Back in 2012, I took about five different Church planting checklists I found, and combined them all into one document. I wasn’t sure if God had that ministry in mind for me or not (still don’t know). But in case it was, I wanted to be ready.
I’ve got to say – Rick Warren and Bill Hybels have completely destroyed the concept of “church” almost once and for all. Now you have to decide if you’re doing a “Willow Creek” model or possibly even a “purpose Driven” or possibly a “Cowboy Church” – and nobody even questions it.
Do we REALLY think that when the Temple descends from Heaven in the Millennium, people will sit on bales of hay and listen to the Lord preach a sermon wearing a string necktie and a 5 gallon hat? Or that the Praise Band will perform Purple Haze?
Anyway, getting back on to the checklist, I personally try to not give too much in the way of checklist in anything other than to say you should do almost everything today.
One of the checklist things I have in my combined church planter checklist is…
“Develop a written Purpose Statement that explains why this church exists.” If I were actually following this checklist, my answer would be “Great Commission”.
“Write a short paper explaining how you will keep the competing Mission factors in balance.” Answer: What are you talking about???
“Develop a Strategy Statement that explains how you will achieve your Mission goals”. Answer: “Prayer, hard work, let God do it.”
As you can see, not a lot there is helpful or Bibllcal.
Going through Dan Botterbrodt’s “Guide To Church Planting”, I don’t see a checklist. Suffice it to say, I think a one year plan is good. It’s not Biblical – I mean, back in those days without licenses, incorporating, tax laws, and a mobile population who found it easy to pack all their belongings in a rag and go…. one simply moved to Corinth, preached in the marketplace, got one or two persons converted… and your church was started that day. One thing that isn’t discussed too often is the Sending Church doctrine, and I’ve hit on that a little… but back then every church was started by someone sent out from another church. People were ordained as pastors and commissioned to go forth and preach the gospel.
So, do all the paperwork I’ve described (I’ll finish up talking about those soon). Leave something undone, because what happens now is that once you’ve finished everything that makes a church today, your church is alive. I recommend for now keeping the name of your church as “New Baptist Church” on all your documents. ONCE you have the name of the church, it then is alive. How can it be alive without two members? Simple. You and your wife. Good and simple answer.
Strong recommendation – if you are single, and not working as a team with someone, don’t do a church plant. Wait until you’ve got experience in a church first. You need someone to help, at least hear your frustrations and help you carry the load. If you’re doing it by yourself, there’s too much of a chance you’ll wreck it.
Once you have the paperwork done, you are ready. A lot of organizations insist you have to move somewhere. If that’s your calling and burden, fine. But for example, my city has I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands living in it.
There’s only a handful of Fundamentalist churches in it. One is Baptist Brider. Another is Ruckmanite. Another is the Desperate Church I talked about before, where they swarm all over new visitors (EEEK). And there’s a bigger church in another area of town, but questions have been raised about their King James Only stance lately, and it’s enough to make me concerned.
Clearly, in the city I live in (large geographically), you could squeeze in another Fundamentalist church in there and it wouldn’t hurt the others. So, if you’re in the same situation… why move? So let’s say that from the date I was writing this (Oct. 31) I decided I was going to start a church plant. Yessir, Hallelujah, I was gonna do it. Well, my target date for that church plant would be Nov. 1, 2016.
I would sit and go through the Statement of Faith (already done) and tighten up any areas I was unhappy with.
I would begin working on my 50’s (enough sermons to last 50 weeks)
I would look into my Sunday School materials, and would probably commit to buying a case of them from Way of Life (Yessir!!!!). David Cloud sometimes has sales, so I’d wait a month or two and see if there was any sales on what I needed. I’d hassle Dan Botterbrodt about perhaps making his books available for sale, or going to one of the “publish on Demand” sites and uploading his PDF’s to print out any materials by him I thought we could use.
- One Year Discipleship course
- Things Hard to Be Understood
Once we got close to year two, I’d start working in the ABSS materials.
Lord’s supper ware would have to be obtained – but in reality, that probably could wait until I had enough members to need a building.
I’d go through my Church Constitution and By-laws (most of this is already done!) and finish it up, except for the church name.
Church believer’s covenant would need to be worked on. By the way, Dan Botterbrodt has a LOT of really good templates for all of this… I’ll be giving examples of these over the next few days.
I’ve already done a lot of work on this stuff, so I’d really be ready in two months, except for my “50’s”. And I’ve got a database of some 18 sermons I’ve already written and preached. I’ve got more that I’ve written, but I’d never preach, so those really need to be deleted!!! For your 50’s, it’s really simple – plan on writing one to two sermons a week. Your sermonettes should be written in chunks. Say, five or six at a time, perhaps on a Saturday morning or something. Most preachers use outlines. I’m too fixed in my ways – I like to write them word for word. I really need to change that.
Pulpit Bibles would need to be obtained. For now, for a church plant, that’s easy – just order some basic King James Bibles. Or try a visit to a thrift store! (don’t get the little ones – that’s kind of mean to the over-50 crowd. I used to be able to see the wrinkles on ant antennae. Now, I’m blessed if I can see the ants!!!). You need probably five of them. (FIVE??? Yeah. Trust me, you can buy more later!!!)
Hymnals. Choose one. Get five to seven. If you are optimistic, get a case. Me, I think it’s silly to get that many when your church is going to be 2 to five people the first month.
Be aware, the first dozen people who join the church will probably end up your Deacons, your Sunday School teachers. Preaching doctrinally the first year is MANDATORY.
If I was going to go 503 (c) or whatever it was, I’d look at how long that takes, and get that going at the last minute. I mean, if you open your door on Nov. 1 and nobody shows up but you and your wife, did it matter if the 503 was done or not?
I don’t know if churches were taxed in Caesar’s day or not. But personally, I don’t think it’s biblical to avoid paying taxes.
Follow your local laws about whether a house of worship must be incorporated with the state or not. We obey those who have the rule over us, except where it contradicts the word of God.
Here’s the first lesson you learn – procrastination means you are not cut out for the Ministry. Get rid of that bad habit NOW, or when you hit red zone (three months from opening) you need to pull the plug. If you are not ready three months from opening day… stop. Go no further.
Do not harm or destroy the lives of church members by putting your hand to the plow and not following through. If you are at three months away and not done with everything (and in regards to the 50’s means you don’t have at least 35 sermons written)… stop. Admit that the Lord was not behind you in this, or that you failed the Lord by not doing your part.
The decision to start a church involves a decision to leave your current church. If it’s a Godly Bible believing church… that’s not a decision you undertake lightly.
Consider printing up some small tri-fold pamphlets that explain your church’s stand on any hot-button issue you feel strongly enough to be addressed. Mine would be…
- King James Only
- Local church
- coffee (okay, I’m kidding)
All this should be WRITTEN by Three Month Out date. The last three months need to involve a flurry of activity of buying the materials above, finishing the last of the 50’s by one month out (do not slack on this!!! You need that comfort zone of knowing that if you get really busy, your sermons are ready! And trust me, if you don’t… Satan’s going to make sure you DO get too busy to write sermons!!!).
The LAST thing you need to do is come up with the name of your church. And put that on all of your church paperwork.
Now it’s for real. And as a pastor, you’re now accountable for it before the Lord.