We were around six months into planting when we started to find that we regularly had over fifteen people coming to our services regularly, and to be fair we had already started trying to prepare for the next season of growth.
If you’re into Church Planting and following what other are doing you’ll know that sometimes things just shoot off really quick, certainly in America anyway. One such Church was Elevation Church who grew to over a thousand in their first year.
You may feel a bit intimidated by that sort of growth, or success, if numbers mean success to you, but when you hang out with some leaders that have been around a while you will hear them mention the term ‘church stock’ from time to time. For example, you would have heard someone mention that Steven Furtick is mega-Church stock.
This means that Steven, in this case, is someone who was already used to running a Church that was a certain size. He had grown used to some of the programs and organisational processes of a Church that is huge. So when it came to planting his own congregation, he would behave in a manner that is in keeping with that of a much larger Church. Even if his Church isn’t there yet, it will eventually get there because he is prepared and planned for that season.
Now, we’re not all living in America and we don’t all have loads of cash to get us going. I personally am not going to aim what we’re doing at Christians, so unlike Elevation Church we’re not going to get the most well known Christian band in the world to come and play a gig to open our Church.
Instead, I’m out to win the lost and the lost only. Christians can stay put in their own Church. This means that my next task is to grow from fifteen to twenty-five. Now that we’ve reached fifteen regular attenders it’s probably worth preparing for twenty-five.
By the time you’ve broken fifteen attenders – that is at least fifteen people in Church each week – you will have a small network of irregular attenders around you too. A really simple and easy way to quickly grow to twenty-five each week in Church is to consolidate and use some of your research to encourage full commitment from those that until now have been reasonably uncommitted.
We did this by organising a Christian festival/conference for our Church. I would have loved to take them all to a large conference or festival, but unfortunately most of our guys just couldn’t afford the average festival. Some of the cheaper ones are around £50 per person for a few days of smelly wet tents, and horrid weather, some of the better ones are over £100 per person, meaning that our single mum with five kids would need to pay over £500 to sleep is a wet smelly field with a bunch of do-gooders looking at her like she’s the biggest failure they’ve ever seen.
We couldn’t have that. We started a thing called Urban Wave, and invited some decent speakers to come and minister to our guys. It is at the beach and everyone gets a bed and a hot shower.
The first year in Mablethorpe people started coming up to me asking if they could be discipled one-to-one and if I could help them to setup their tithes so that it goes straight out of their bank account. We never talked about tithes or offerings at the event.
Relationships got deeper and stronger, and we very quickly found that two or three families became more committed.
Our next series will be on going from fifteen to twenty-five, when we’ll look at this in more depth.
By Training Disciple-Makers
Jesus had twelve close disciples. It is unreasonable for you to asked to disciple more than fifteen people all by yourself. At some point you’ll need to start thinking of ways to get train others to make disciples.
There are several good books, and like I said our next series will include this stuff in more depth, but for now you might want to start with Gordon MacDonald’s Going Deep. That book changed my whole outlook on making disciples.
By Appointing Ministry Captains
As I’ve mentioned previously in this series, it’s quite normal to start appointing team members to look after ministries. I’ll talk about how you can make them more committed in our next series, but for now let’s just say that ministry captains are fine for a Church at this early stage, but I would lay off appointing elders or deacons.
You really need to make sure that any leaders that you want to appoint in your new community are onboard with your vision. You’ll want them to understand your heart and mission otherwise they’ll split the congregation when they start to disagree with you.
At this stage of your development you need to know that there is no rush. If you feel that there is then you might just need to spend some time in prayer. I pushed and rushed everything in these early stages, and I caused myself a lot of pain and upset when things didn’t happen the way I thought they should. Being prepared for the next season of growth is wiser than trying to force it when you’re not prepared at all.
Take some time off too and get your bearings. You’re no good to anyone if you’re tired and treating those close to you like rubbish. I would say that if you’ve hit fifteen people from nothing you’ve done well. You have successfully planted a Church. Well done!