What Should You Be Doing 6 Weeks From Launch?

A friend of mine is launching a church in 6 weeks.rocket

He and his team have done a fabulous job preparing for launch. My friend has gone through assessment, apprenticed as a church planter, talked to planters, read the books and hit the conferences. He’s a great student of church planting. He and his team have been meeting and praying and serving their community for months. My friend has been training leaders and investing in the people around him.

In my opinion he’s doing all he can to ensure a sold launch.

That’s why I was a bit surprised that he would reach out to a group of us for additional coaching. I mean 6 weeks out the train is rolling so to speak. And he’s already done a great job.

Maybe I am making a little much of this but I was inspired. Even in this last leg of his journey, he’s still teachable. I think we can all learn from his example.

So for what it’s worth, here’s what I suggested he consider 6 weeks out.

  1. Call an “All-Hands on deck.” Encourage leaders and launch team members to make it a priority to attend your gatherings and be on mission to the people around them. Also, cast some vision for making it a priority to attend gatherings even after launch.
  2. Pray. Get teams of people together to pray. Encourage everyone to be praying. Host simple prayer gatherings. You get it.
  3. Encourage your launch team to start identifying the people they’re going to invite to your gatherings. Encourage people to write down the names of people and pray for them.
  4. Time to let team leaders lead. It’s time to release your leaders to own their pieces of the mission.
  5. Turbo train small group leaders to be ready for new people so you have the relational space for them.
  6. Encourage your launch team to keep serving the community.
  7. Ensure any marketing is lined up and ready to go so you don’t miss deadlines.
  8. Ensure you and your team are connecting with friends and neighbors this summer. Encourage people on your launch team to have parties, host barbecues and generally be social in the community.
  9. Ensure your budget is finalized and that you’re living within it now–even before launch.
  10. Keep Jesus the main thing by making space for Him in your life everyday. In this season of hustle and activity its easy to become distracted by the stuff of church planting.

I appreciate my friend and his reminder that no matter where you are in the planting process, we must stay teachable.

What about you? What is one way you’re staying teachable?

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The 5 Season Cycle of Church Planting

If we’re going to create a movement of reproducing churches and missional communities, we must understand that a church plant is a dynamic organization with a cyclical lifespan. We must understand that churches exist in seasons and each season has unique goals and challenges. Understanding these seasons will help you discern what season you’re in, what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to go about doing it. 5 cycle

So what might it look like to understand your church plant as a dynamic entity with a cyclic lifespan?

I’ve thought about this and read from others (namely Aubrey Malphurs and Ed Stetzer) and have developed what I am calling the 5 Season Cycle of Planting. The heart of my model is a gathering and scattering strategy. I contend that if we committed ourselves to the 5 Season Cycle, we would see more healthy reproducing churches planted.

Keep in mind this is a 40,000 sketch of a work in progress. I will fill in more details in later posts.

1. Residency Season (Preparation)
Somewhere between 1 to 2 years before your launch you should be participating in an active residency with a church that plants churches. Here, the planter is preparing himself for launch, identifying location and fundraising while learning both the strategic and tactical elements of planting from the sending church. This is a season of active learning and reflection.

2. Pre-Launch Season (Planning)
This is somewhere between 6 and 12 months out from your hard-launch date. You’re on location and the details are starting to come into focus. This is a time of intense preparation and team development. Your building a launch team, developing leaders, casting vision, fundraising, serving the community and building a ton of relationships with people in the community.

3. Launch Season (Execution)
This season includes your hard launch date and the subsequent 6 to 8 weeks immediately following. During this season your executing the plan and making things happen. You’re starting small groups and serving the community. Your goal is to launch large in order to build momentum to sustain the cycle. During this season you are also identifying your first leadership resident.

4. Post-Launch Season (Consolidating)
This season starts 1 to 2 years after your hard launch date. This season should end with your plant being financially self-sustaining and the next generation of leaders emerging for mission. Your team should be serving the community and building lots of new relationships. You are also training and developing your leadership resident.

5. Reproducing Season (Sending)
This season is approximately 2 to 3 years after launch. It’s the season during which you move from 1 to 2 services or reproduce a network of small groups or missional communities. It’s the season of consolidation before you start preparing for the next launch (or missional community) and doing it all over again. It’s the season when you send out a new planter (hopefully your leadership resident) and a team to start another church.

