Six Things to Consider When Launching a New Church or Campus

Launching a church or campus is often the dream of many pastors. Unfortunately for some, that dream quickly becomes a nightmare because they didn’t properly prepare. I’ve been fortunate to be friends with several church planters and have been in the middle of launching a campus at my own church. In this post I want to share with you the six things you need to consider before launch.

  1. Who’s on the staff?

Every church or campus needs to begin with a staff already on board. They don’t have to be paid, but they need to be bought into the vision of the church. Most churches should begin with a lead or campus pastor, a worship leader, a children’s ministry leader, and someone who handles the administrative tasks of the church. Churches may also choose to have a student ministry leader, small groups leader, missions leader, etc. either from the beginning or added later on as needed.

  1. Where will we meet?

It may surprise you to know that next to who’s leading the church, the thing that determines whether the church or campus succeeds or fails is often the location. Not great news for us small town and rural church pastors. If possible, you want to be along a main road that gets high traffic or in a facility that the community recognizes, for example the local high school or community center. Leasing a building is also a great option, although it’s sometimes hard to find buildings large enough to house a church that also fits within your budget.

  1. What ministries will we offer?

The temptation for most churches is to do much more than they need to or are capable of. When you’re starting out, you want to concentrate on doing a few things really well. This will allow you to grow, which allows you to add ministries later. Decide on what ministries you’re going to start with, which ones you may add later, and those you’ll never do. If you’re starting with more than five or six, you’re trying to do too much.

  1. How will we get the word out?

It would be naïve to think that just because you’re starting a church that people are going to come. It just doesn’t happen anymore. You need to build a team of 40-50 people before you ever think about launching. Most of these connections are going to come through personal relationships. Others may come because of social media posts. Others may have seen a Facebook ad or received a flyer in the mail. Make sure to set aside a significant amount of money to market your launch.

  1. How much will this cost?

Speaking of money, launching a church plant or campus often comes with a significant financial cost. Be wise and do your homework up front, or you’ll pay the price later. Figure up your upfront costs, and create a budget for your first two years of ministry. This will give you an idea of how much money you need to raise, and how much money you’ll need to bring in each week to survive.

  1. How will we develop leaders?

This is the easiest one to overlook. In the excitement of launching a new campus or church, it’s easy to get so busy that you neglect to develop new leaders. This ends up coming back to haunt you as your church begins to grow because you don’t have the leadership in place to handle the growth. Because of this, often churches that launch big will quickly lose the people they tried so hard to reach. Make sure you have a system in place to develop new leaders before you even launch.

We need more churches and campuses to bring light to a broken world. We need you to succeed. I hope this list will help.

For you who have planted campuses or churches, what would you add to this list? What have I forgotten? Let us know by leaving a comment below. If you’re thinking about launching a campus or church, I’d love to hear about it. Maybe I can help. Shoot me an email and let’s connect.

3 Questions Every Small Town Pastor Needs To Be Asking

Do you remember the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken?” The premise is in life we have choices, and sometimes choosing to take the road less traveled can make all the difference. Today, I was looking through some old notebooks of mine and came across some thoughts I had written down in 2009. The church I serve was in the beginning stages of its transformation, and I was lucky enough to be in the middle of it. The church detoured from a road many other churches were already going down in our community to a road less traveled, and it truly has made all the difference.

I would like to encourage you to make that same choice. The opportunity to win people to Jesus has never been greater than it is right now, especially for pastors serving in rural and small towns. Yet, the opportunity for your church to decline and die is just as great.

Where you end up will be determined by the road you choose.

Before you make that choice, I would ask you to sit down with your leadership or board and honestly answer these three questions. Your honest answers will determine the road you ultimately end up on.

  1. Do we really care about reaching the world? Almost every pastor would say yes, yet their vision, their values, and their budget would tell you something very different. If you’re serious about reaching the world, you have to quit being inward focused. It’s impossible to please everyone in your church and reach those outside of it. You have to be ok with that, and you have to be willing to fight for those who look nothing like Jesus.
  2. Are we willing to work hard? It takes more than prayer and sound biblical doctrine to grow a church. Sometimes you’re going to have to hurt someone’s feelings. I’m not saying be mean about it. I’m just saying be honest. If someone can’t sing, don’t let him or her. If someone has constant bad breath, don’t allow him or her to be a door greeter. If there are paintings, or quilts, or décor that would freak people out, then get rid of it. You’ve been called to lead, not to be liked. God will do his part. You have to be willing to do yours.
  3. Are we willing to give up our preferences and embrace change? Denominations have been on the decline in America for the past 40 years. You want to guess why? Because they’re not willing or are too slow to change. Don’t let that be you. There are grandparents in your congregation that would be willing to give their lives to see their grandchildren in church, but they’re not willing to give up their hymns.

The only way that changes is if you cast a vision to reach the world, work hard, and convince them to embrace change. Take the road less traveled.

What road is your church on? Are you growing or declining? Let us know by leaving a comment below. If I can ever be of help send me an email through my contact page and we’ll set up a phone call.

