Planting a Church
Jun 6, 2011,Ivan and Isabel Allum
Church planting is one of our greatest passions, but, it is something that requires patience, commitment, and perseverance. There are many who set out to plant churches only to end up disappointed when “it fails”. However, we must understand that there is no failure in church planting. There have been many churches that were planted and later closed in the city where we are and we feel honoured and grateful that others came before us and prepared the ground on which we are planting now. We are blessed as our most recent church plant is the result of a prophecy we received 12 years ago. Therefore, we knew that God had called us to this city.
It is important to know for sure if God is calling you to church plant, or if it is just a good idea. That is the first question you need to answer. Not everyone is called to church planting. Many can pastor and run a church, but the call to church planting can be daunting and will exercise your gift of faith to many extents. After determining that this is what you are called to do, you must decide where God is calling you to. You need to know that not everyone in the area will be happy with your decision to plant a church there. There will be churches and ministries around that will not value your style or type of church, and others that will see you as competition.
The best way to plant a church is to have a team of people with you who want to serve and build the Kingdom. There are many challenges when we plant a church and the first one almost always is worship. Being able to preach a good message is great but good worship will keep people coming. Ask yourself, "Do I like the worship I have?”If the answer is no then it needs to change. If you are being sent out from another church it would be a good idea to borrow or acquire a good worship leader. During the first twelve months worship will either push your church plant forward or will be a dragging anchor. CDs can work, but customizing a good worship program on an iPod or mp3 player will create a more live worship experience. It is important to do a custom mix for every service. Otherwise you will have a stagnant, in the box worship session. Remember that a worship leader would pray about every session, and therefore, the same detail needs to be put in the mix you create. Trust us, doing this for every meeting will keep worship fresh. Yes, it is extra work, but it is well worth it.
One thing we have learned after doing several church plants is that many will come looking for position. Regardless of our need, our policy is that we never release positions until people have spent at least six months with us. I have seen many people who have come with many good ideas and desires to help, but leave when we ask them to hang around for six months so we can get to know them. These are simply opportunists. I have actually seen great distress with other church plants that do not have guidelines in this regard. It is hard to have a policy like this when the church is new and the need is great, but we have never regretted following it.
There are many different ideas and programs on how to start a church in a new city and the idea of home groups is always one of the first thoughts. We love home groups but personally have not used that method to start a church. It has been our experience that people do not believe it is a real church if it is not happening on Sunday morning. Therefore, our approach is to start church plants on Sunday mornings and have home groups throughout the week as well. We have seen over the years that people from other churches come to home groups, Friday night meetings, Saturday night meetings, and Sunday night meetings as an extra meeting. Many of your future leaders will come from other churches in time. Church transfer sadly cannot be stopped. However, you can sift those who are coming to your new plant by having your services at the same time as the other existing churches in your area. Having church on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evening are a great idea and work in some places, but you will have a hard time knowing who is with you since you will probably have many visitors looking for something extra to do. This will make it hard for you to build and release vision. It is better to quickly establish who you can count to help rather than being surprised in a few months.
Facilities are always an issue for new church plants. Some school boards offer discounts to church groups, which is helpful, but finding facilities will be one of the areas that will stretch your faith over time. We have seen the Lord provide miraculously for rent beyond our means, and also saw Him provide a beautiful building for our previous church plant, which we bought while having no money. This brought our monthly costs to a quarter of what we were paying for rent. If you rent space in a school or other reduced rent facility we encourage you to spend some of those savings on a good sound system. You need to think beyond your immediate needs, because when you get into a more expensive rental facility you will need the extra money to carry the overhead. Remember that the excellence of sound and worship is one of your best investments.
One thing we can tell you for sure. Once you have planted your first church you will acquire a passion that will stay with you forever.
Ivan & Isabel Allum
Forest City Destiny Church