Repeat!

I suspect that if every new church followed the 5 Season Cycle faithfully and consistently, we would get closer to a movement.  And that all starts, church planter, when you understand the cyclic nature of a church plant and embrace it.

What are your thoughts? Does this help you think about the life-cycle of your church plant in a new way? What have I missed? What have I got wrong?

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Calling Out Foolish Things Church Planters Do (And How to Avoid Them)

Foolish: lacking in sense, judgment, or discretion.

Happy April Fool’s Day! No, I am not going to play a joke on you nor am I going to perpetuate some hoax. But the fact that we celebrate the fool on this day got me to thinking. Fool

I’ve been reading through Proverbs and fools and foolish behavior are called out—a lot. This is my favorite:

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly (Proverbs 26:11).

The fact is, church planters–just like anyone else starting new things–do foolish things. They’re not mistakes. They’re just foolish. And they can cost you and your team dearly.

Here are some foolish things planters do:

  1. You’re planting too soon. You know it and you’re still keeping firm to the magical launch date that you have in your head. Your launch date is arbitrary unless it accurately reflects the reality of your pre-launch project.
  2. You haven’t raised enough money. I am sorry. I wish it were different but there are some minimum fund-raising standards for launching a church. God can do anything he wants, including planting your church. But if you aren’t raising enough money and/or you’re going to launch broke then please hit the pause button and re-evaluate.
  3. You haven’t done a residency. Just because you’ve been in ministry for X years doesn’t mean you have what it takes to plant a church. The best place to start preparing to plant a church is to do a residency in a church that plants churches.
  4. You aren’t praying. Oh you’re telling us you’re praying. But you’re too busy reacting to the dumb things that you’re doing that your prayer life is a mess. Take a break. Take a retreat. But don’t make another move until you start hearing from God again.
  5. You haven’t built enough relationships. You don’t know enough people in or outside the community to help you plant this church
  6. You don’t have a coach. I am not talking about a friend who pastors a church. I am talking about someone who has planted a church and can speak into your life and help you avoid foolish mistakes.
  7. You aren’t building a team. You haven’t been able to hire staff or you’ve tried and people have told you no. The true test of leadership is to look over your shoulder.
  8. You’re not honest about our leadership abilities. You haven’t lifted your leadership lids. You know it. And everyone around you knows it.
  9. You have sin in your life and you’re not repenting of it. This is all about integrity. Leadership flows out of your personal integrity. Sin will doom you and your project.
  10. You’re not listening to other planters. You aren’t asking for feedback from those who’ve gone before you. You’re too crazy focused on your plant and you’re not listening to the collective wisdom of other planters in your area.
  11. You’re not delegating. You’re doing too much and it’s killing you because you either don’t know how to lead a team, are afraid to ask or you have control issues. inviting people to play at high level.
  12. You’re not contextualizing the Gospel for our community. If we do anything we must strive to keep the gospel relevant to the culture we are planting. You need to understand the people who live in your community—the demographics; the assets and the needs. This requires time and thinking and evaluation.
  13. You’re not resolving conflict on your team. People are getting pissed at you or others and you’re avoiding it.
  14. You’re ignoring your spouse and kids. You know it. Your spouse knows it. But you insist on pushing on. So stop it.
  15. You’re denomination is controlling your project. I mean this with all respect but top-down church planting is a relic of the past. Church planting is not something dictated from above. It’s got to grow organically.

Church planters should seek wisdom to avoid foolishness…

I do hope there is some collective wisdom in Mission Glue that you can tap into.

What are the other foolish things you’ve done or witnessed other planters doing? How have you pursued wisdom? What wisdom can you pass along to the rest of us? I’d love to hear from you.

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What Should A Church Planter Do Launch Weekend?

I’m stoked. Our Restore Brookside Campus launches this Sunday, March 24th, at Border Star Elementary. I am excited for my friend Josh, his wife Sara and the staff and leaders of Brookside. Will you do me a favor right now and take a moment to pray for our launch. Thanks! BrooksideLaunch

I am trusting that we’ve followed God to Brookside and joined Him his mission there. It’s all on Him now.

Our campus pastor, Josh Jackaway, and his team have done a great job preparing for a strong launch. They’ve started small groups, served the community, reproduced leaders, met as a launch team, and invited people to join us. It’s been a ton of fun.

