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.

Announcements, Bulletins, and When to Say No

Can you announce that the mission team is having a barbeque fundraiser this Saturday? The ladies quilting group won’t be able to meet next week either. Make sure to get that in the bulletin. Oh and by the way, last Sunday you forgot to mention that the Richardsons had their new baby here for the first time. Now they’re upset and will probably never come back. This is the communication nightmare that happens in far too many small town churches.

Today, I want to give you permission to say no.

For years, the church I serve heard these types of comments and suggestions.

Each time we would scramble to get every little detail in the bulletin and make every announcement that someone thought necessary. And you know what? We still didn’t please everyone.

Not only that, the more announcements we made, the less people attended the events we were announcing.

So, we made a decision. No longer would everything get promoted equally. The staff would decide what was worth promoting from the stage, in the bulletin, on social media, and through any other avenue we might use.

This did two things.

  1. It ticked people off.
  2. It helped us focus on accomplishing our vision.

You see, it’s impossible to please everyone and accomplish the vision God has given you at the same time.

If you don’t prioritize what you’re communicating, you’re failing to lead.

I know that’s harsh, but you know it’s true. You can’t treat everything the same.

When you try, you’re actually hurting the chances of getting people to engage in the ministry.

I can’t place the same priority on announcing sign up to be baptized as I do on announcing sign up to join the church softball team.

Does that tick the coach off? Maybe, if they’re more concerned about winning games than they are about seeing people go public with their faith.

If that’s the case, you probably need to get a new coach.

But what you’ll find more often than not is, if you are willing to have the conversation to explain why something isn’t getting announced, most people will understand.

If they don’t, it just shows that they’re more concerned with their event than the mission of the church.

Today, we have a generic bulletin that welcomes people to our church and doubles as our connection card.

The majority of Sundays we have one announcement, except during very busy seasons when we’ll have two.

These announcements always center around the vision of the church and apply to either new guests or at least 50% of the congregation.

If it doesn’t fit those criteria, it may get put on the screen that scrolls before service starts, or on social media, or on nothing at all.

The easy thing to do would be to avoid tough conversations and let anyone promote anything.

If you care about being a leader and reaching a vision, you have to prioritize the important.

What gets announced in your church, and who makes that decision? Let us know be leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church leadership, growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.