In my last post I talked about the value of team church planting. Here are 4 things that we’ve found essential to building a healthy church planting team.
1. Define what you’re inviting people into – Too often planters invite people to their team with no specificity beyond, “help us plant a church.” That’s a good start, but there are a number of definitions and assumptions that are carried about what that means. What kind of church? What will be their role? What promises are you making them? What are you not promising? How long is this commitment? I believe much of the conflict that arises within a team could be avoided if a clearer definition of the future is provided by the planter.
2. Have an assessment – A planter’s responsibility is to “guard the gate” of the vision and church from its inception. One of the best ways to do this is through an assessment. When people came to us expressing interest in joining the core team, we sent them a two page application that got at the heart of key issues and expectations we believed were essential for our new church. Following them filling out that application, we met with them for several hours to ask questions and communicate clearly the vision of the church. Following the interview, we often gave action steps and concerns that needed to be dealt with before joining our team.
3. Be willing to say no – This is the hardest, but no doubt the most important step. When our plant will fit in our living rooms, we want to take anybody and everybody so we feel more like a church and less like a cult. But there are a number of people who just aren’t ready for the pressures and responsibilities of planting a church. If you sense a major problem, it’s far wiser to deal with that prior to planting than to assume everything will work out once the plant has begun.
4. Love them deeply – The people who commit to your vision aren’t cogs in a machine that produces a new church. They are God’s image-bearers who are entrusting their lives to you by being willing to move to a new city for this vision. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) meet every need or be there for every problem, never lose sight of this truth, and love these precious people deeply.
You’re wise to heed the warnings of those who have team-planting horror stories, but I’d encourage you to not allow them to discourage you from enjoying one of the greatest gifts God can give you in your planting journey.