Managing Expectations in a New Congregation

Churchgoers tend to have certain expectations for a new church plant — don't let those expectations dictate your plans.

Managing the Clubhouse

The virtual office is easy to operate because we don’t have a physical office. We only meet on Sundays in a movie theater, and during the week in a myriad of home groups. Our home group participation is very high with one group per 11 people in our congregation — another element we don’t want to disturb.

We will soon rent space for mid-week operations. When we do, many will expect us to operate a weekday office from that space. We want to control that expectation. We need space for things like worship team practice, leader’s meetings, etc., but we don’t really need to staff an office. It would cost money and it would cost many people their volunteer slot. Our goal is for people to see the rented space as a kind of church clubhouse rather than an office. We’ll call it a “ministry center,” or some such name. We won’t describe it as our office. If we do this well, we’ll preserve the joy that goes with a church where “everybody plays.” We may not get everyone into the act, but we’re shooting for it.

There are other expectations to manage. We don’t intend to have the hottest worship band in town. We won’t compete with the larger churches in terms of technical coolness. We fully intend to maintain an organic feel in hopes of growing a large church that still feels like a family. Oh, and lest I forget, we want to keep multiplying churches. This Sunday, we commission the pastor of a new Hope Chapel in another state. He came to us for coaching, and we have the privilege of “launching him” during our second weekend as a new church.

In Conclusion

There are expectations and there are expectations. Some of them you need to hold in check while fanning the others into a roaring flame. Forty-one years of doing this has taught me that managing expectations to fit your values is perhaps your most important task as a church planter.

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Ralph Moore
Ralph Moore is the founding pastor of both Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Beginning with just 12 people in 1971, the fruit of this ministry now spans over 700 churches around the world. Many of the churches run several generations deep as each succeeding pastor raises disciples, releasing them to the harvest. Ralph travels extensively, teaching pastors and church leaders the biblical models for healing the nations, spreading the Gospel and church planting.