One question that has come to me is
What can a new church plant do to increase it’s membership?
For the last 15 years, I’ve been involved in planting two churches.
Both churches were designed for immigrants.
One of our core values was to “gather the nations to worship Christ.”
We felt that our church planting call was to reach out to different nationalities and grow a multi-cultural congregation of new believers.
I’ve served in the Associate Pastor role because that suits me and my gifting. I had taken a church planting assessment and discovered that I wasn’t gifted as the pioneer church planter who carried the vision, but rather gifted in a support role to come alongside that planter.
I learned a few things along the way that you may find helpful.
Every new church development wants to grow.
Each lead pastor has a burden to reach people for Christ.
Every church planting leader wants to see the fruit of their efforts and labor in the number of people coming to Christ.
They don’t want transfer growth from other churches (though that will happen).
They want new believers.
1). Prioritize evangelism to reach people for Christ.
Find ways to share the gospel as you serve and build relationships with the community.
Do not allow your outreaches to simply be good deeds than any non-profit can do. As you serve, share the gospel (read more).
Find ways to encourage your members to be involved in personal evangelism where they live. You’ll need to equip them regularly.
Any church planting leader must prioritize personal evangelism, as they will be the models that others will follow.
Hold your leaders accountable to having faith sharing conversations with at least 1 person a week, if not more. Debrief and review those conversations regularly.
2). Develop your leaders to carry out the vision.
Don’t let immature leaders derail your vision. Be sure to teach potential leaders how to deal with conflict and reconciliation.
In our context we started growing new Christians into leaders. That intentional discipleship was planned to create leaders worthy of becoming elders. Along the way, immaturity created conflict and immature reactions derailed us for a while. We had to work through that conflict and it took us a year. The end result – several people left, nearly decimating our young congregation. We’ve learned from that mistake.
You may already have your team of leaders who helped you form your church. Continue to invest in them. Empower them to carry out the plan that God has laid upon your heart as the lead planter. Once you empower them, encourage them.
3). Saturate yourself in the Word.
Keep your communications and sermons centered on the Scripture.
There will be temptations to focus on felt needs. I’ve seen felt needs preaching go to the extreme of simple self-help that is devoid of Scripture. Make sure you keep yourself anchored in Scripture when you teach.
Use Scripture in your decision making. The Bible is full of wisdom that can be discovered through regular reflection and meditation, as the Holy Spirit reveals truth that is applicable to your context and time.
Hold your leaders accountable to a personal devotional life where they are reading and sharing Scripture with people.
4). Cast the church vision.
This needs to become the DNA and it comes only through repeated explanation, application, and re-statement. Every person getting involved needs to know what your church exists for.
People will gather around a vision. That vision will motivate and inspire volunteers to give of their time, talent, and treasure. That vision will inspire people to live up to it and carry it out.
Help your leaders and people to know: “This is who we are” and “This is what we will do.”
In my first church plant, we boiled it down to this phrase: “Gather the nations to worship Christ.” That captured the ethos of reaching out to immigrants and inviting them to church.
In my second church plant, we boiled it down to “Help families follow Christ and experience His grace.” That captured the ethos of seeking families that needed healing and helped define our programming.
Provide your leaders with consistent clear direction and vision. There is nothing more frustrating to your leaders than a changing vision that shifts from month to month. If you are the primary leader – make sure your vision is clear, and that it’s consistent.
Be sure to clearly communicate that vision regularly.
5). Don’t overstart.
In a new church plant, the temptation will come to start all sorts of ministries:
- Food pantry
- Worship team
- Men’s ministry
- Women’s ministry
- Community service ministries
- Social service projects
- Park Outreaches
- Visitations to Hospitals, Elder care homes, or orphanages.
Too many initiatives at one time will dilute the efforts of your church. When your church is small, focus on one thing. You cannot become all things to all people. As a leader, you cannot do it all.
You’ll have to navigate what are the core ministries.
We empowered too many people to do too many things and that led to vision confusion.
A Starter Resource
Get the download copy of my teaching “Simple Steps to Personal Evangelism” ($10). With your one copy, you’ll have the right to share this valuable teaching with your entire team.
In this 70 minute MP3 AUDIO recording on personal evangelism you will learn:
- How church invitations are part of evangelism
- How to discover and share your own journey to faith
- What you can say about the gospel message.
- How to personally lead someone to faith in Christ.
It’s a 70 minute audio file that takes just a few minutes to download, but it may help you answer the question:
What can you do in the next 90 days to grow in your evangelism skills?
You need to hold your leaders accountable to personal evangelism when you are planting a church, and this is one way to help provide some practical training for them.