Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Top Ten Reasons for Church Plant Failures

This is a list I have developed over the years and have collected some ideas from others:

10. No Assessment of the Church Planter
"He's a great guy, (we don't need to assess him)."
Lack of assessment is the equivalent of hiring someone just because of how they look, or whom they know…it fails to go beyond the surface. The church planter assessment is an instrument that helps sponsoring churches and others that work with church planters to know how the planter measures in the thirteen most crucial characteristics found in successful church starters. Every sponsoring church needs to be sure that the planter they have selected is assessed, and approved, by our denominational leaders.

9. No Contextualization
"This kind of church will work anywhere."
This statement is na├»ve to anyone who has lived in other parts of the country. The differences are great! While models for starting new work may transcend context (not in all cases, though), the need to modify and adapt them to the particular culture and environment of the new church plant is immense. Sponsoring churches need to be sure that the strategies undertaken are “community-compliant”.

8. No Planning
"Plan??? Are you crazy?
We've got a church to plant." Planning is the bedrock of intentionality, a critical ingredient in almost every successful church start. We have all heard it before: to fail to plan is to plan to fail. Church starters need a vision, values, and a mission to accomplish the vision and goals and action plans to achieve those ends. Anything else is spontaneous, and the odds would suggest, will end up in spontaneous
combustion. Sponsoring churches need to be sure that the new church starter
has a written strategy in place before he starts, and adaptable along the journey.

7. No Covenant
"Don't worry about it, we'll all get along."
Church starters that fail to develop a covenant with their sponsoring church is setting themselves up for difficulty. A wise church starter will use theopportunity to surface expectations and relational concerns that need to be dealt with in advance. These boundaries and responsibilities will keep communication
lines open, and relationships growing. Doing correctly, a covenant can be the most advantageous tool for all parties involved in the church starting process.

6. No Connection with Unchurched People
"We will evangelize later."
A new church start without evangelism is at best, sheep stealing, and at worst, dead weight. Evangelism and church starting are two sides of the same coin; both need each other to continue. Sponsoring churches need to model evangelism and to encourage new church starters in this area, reminding them that church starting is the number one method of effective EVANGELISM in the world today.

5. Premature Public Launch
“We can’t afford to wait any longer to start worship.”
Starting at the right time is an art, not a science. The window for momentum’s sake is usually between eighteen weeks and eighteen months. The optimum time is six months to a year. That being said, the pressure will be great (internal as well as external) to get to public worship quickly. As a sponsoring church encourage the church starter to wait until his core group is above 35, or at the very least 25, before he starts services.

4. No Sharing Ministry with the Laity
"I'm the Church Planter and it's my job to do it all."
Church starters are by nature self-starters. Unfortunately, that usually means they are oblivious to the need to delegate, especially early in the process. Not only is it good theology to involve the laity according to their giftedness, it’s a practical help to the new church starter. A sponsoring church can help keep a church starter from this mistake by providing a few capable people to help assist the starter in the beginning stages of the new work, or by inquiring regularly as to others who are assisting him in the work being done.

3. No Support Network
“We don’t need any help; we can do it ourselves.”
The top complain new church starters have is that they feel so all alone, so isolated, in their work. To that end, our denomination and local entities have worked diligently to provide a nurturing, encouraging support network for the new work starter. This includes a mentor (not the same as the supervisor; his job is to listen and encourage the new work starter), a Church Planting Network (a support group of his peers), a partnership church (s), and you…his sponsoring church. New church starters need to know of your continuing prayer, love, support and encouragement. It makes a world of difference to him.

2. No Prayer
“I’m just too busy to pray right now…there’s so much to do.”
One of the grave dangers in church ministry in general, and certainly in church starting, is the neglect of prayer. The rationalization is usually based on the need to do so much, when no one else is available to help in the work itself. While we may have all felt that way at times, nothing could be farther from the truth of what we need. The remainder of a sponsoring church that this is God’s church we are starting, not our own, can serve as a corrective in this area, as well as accountability in the area of the planter’s own personal walk with the Lord.

1. No Commitment to the Call
“If this doesn’t work out, I can always go back home to minister.”
The number one reason church starters fail, in our opinion, is a lack of abandonment to the call of new church starting. Sometimes the romance of a new church start, or the appeal of no history or tradition to fight, prompts ministers to want to start a new

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Lewis, I just realized all your top ten begin with NO. All negative excuses instead of yes? A sermon in there somewhere, I think.

    God bless your ministry.