Planning the church plant, as I’ve mentioned, pretty much starts one year before the big day. I’ve already stated I’m pretty much a fan of the scenario where the Pastor sits with the pastoral candidate, and begins planning it with him. There’s a lot of planning. A lot of decisions. And remember… as the pastor-to-be, you’re second in command. Mess this up and you have to explain it to the boss. That’s the LORD Jesus Christ, in case you forgot. A Church Plant should not be done until you know that you know that you know that Jesus Christ has commissioned you to do this.
- Church statement of faith (plan about six weeks on this)
- Church Member’s Covenant or Contract
- Worker standards
- Church Constitution
- Church Bylaw
- Church plant location set in stone
- Church business plan (this is a generic description for the who, what, when, where, how, how much planning document that you can show to the Pastor, the deacons, etc)
- Church membership list
- Church name
The last one is easy. A piece of notepad paper hung on a wall with #1). on it and a line.
To start off with, you don’t have to go to Dell’s website and order the most expensive laptop you can find as the Pastor’s laptop. Yours will do just fine for the initial planning. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, I’ll give you my recommendation – Libre Office. It’s free. It’s very good. And I have already made a lot of these documents on it or Openoffice, and both are compatible with each other.
Get started. Now, a lot of this was already done for you by Dan Botterbrodt, on his web site, the Independent Baptist Institute (www.teachingallnations.org). There’s a lot of PDF files with templates already made.
I used my Seminary’s statement of faith as a template, using their “1.1.1” format, and choosing roughly the same topics in the same areas. I then closed the original file, opened my Bible, took a deep breath, and started writing. It took about a month, but I tend to work very fast. Plan on six weeks for your statement of faith, and don’t be afraid for your pastor to look at it. Matter of fact, if he’s willing to go over it and critique it, I recommend letting him do it.
Next is your church business plan. Now, all the experts want you to name your church plant next. You know what? It’s not that important right now. At the top of all your documents, try this…
“NEW BAPTIST CHURCH”
It’s what I called mine when I was planning it. How’s mine? Well, haven’t received a go-ahead from God to do more than plan all this. If I want to fail spectacularly, I should rush out right now and start it.
When you get to the time when you’re going to start buying stuff, then… think of a name. I have a huge list of church names, and it’s not too difficult to think of one. By the way, do you know what the most popular name for a church that started as the result of a church split is? “Liberty Baptist Church.” Whenever I’m driving someplace rural and I see one, I pretty much know the history of it.
Your church member’s covenant can be as detailed or loose as you need it to be. Dan Botterbrodt has a lot to say on that, because he gives one as a template. His suggestions are in the downloadable PDF ib-11113184235-1 (Church Polity). The ideas are… what will you want your congregation to adhere to? What will you ask they refrain from? Dan’s template actually left me feeling very upbeat reading it, in that it sounded exciting – this is a church I want to be part of!!! As ong as the sanctuary doesn’t have red carpeting! (experienced pastors will laugh at that line). What’s your churches stand on…
lawsuits among Christians?
If you have no stand on these issues, it’ll be a very brief and easy church covenant. And your church may end up a mess as a result. All of the above are discussed in Dan’s sample covenant – with the exception of tapioca, but I’m sure it just slipped his mind.
This further brings it up whether you want to make any item enforceable by church discipline… or by leaving it up to God. I think church discipline should be done sparingly, and usually in the matter of doctrine. That’s me. This is your church plant.
Worker Standards: By all means, anyone who works in the church needs to adhere to worker standards. They have to live a life that’s beyond reproach. And trust me, you get tested on this. The matter of the dress code, church attendance, or even tardiness will be challenged within the first six months after your first service. You have to stick to your guns. A worker in the church represents that church. They’re the face of your church. When someone gets in the sunday school class, they are just as influenced by the teacher as by you – if not more so. Make sure your teachers wear suit and tie. That’s my advice. Women should dress appropriately.
The church constitution is literally that which makes the church. I have one that’s about 75% done. Not rushing on it right now, because the Lord hasn’t commisioned me to do anything more than study church plants right now.
Once I finish that, including the name of that church, it’s alive. It has a candlestick. That’s my belief. If you don’t understand the candlestick reference yet, you’re not ready to pastor yet. I suggest you make the church constitution and church statement of faith non-amendable right in the text of the Church Constitution. Why???
So no heretic Emergent can worm their way in, get a power base in your church, and start bringing in idolatry or heretical doctrine.
This is the operating heart of the church. How is a member acccepted? When is the Lord’s Table celebrated? When are church business meetings? Are they loose, or according to Robertson’s Rules of order? how is a pastor chosen? Etc.
Since the church became a living thing once you finish the church constitution, now you have to figure out…. where??? There’s all kinds of things to consider. Don’t pick an area based on emotional feeling. “When I saw the town, I just wept!” Well, that can become, “When I lost my pulpit, I wept…”
Is it an area where there’s two or three Fundamentalist churches close by? “Close” means demographically. Some towns can have a Baptist church every fourth block, because there’s a dense population, travel is difficult, and the population has the mindset of “work, grocery store, home” ingrained in them. For example, a town or city can be 20 miles away from another, but the travel makes that near impossible. For instance, any of the suburbs around Atlanta. One to the next one, yeah. One to a town two towns away… uh… no. Forget it. not happening.
I visited a town in Texas once for work where the mindset of “no more than four or five blocks” was ingrained in people’s minds, just due to traffic pressure.
In most cases, you’re starting your church plant not too far from the sending church. Again, that’s something to discuss with your pastor, your spouse, God (not in this order) and of course, is your job still accessible from the new place. No sense driving 70 minutes one way to work – by the time the church is in the second year, you’ll be hospitalized from exhaustion.
By this time, the church busniess plan should be complete. You’ll basically have been plugging in data from all your work on your various documentation.
A thorough study of church polity is needed before you can begin this kind of work. Any study of church polity will quickly ennumerate the various details you need to consider. You certainly won’t get all the info from this blog post!