8 Ways to Make Your Church Website Awesome

Guest Post: Travis Sinks

You are probably aware of how important your church website is. In fact, your website is considered to be the new “front door” of your church, and 1 out of every 3 people will check it out before ever visiting your church… You’ve probably heard that your website is an important online hub for your church…And that it can be leveraged as a long-term resource for new and existing members, and your community as a whole.

But you know what you’re often NOT told?

What should actually be on your church website.

But before we dive into that answer, let’s review 3 things that should NOT be on your church website…

  1. Old/Irrelevant Content: Sadly, the internet has created an environment of being perfectly up to date, which has created a culture that has little patience for outdated content. This means that if people see your website promoting a month old event, they’ll assume that you never update it. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take long to update your website. If your church releases a weekly bulletin, simply take a few minutes to make sure that your website contains all the relevant information that your bulletin does. And, keep in mind: the more often you do this, the less work it will be and the faster you’ll get at it.
  2. Confusing Words or Christian Jargon: The Church, as a whole, has done a poor job at keeping our words simple and easy-to-understand. If you want to reach your local community through your website, then you will have to write and speak in a way they understand. The easiest way to ensure that your website is usable to the non-Christian is to simply ask a non-Christian to review it (and, who knows, they might want to talk to you more about who Jesus is!). Ask them to tell you if any of it doesn’t make sense, or if the words were clear and concise.
  3. A “Messy” or Difficult-To-Navigate Website: Similar to confusing words and jargon, it can be easy to navigate your own website because you feel like a fish in water. But if you’re wanting to reach a specific group of people, then reach out to a few of them and ask them to give a review of how easy your website was to navigate and use. In general, churches tend to have some of the most confusing websites, yet, it can (and should) be much simpler.

In the end, for most church websites, you should focus on simplicity and effectively communicating your primary message.

Which brings us to the positive side of this article: 8 Ways to Make Your Church Website Awesome

Please note that for all of these items, consider asking a non-Christian if you meet these requirements. It can be much more difficult for you to see if these things are present on your website than for someone who is unfamiliar with your church.

  1. A Clear Explanation Of The Gospel and Your Statement Of Faith: Your church website needs to be able to lead someone through the foundations of the Gospel and our faith.
  1. Clear Service Time(s)/Meeting Place: Your website visitors should be able to easily find out where and when you meet. I like to have this information on every relevant page and also in the footer of each page.
  1. A Simple Navigation Menu: I prefer something like: “Sundays, About, Events, Resources, Contact, Give”. Keep in mind to avoid jargon in your navigation titles like “SOMA” or “Body Life” because this is simply confusing to anyone outside your church. Even if your youth group has a specific name, use the words “Youth Group” or “High School Group” in the navigation bar.
  1. “Real” (But Still Nice) Photos: I prefer to use photos of the church and its members because it brings out the genuineness of the church better than stock photos do. Just be sure that they are good quality photos and that you have permission to use them online – especially if they have kids in the pictures.
  1. A Privacy Policy/Disclosures Page: Sadly, we live in an age where every website needs a privacy policy and disclosures page. What you need will depend on what information you collect on your website, where you advertise your church and some locations (specifically schools) might require a disclaimer on your website as well stating that they are not affiliated with you in any way.
  1. A Simple “Contact Us” Form: Too many contact forms require massive information. Even if you give the option for people to leave more information, you should only require a few things such as their name, email, and maybe their phone number. And remember: if you won’t use the information, then don’t ask for it. For example: don’t have a spot for their physical address if you won’t be sending them a letter or visiting them. This becomes both unnecessary (and intrusive) request to your visitor, but having that information also becomes an unnecessary (and unused) liability for you.
  1. A Podcast For Your Weekly Sermons: The beauty of the internet is that we can repurpose content for almost no additional cost. Instead of having sermons limited to a specific time and day of the week, you can now have a podcast available for members who missed the service because they missed the service or serving during it. Your podcast can also be used for nonmembers of your church who simply want to know Jesus better. Having a podcast is a win-win and you lose nothing by giving away the sermons you’ve already preached.
  2. A Clear And Easy Way To Give Online: Online giving is a trend that has skyrocketed and is not going away. There are many online giving options available (some of which tie directly into your website or app), but you only need one to make this an easy and quick experience for people who would rather give online.

A Resource Moving Forward

I hope these 11 things help you get the most out of your church website. However, mapping out your website can be time consuming and frustrating, and so I put together a general checklist that covers the needs of the majority of churches.

If you’re looking to revamp your website, or even completely create it, this is an important place to start. It’s in a previous blog post of mine titled: “Planning Your Church website,” which you can find at this link.

Bio:

Travis Sinks is the volunteer assistant pastor at Redemption Church Delray Beach. He is also a business growth consultant and web designer for churches. You can also check out his blog at travissinks.com which is written to encourage and equip the church as a whole in both their knowledge of scripture and in their practical lives of life and ministry.