Championship teams in sports are always great at the fundamentals. And great church plants have great church planting fundamentals.
Right now, all over the country, kids are being coached in the fundamentals of football. Every team starts the season out with an emphasis on these fundamentals. So what are the fundamentals of church planting? At Stadia, we measure five key vitals of church planting, or the fundamentals.
Commonly called a launch team, Stadia classifies team players as being people 16 or older who are actively serving in a ministry role and/or giving financially. For years, research has suggested a minimum of 40 team players are needed to launch a healthy church plant. Some of the research has suggested this number is 50. You can have perfected systems, lots of money, a great facility and state-of-the art equipment, but none of these things make a church. People are the church. According to research by the Leadership Network (see below for link), it takes the average church plant four years to reach 100 people. This time can be greatly reduced with a healthy group of at least 40 team players before the church starts.
Potential Team Players.
This vital seeks to measure the impact of a new churches networking, community outreach and marketing in a community. These are difficult things to measure, and we are still learning. A potential team player is anyone you have contact information for in the community. I would suggest setting a goal for at least 500. This can easily be reached by leveraging team players, networking with community leaders and serving the community.
We have each church planter create a volunteer matrix of every role that needs to be filled in order to carry out the vision of the new church. This matrix should show the value of reproduction ingrained in the DNA of every church plant. We set a goal for each church plant to fill 80 percent of these roles prior to starting the church. Oftentimes, team players assume several roles within this matrix. It is essential to the health and sustainability of the church that new people are equipped and released to assume roles within the matrix. This ensures the initial team players don’t get burned out and that newcomers to the church can get connected.
Church plants costs money, especially up front. This is one of the biggest advantages missional communities have over large churches. Toward the beginning of the planting process, a Stadia project manager takes the vision of the church planter and builds a budget to support it. This budget gives the church planter a figure to shoot for in fundraising. Each month, fundraising is measured to ensure the vision for the church isn’t being stifled by lack of funds. Planters often overlook the importance of stewardship development with team players. While outside funding is necessary, sustainability comes when team players give. The church planter should develop a plan for discipling team players in the area of giving.
Project Task List.
A church planter’s vision is the desired result of planting the church. The Stadia project management team comes alongside the church planter and works backwards to develop a project task list to take the new church from where it is today to that desired result. Each church plant typically has a few hundred tasks that must be accomplished in order to reach the vision. It requires attention to detail. Entrepreneurial visionaries, which most church planters are, do not excel at the details. They need help. That’s why every Stadia church gets a trained and experienced project manager to keep the planter on task and to accomplish many of the administrative tasks for them. Each task on the list is assigned a due date and progress on the list is measured monthly.
In addition to the Stadia’s key vitals, there are also some widely held best practices that we hold to. Many of these best practices are found in Leadership Networks’s research called Improving the Health and Survivability of Church Planting found on their site. They are:
- Coaching. Each planter is provided with an experienced church planting coach for 18–24 months.
- Assessment. Each church planter is independently assessed prior to being hired by the church plant.
- Training. Stadia conducts two training events. One is a pre-launch training that focuses on the nuts and bolts of church planting. The second training happens 12–18 months after the church has started and focuses on reproduction, leadership development and other issues the planters are facing.
Stadia also adds:
- Accounting Services. Stadia provides accounting services for the church plant for the first 18 months through an independent vendor.
- Project Management. Stadia’s project management team helps the church planter by freeing them from much of the administrative burden of a church plant and serves as a treasure trove of information for all things church planting. Having worked with more than 100 church plants, the project management team has seen most everything.
At Stadia we value holy discontent. This means we don’t have it all figured out and are always trying to find better ways to plant churches. What do you see missing from our church planting fundamentals? What can we learn from you? For further reading, see:
- Improving the Health and Survivability of Church Plants. http://leadnet.org/resources/download/improving_health_and_survivability_of_new_churches_state_of_church_planting
- Planting Fast Growing Churches by Stephen Gray
- Church Planting Landmines by Tom Nebel and Gary Rohrmayer