3. What is expected of you?
This is a two-fold question. First, what is expected of your time. And second, what are the metrics of success and expectations for your plant? As a church planter, your sole focus should be on the church that God has called you to plant. The organization’s role should be to support you however they can. Different organizations have different expectations and demands on your time, and you need to be familiar with those expectations up front. These demands/expectations are not a bad thing. The motivations behind them are good, whether they are training exercises of sorts, meetings that discuss the future of the organization, networking opportunities, etc.
However, if you are expected to leave your city for these kinds of events more than four times a year, it is more than likely too much. It will drag on you, and it will drag on your congregation. Be sure to take that into account. Your schedule as a church planter is already going to be hectic, and to add in one more thing can be a tipping point toward burnout. As for the expectation of success, you need to know the scorecard the organization is playing with. This will dictate what their expectations are of you. You will need to play by their scorecard, so you need to agree with it.
If you are wanting to start a different church that is atypical for that organization, then there could be a challenge down the road for you. I would recommend talking with them up front about their scorecard, asking whether they would be willing to toss their scorecard aside for the vision of the church that you have, and then offering them a replacement scorecard they can use to evaluate you with.
4. What do other people say about the church plant partner?
When it’s all said and done, you need to ask others about the reputation and reliability of the organization. Don’t simply ask those who have successfully planted with that organization, but also those whose church plants didn’t make it. You will gain a wealth of information and stories, you’ll hear the frustrations and the positives, and this will help you gain a clearer picture of what partnership with that organization will look like, and perhaps how they have learned from past failings. Remember it’s important to ask specifics, and be sure to ask questions that stem from your concerns.
Remember, partnering with an organization is a two-way street. You are not only courting them; they should be courting you as well. Don’t allow the fear of money and the loneliness of planting be the motivators for partnering with an organization. You need to make sure you have a good fit.
If I had it to do all over again, I would still partner with an organization or two to plant a church. I believe in partnership, and I believe in the synergy and momentum that partnership provides. I would, however, enter differently into those partnerships, and as a result I believe the partnership would not only be more beneficial for all involved, but more successful.