Planning a Plant

Last year my wife and I made our first attempt to grow a garden.  Now what you need to know about my wife and I is this - I am impulsive and she is a planner.  My motto is “Ready, Fire, Aim” while she is worried about all the details that must go into any process (including gardening).  And as we set out to plant our garden she began to do research and plan for what we needed.  I, on the other hand, was ready to go buy seed and drop it in the ground (I mean, that is the instruction on the back of the chia pet box, right?)  She was taking the time to map out the process of the garden to ensure a harvest of some nice, hearty fruits and vegetables while, in my pride, minimized the need for a plan.  I, unlike my wife, was unaware of several things to consider:  the quality of the soil, deciding what to plant, when to plant, and where to plant.  She was diligent to do her research and plan.  She was wise in learning from others, I was not.   I was unwilling to get wisdom from others who had gone before me and had success.  So as the great, outstanding leader of our home, I ignored my wife’s research and wisdom of others, put the seed in the ground and the outcome was anything but stellar.  From the amount of money we invested the harvest was three tomatoes at an average price of $20 a piece along with cucumbers at $4 a piece.  This was not what she or I dreamed about.  Our garden did not look like the cornfields of Nebraska.  A failure to plan and have the right “ingredients” resulted in minimal success and abysmal failure. Church planting is very similar to this process.  The need to have a plan in place before you actually plant is vital.  Church planting is not for the impulsive but for the planner.  You cannot expect to see your church thrive without a strategic plan and the right “ingredients”  So here are my thoughts (note exhaustive) on what your plan needs to entail.

1. Pray Pray and ask the Lord if you should plant a church in the first place.  Pray and ask the Lord if this is his desire or just simply your desire because church planting is hip and cool.  Pray for direction.  Pray for strength and grace and mercy.  Pray for humility.  Pray for wisdom and understanding about this new church plant endeavor.

2. Get Affirmation Ask the godly men in your life and the elders of your local church if they think you are “cut out” for this.  You need to ask others because all too often we see ourselves to be better and more capable than we really are. NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO PLANT A CHURCH.  IT IS HARD AND DIFFICULT AND REQUIRES PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE.   You also need to be humble enough to accept a “no” answer and to seek the Lord for a different direction.

3. Decide where you are going to plant Will it be urban, sub-urban, or rural?  What city will you plant in?  Furthermore what kind of soil are you dealing with?  Will it be Boston, Seattle, Toronto, etc where the soil is extremely rocky and dry with 5% or less evangelicals in the whole city?  Or will it be Dallas, TX or Birmingham, AL where church attendance is high but gospel growth is low?  What do you need to take into consideration as you prepare to plant in various soils?

4. What kind of church will you plant? What will be the DNA of your church.  Every vegetable grown from the ground has DNA.  What will be the DNA of your church?  What aspects of your church will exist on day one and on day 5,402.  For our NACPF churches the DNA is going to be quite similar as we put massive importance on expositional preaching, on the gospel, on community, and on missions.  Now we may differ on methodology depending upon our context but our DNA’s are very similar.  You must decide what the DNA of your church will be from the outset.

5. Miscellaneous, but very important a. Name - What will be the name of your church and why. b. Website - You need to figure out who will create and host your website.  Do you have someone who can create this or do you need to utilize a CMS like ekklesia360 to help? You will also need to register a domain for you website.  I would encourage you to purchase several in case you want to change in the future.  At least you will always own it. c. Logo - Choose this wisely and consider what it communicates. d. Incorporation e. 501C3 status

5. Recruit Your Team “Who’s coming with me?” (the words uttered by Jeremy Maguire as he was leaving his corporate job to start his own company). You need to find some humble, thankful, gifted, and godly men and women to go with you.  This part of the plan cannot be over emphasized enough.  If your team is not well balanced and they have not learned to work through conflict it will spell disaster.  The team you put together can make or break the planting process.  They can hinder and destroy.  They can be a burden instead of a blessing.  Make sure you get this right!  It also needs to be mentioned that the lead planter, not anyone else needs to hand pick these people.  And as you hand pick them here are, what I believe to be, three essentials regarding the giftings that must be present. a. Administration b. Technology c. Music

The lead pastor must be able to teach, cast vision for his team, and then have some men and women to fill these above roles.  In addition to this team approach YOU MUST HAVE A LOCAL CHURCH THAT SENDS YOU OUT.  The church who sends you out is a part of your team and you must have this support.  Research shows that a church that is planted by an established church has a much higher rate of success.

6. Keep Praying Don’t ever forget your dependence upon the Lord to build his church through the process.

7. Team Building Make sure that you are spending time with your team and you are meeting regularly to build community and work through your difference.  Allow the pastors of your sending church and other planters to speak into your lives and help build team unity.  Invite them in to help you avoid the pitfalls that many of us have already encountered.

8. Raise Finances Planting a church is not impossible without finances but it sure makes it a lot easier and greatly improves your chances of survival.  You need finances from other supporting church’s along with individual donors.  This is a vital and timely process that can take a year or more so do not wait too late to begin this process.

9. Set a Budget This is somewhat difficult since you have no previous history.  You will need to make decisions on staff salaries, missions, rent, etc. as you seek to raise support.  

10. How will you launch your church? I do not have time to detail the different approaches to starting a church but you must consider how you are going to do this.  Will we have an official launch without a small core team or large core team?  Will we have an official launch at all?  These questions and many more need to be asked.

11. Where will you meet? Home? School? Movie Theatre? Bar? Funeral Home? (not joking) Retail?  What piece of land will you need to start your garden on?  And as you consider these options begin asking what the pros and cons of the building will be.

12. What will you preach in the first year. Consider this with wisdom as you will need to keep casting vision as you preach.

13. What will your music look like? This needs to be the conviction of the lead planter along with the minister of music (AKA the worship guy).  There needs to be solidarity on this.

Again, this list is not exhaustive and you will find that you will need to plan in other ways as well.  The point here is this: Planting takes planning.  Failure to plan is a plan for failure.  As God is a God of order, so too do we need to be pastors and planters who are planning and ordered in our approaches to ministry.  It is good and necessary to plan but as you plan and prepare remember the wise words of Solomon

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV) and, Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21, ESV)

You and I can plan all day and cross every “t” and dot every “i” but the Lord will establish our steps and his plan will stand.  His plans cannot be thwarted and we must never push ahead with our plans until we also know that it is the Lord’s plan.  Pray, Plan, and Submit to your Sovereign Lord as you go out. Plan, but be flexible; and when God makes clear his plan, submit and lay your plans to the side and follow his lead.

Russ BennettRuss Bennett is the Lead Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Myrtle Beach SC. His desire in all things is that God be glorified through the passionate, joyful, missional living of the church. Russ is married to the beautiful Miranda Bennett and they have three children, Bailey, Cohen, and Ellie. Russ enjoys family time, reading, playing golf, and watching basically anything that involves a ball.