than the people around you. Maybe God is preparing you to be a well of great depth for future generations. Maybe He is preparing you for far more than you could ever imagine. Don’t give up! Don’t keep looking for the wind and rain, but know and believe that He is faithful. He sees you. He will answer you! Keep digging! You are not alone. 

Suzannah Driver

You can follow Suzannah on social media at @SuzannahDriver. You can find out more about the church she pastors along with her husband Joe in Pensacola, Florida, at echolifechurch.com.

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Developing Leaders for Church Planting and Beyond

You have heard of “ABC: Always Be Closing,” but in ministry it needs to be “ABD: Always Be Developing leaders (which includes recruiting leaders).” While recruiting people for your church plant you should consider reaching people far from Christ, finding people who need a church to grow in their faith, but you also have to have other gathers who can help you support the mission of the church.

“If I were running a company today I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

– Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

Such a good thought for church planters in the recruiting phase. I believe this also applies to all seasons of any organization. Leaders are the skeleton that supports church growth. You can swell without good leaders. You can gather by taking advantage of seasons and great planning for an event. But sustainable growth requires great leaders and teams of leaders to hold the pieces together. Leaders are the ones who transmit the values and culture into others.

The question is how do we develop leaders while taking care of everyone else in the church? Understanding the 3 phases of pastoring should help.

3 Phases of Pastoring

Reaching New People
If your church plant is not reaching out to those far from God, then you are missing the point. A new church should not just add a new worship service to a community. It should be an outpost of help and rescue. A new church should be actively displaying the love of Christ by helping people meet their spiritual and physical needs.

Caring For Members
This is the group that can be easily overlooked in the mix of starting a new church or growing an existing church. It can also become the total focus of a church that ends up unintentionally ignoring the other two groups. A wise pastor is continuously aware that members need love, encouragement, and correction. We need to cry with them and celebrate them. Our goal with this group is to help them take one step at a time in their faith; patiently caring for them along the way.

Developing Leaders
Leaders require a different type of attention and plan of action. We don’t love anyone more, but to love everyone equally, then we have to love each person differently. As a church planter, you should keep your eyes out for gathers. These are people who carry their own influence and have a desire to share that influence with you to grow the local church. The goal is to let them know they are appreciated, but that they are also carrying the culture. This means they may get more access, but the hope is this will multiply your efforts when you delegate responsibility to them when the time is right.

So to sum things up, we need to always be recruiting three types of people. 1) New People – through serving and outreach 2) New Members – through gatherings and pastoral care 3) New Leaders – through access and individualized plans. This is not just something that is important for church planting but is also a great way to “get and hang on to the right people” to help your ministry achieve its mission of reaching people and growing Christ-followers.

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What Makes an Effective Church Plant Website?

I get to see over 100 church planting websites every year. I am always surprised by how creative pastors can be with their online presence. I have also been disappointed others hadn’t been more intentional with their church plant website.

Having an excellent church plant website is not about spending a ton of money. In fact, simpler is better for the most part. Here is a quick checklist I have put together to help church planters with their website. I hope it helps.

7 Things to Remember For Your Church Website

The Front Door

The front door of your church is not connected to your building, it’s your website. Church planters should transition to the main site from your fundraising website or your “pre-launch website” 6 weeks out (2 weeks at the latest). This will help with SEO and let people know who you are. Again, Sunday time and location is front and center on the top fold.

Online Real Estate

It is essential to move your front door to the best real estate online. Try to search, “church in (your city name here)” as well as, “(your church name) and (your city name).” How far down the list where you in the search engine? Where you at the top of the list when you put your church name and your city’s name in the search engine? Consider paying for ads to get your name at the top.

Have Good Taste

Outsource the design of your website. Do not do it yourself. The people with the best taste know when to trust others to make them look good. They don’t cut their own hair, make their own clothes, create their own makeup or paint their own art in their house. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on your website, but you should spend some. It is an excellent investment in evangelizing your city.

Show Don’t Say

Instead of long text explaining what kind of church you want to be, show what church you are and plan to be. You can do this by linking your church social media to your website. This will help people who want to keep exploring who you are.

Picture This

The website should have a picture of the pastor (or co-pastors for couples leading together) with their spouse and family if possible. At the very least it should have the couple together. People should be able to navigate to this part of the website in one or two clicks.