Part of my role at Restore is Mission Strategist. (One of the many titles I’ve given myself by the way.) In this role, I help our campus pastors with the strategy and tactics of launch.

So Josh and I have met once a week for the past six months dealing with the details, creating and executing plans, and hitting milestones. I’ve coached him through some milestones, and helped him develop some of the tactics to launch strong. It’s been a great experience and fairly easy because Josh is smart, teachable and a quick learner.

I’ll be honest. I am kind of melancholy. I really enjoy the pre-launch phase. And I will really miss my meetings with Josh.

As I prepared for our final pre-launch meeting, I really want to give Josh something that would help him finish this season well. I started wondering: What should a church planter do the weekend of launch? Josh

After writing down a few things I realized there was only one last thing that needed to be done.

During our meeting we sorted through some last details and then we both sort of realized we were done. So I asked Josh, “what are you going to do this weekend?”

“What do you mean? I am going to finish everything and start a church.”

“Don’t forget to celebrate,” I said.

Josh agreed.

I mean church planting is tough. Most planters I have talked to have confessed planting a church as been the most challenging thing they’ve ever done. But if you’re not taking time to enjoy it then what’s the point.

It only seemed right to remind Josh to enjoy the experience. Because church planting is also fun. Lots of fun.

Launch weekend can be overwhelming…

  • You have the pressure to launch well.
  • You have last-minute details to see to.
  • You might have family and friends in town!
  • etc.

And it’s so easy to miss it all.

During launch weekend you have a couple of options. You could freak-out about all of the things that haven’t gone right and that could go wrong. Or you could celebrate!

The way I see it there are three ways to celebrate the launch:

  • Pray.  These last few days should be filled with prayer. Spend time getting close to God and give serious consideration to what the next phase of your relationship with Him is going to look like. Don’t forget to pray for your team, your leaders, the community and the people who will find their way back to God.
  • Rest. Chances are you’re tired. You’ve been pushing it hard this season. Sundays come every week now. No doubt, the pre-launch season has been a busy one. Best to take some extra time and rest before Sunday.
  • Trust. No, I mean it. Trust God. There’s nothing more to do then to trust Him.

I suppose I just want planters to breathe and take it all in…remind yourself to watch God do his thing.

Because whatever the outcome of launch, you have started a new work for the Kingdom and that’s worth celebrating!

How do plan to celebrate during launch weekend? Do you find it challenging to stop and enjoy the church planting journey? I’d love to hear your perspective.

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Interview with Matt Miller, Church Planter — Shawnee Mission, KS

Matt MillerI started Mission Glue for one reason: to help church planters plant healthy reproducing churches. One way to do that is to hear from practitioners. I want to hear from church planters who are actually planting churches. You may not have heard of them but they have learned a ton and can teach us much.

I recently had the privilege of talking to Matt Miller, Lead Planter of New City Church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

I first met Matt when he arrived at Restore for a Leadership Residency. Matt had been on staff at a mega-church in Miami Florida. Through relationships with people in Kansas City, Matt moved his family to the Kansas City area with a dream of planting a church for people far from God.

Matt spent 10 months as a Leadership Resident with Restore. During his time he did everything right in my opinion. He attended assessment. He leaned into the phases of the residency. He remained teachable and worked hard to reproduce small groups and teams. This set him up for a strong launch. During the course of his residency, Matt and I became great friends–at least that’s what he tells me! More importantly, I think I learned as much from Matt as he did from us.

Three churches and one church planting group in the Kansas City area pooled resources and relationships to help Matt launch New City.NewCity

Westside Family

Olathe Bible Church

The Heartland Project

Restore Communtiy Church

The start of New City is a great examples of churches and networks working together to plant new churches.

New City launched in January 2012. While Matt is the lead planter, he will be the first to tell you he hasn’t done any of it alone. He was joined by his friend Chris Moix and his family.  They hired Tiffany Mills and others. New City launched strong and they’ve gained a ton of moment since. Chris transitioned from the business world into ministry.

New City is a New Thing church.

I am grateful for my friendship with Matt. He has a passion for Jesus and wisdom beyond his years. It was a great day when he and his family decided to move to Kansas City. I am humbled by the opportunity to interview him for Mission Glue. I know we will all be inspired and encouraged by his story.

What circumstances led you to believe God was calling you to plant a church?

