A church plant does not just happen. You must have a plan. It takes time, energy, prayer, much sweat, and many tears. Here are 5 steps you should consider before launching your church.

Assessment

A planter needs to be measured in a host of competencies: preaching, entrepreneurial leadership, vision casting, a strong marriage (if married), and fundraising to name just a few. In addition to these “macro skills,” there are countless other “micro skills.” When asked about the commonality between strong leaders who last, Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Theological Baptist Seminary, said without hesitation, “Accountability.” This starts with assessment. If you can’t handle someone telling you where you need to grow, don’t plant a church. You will only plant something that you (and others) don’t want.

Incubation

A strong and involved sending church with strong and involved leadership was vital for our family. Not every planter has this, but if it is at all possible, you should incubate in a church while you builds your team. Our sending church, Valley Life | Tramonto, provided us with a group of believers committed to giving financially, serving sacrificially, and learning regularly within community groups. And that grew into the next step.

Core Team

A core team is the team you start with, the team that has most bought into the vision. These are your leaders. Understandably, they will not come pre-assembled or just “warm-and-serve.” You will have to build them. You will cast vision with them in your home weekly. Some of them, you will disciple one-on-one weekly. These folks will become the leaders of your six service teams: Worship, Kids, Finance, Communications, First Impressions, and Connections. They should then build their respective teams and, ideally, work themselves out of that job and free themselves to take on other responsibilities as the church grows. After four to six months of the core team phase, these people are commissioned out as community groups.

Community Groups

This is where the magic happens. This is where disciples are made. It is my greatest joy to hear of new disciples and people coming to faith in Christ, when I have never had a conversation with said disciples. This is the church doing what it is supposed to do! These groups function alongside other groups within the sending church. This is the one-two punch. New people who are added to your church will have a community to plug into, as well as a team on which to serve. Now you are ready for the next step.

Service Days and/or Preview Services

At Valley Life | Arrowhead, we did both. Although many of our leaders and volunteers served and trained at our sending church, we needed opportunities to let them serve on their own. We needed to feel the weight of responsibility. We had a sister church, Valley Life | Surprise, who welcomed our teams over for three Sundays to 1) observe, 2) assist, and then 3) lead. These days prepared us for our three preview services where we did this all on our own, at our rented facility, in our own community. We discovered strengths and weaknesses. In fact, during this time period, we welcomed critique. We constantly asked of ourselves and even of our guests, “How can we make it better?” And we continued to ask that question. And then we launched.

Cody Deevers

Cody Deevers

Cody Deevers is the pastor of Valley Life | Arrowhead. He is a regular writer for LifeWay Pastors.