Less is More

The pastor’s bio should be about 3-5 sentences, not 3-5 paragraphs. In some cases it feels like 3-5 pages (“I knew I was called to plant since I was 6 years old when I used to preach to my G.I. Joes.”). Give us an overview and if you want to share your story in more detail give people the opportunity to watch a video.

Secret Church

Once you know your location and service time, then put that information on the “top fold” of your website. Make it the easiest thing to find on your site without clicking or navigating in any way. It’s also a good idea to put a picture of the outside of the location as well as a link to Google Maps. The name of the space should be displayed as well as the physical address.

More Resources

There is a lot more that can be said about creating a church website for a new church, but I will stop here. An excellent resource for website and marketing, in general, is the book Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller. I also found the book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt to be beneficial as well!

I’d love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or questions on this topic! Leave a comment or send me a message! Thanks for reading!

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The Best Kept Secret of Church Plant Team Building

Do you have a talent for getting people to quit their job and sale their home at the same time? Neither do I. That shouldn’t discourage you from stepping out to launch a church though. Asking people to leave their family and friends to start a new church is a big ask. Don’t get discouraged if everyone you know isn’t ready to jump on the church planting train and travel across the country with you on the railroad tracks of faith. This may be the best thing for your future church because the team you build is more important than the team you bring. 

Parachuting into a city where you have no relationships to start a church can be one of the scariest things you can do in ministry. There’s no “but” followed by a comforting remark here. It’s just kind of a scary deal! Trying to connect with people in a place you have never lived to start a church with a limited budget and a fixed timeline takes nerves of steel.

Using City Momentum to Build a Launch Team

The solution may appear to be to recruit as many people as possible to move with you from other places. While this is helpful, there is also something called, “city momentum” that you need to consider. 

City momentum is when people in your new community bring awareness and more people to your launch through their network of relationships that existed in the area before you even moved there. It’s the buzz created by the locals. 

Every person you add to your team, gives your team momentum. It does not matter if they move with you or not. When someone from your new city joins your team it gives you “city momentum” as well. Launch team members who already live in the community have built-in equity with existing relationships. They don’t have to earn people’s trust to invite them to your interest meeting or church launch like your other team members will. 

We can see a similar promise of influence for the gospel in John 4:37-38. Here Jesus says, “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” City momentum is just a practical way we can see this promise play out in church planting.

So how do you create city momentum and what should you avoid that may squash it? 

5 Steps to Creating City Momentum

Leave some key roles open 

You may not know the highest contributors on your launch team yet. When you give away your top leadership roles before you move, you lose the chance to connect with the influential people in your new city who may be a better fit for those positions. Doing this makes it challenging to recruit gatherers who can multiply your city momentum.

Give responsibilities instead of titles

Asking for commitment to specific duties over a particular period gives everyone freedom. The first way is by creating a natural exit ramp for the volunteer to move on to something else if they decide they are not a good fit. The other way, is it frees you up to put someone you already trust into a much-needed position while you figure out who may be the best person to carry the title long-term. 

Know the difference between pioneers and settlers

Pioneers like to start new things. It excites them. They are not intimidated by the hard work and sacrifice it takes. Others are pilgrims who come along once there is already momentum, but end up staying longer. This is why arc church planters start with a “launch team” and don’t transition to a “core team” until after launch. Forcing everyone to be a pilgrim is to not appreciate how God has wired people and may lead to burnout on your team. 

Get out of your relational comfort zone

Familiar relationships can be a safe place for church planters when everything else seems chaotic. Understanding city momentum can be a way for you to grow your friendships outside of your existing circles even when it is uncomfortable.

People in your city are not just looking to be a plug that fills a hole in your team. They are looking for a genuine relationship with you. This means you will need not only new team members to launch your church but also new friends that you have opened up and allowed into your life.

Prepare for the unexpected

What if God has something better for you than you have planned for yourself? That fantastic worship leader you wanted to move with you and ends up taking a full-time job at a mega-church may just be making room for someone better. Maybe the person you meet in your city that becomes your worship leader will one day become an executive pastor whose spouse is also amazingly creative and has a friend who is an amazing photographer whose parents own Pepsi and will start tithing before you even launch? Ok, I maybe took that one a little too far, but you get my point. God can do much more than we expect. This includes providing a team that is much better and bigger than we ever imagined.

A Strong Team = A Strong Launch

We need to have people we trust helping us in the church planting journey. As they say, “your network is your net-worth” in more ways than one. While bringing team members with you is a huge bonus, ultimately it will be continuing to build that team with city momentum that leads to a strong launch.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me a message!