I was asking God what was next for me in back in 2009, over the next year, God directed my steps to planting a church.  Proverbs 3:5-6.

Describe the cultural ethos of your church plant.  

New City was started to inspire you to trust in and live like Jesus.  We focus on three key areas: Sunday Celebration (create an environment where people can “taste and see that the Lord is good.”, Discipleship (provide a clear pathway that moves people to a fuller understanding that Jesus is Lord.) And, Missional Life (to be a people on mission of bringing Kingdom (prosperity, justice and integrity) to our city.  To start a movement!)

How are you serving the community?

New City is fully engaged in our community.  In our first year we hosted over 75 community events.  We now have 3 school partnerships (all schools in our local community) and very close to having a 4th.  The schools are Shawanoe and Nieman Elementary and Trailridge Middle School.  Working on Comanche Elementary.  Also, every Friday we open up our facility (are you proud I didn’t say our church), that used to be a theatre, and we provide a free new dvd release family movie, free popcorn, free soda.  Also, during the movie we host ELL classes and open up our food pantry.  On a typical Friday night we will have over 200 of our neighbors come to the movie.  Lastly, we always do our best to inspire people to take the Kingdom to their world.

How are you developing people? Staff, volunteers, launch team?  

This is our weakest area.  We move too fast, and at times make unwise leadership selections.  We strive to practice the “I do You watch” model that I picked up from Restore Community Church.  However, having this a core piece of our leadership development culture has been difficult.  That being said, we have a ton of volunteers.  It takes around 60 volunteers to make each of our services meet our standards.  We currently have very little “gaps” and are working to filling 60 more spots as we prepare to start our 12:30 service on Easter Sunday.  Our communication to our volunteers happens like this: Staff…Ministry Leader…Ministry Specific Service Coordinator…Volunteers for that hour.  We host a Leadership Community 6 times a year that brings all of our volunteers together.  Each Ministry Leader has a monthly meeting with his/her key leaders.  I have a 1-on-1 with each Ministry Leader.

What have your learned about raising funds for your project that can help the rest of us?

We raised over $500,000 prior to launch.  Rule #1.  Give people the chance to say “No.” Don’t assume they will, you must ask!  Rule #2. Don’t let the only time you talk to people is when you’re asking for money…nobody likes that guy.  Rule #3.  Change the world with their money and then tell/show them what you did.  Rule #4.  Always, always ask:)

How is your family part of your church planting adventure?

My wife is on staff with us.  My kids are in charge of messing up Kid City.

What is/was the great challenge you faced planting your church and how did you overcome it?  

For me it was faith.  Faith in God and faith in myself.  Does God really want me to do this…Can I really do this.  I leaned on the story of Abraham, he believe in a God that could raise dead things back to life and make something out of nothing.  That’s where I was when I started…just me and my family.  No staff, no team, no volunteers, no people.  But my faith was strong…I believed that God could.  And, He is!

Who inspires you and why?  

Constantly see God being faithful to His promises!  When we seek Kingdom above else and live righteously He will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33.

How are you caring for yourself while planting?  

Great question.  Planting has forced me to add daily solitude to my schedule.  Every night, after we put the kids to bed, I spend about 20-30 minutes in my hot tub.  This is where I hear from God.  Where I pray.  Where I complain.  Where I cry.  Where I sit still and decompress.  My hot tub (solitude) saves my life.  Allows me to be a focused husband, dad, leader, and pastor.

Do you have a plan for planting more churches/campuses etc. What is it?  

Yes.  We are set to start our next New City on Easter Sunday 1014.  We are leaning towards the community around Comanche Elementary, but this isn’t a for sure…you have to hold your dreams loosely and let God guide your steps.

If you could ask a church planter you don’t know one question, what would it be?  

Tell me how you currently: spend your money, love your neighbors, lead your family, handle conflict?  Based on their answer I can see what kind of church they will plant.

Just for fun: What is your favorite band and why?  

Right now I’m diggin’ Burno Mars’ new album, Unorthodox Jukebox.  It makes me smile.

What question should I have asked you that I didn’t?  

What would you do different?  I would not put those who are spiritually immature in places of leadership.  It has cost me valuable time and emotional energy.

You can keep up with all that’s going on at New City here. Will you do me a favor and pray for Matt and the New City team today.

Are you planting a church or missional community? I’d love to talk to you about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you dig the content of Mission Glue you can subscribe here.