If you feel a calling to plant a church, then you truly are in for an incredibly rewarding spiritual adventure.
Too many times, people get caught up in the excitement of their church planting experience, get overwhelmed with all the moving parts, or don’t conduct all of the necessary research to ensure success. No matter how honorable their intentions, the plans for the church falls through. Don’t let that happen to you!
Just by reading this, you’re on a great track to start the church planting process because you’re conducting crucial research. The next step is to allow key principles to guide your work. We have compiled 8 effective principles to keep in mind while planting your church:
- Pray frequently.
- Communicate your intentions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Develop your mission statement.
- Focus on your supporters.
- Develop your network.
- Don’t get discouraged.
- Remain flexible.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Plan your church planting process and allow the Lord to guide you to grow this small seed to a flowering congregation. Let’s dive into the first principle!
Church Planting Principle #1: Pray frequently.
Being called to plant a church is truly a gift, but it can seem overwhelming at times. Relying on prayer to guide you through the toughest of times is an important founding principle you should never lose sight of. There is no reason to be anxious when you can rely on prayer to guide you through.
We recommend keeping a constant prayer list to write down your anxieties and worries during the planting process. This list may consist of prayer concerns such as:
- Garnering support for the church. Churches are not the physical building in which you worship, but the congregation members who gather in the name of God. Keep in your thoughts the necessity of spreading the word and building a strong support base.
- Financing your church. Money is a top stressor for planting churches. As much as we’d like to think we can do it for free, the process can be expensive. Pray for the Lord to guide your financing strategy and for ample charitable tithing.
- Wisdom in teaching. Pray for the Lord to guide your teachings to reflect His intentions in order to communicate effectively with your supporters. Worship sermons are a founding element for your church, so keep them in your prayers always.
Keeping a list helps you to organize your thoughts to bring them to God. Not only this, but it can help with your planning process to allow the Lord to guide your feet in the direction He intends.
Church Planting Principle #2: Communicate your intentions.
Communication is key to building trust with your church’s members and prospective attendees. It can make you feel vulnerable to be entirely transparent with your supporters, but it is a necessary step to establish trust for your new church.
This trust is so important for your church planting process. When people trust your leadership, they will be more likely to give to the project, pray for your success, and become a member.
Make sure you have a communication strategy in place to help you effectively correspond with your supporters. Here are some of our top strategies to start with:
- Communicate the “why” first. When you tell someone you are planting a church, it can be easy for them to write you off and say, “oh they’re just another evangelical here to convert everyone.” But if you begin your conversation with your reasoning for planting the church instead of the actions you are taking, it leaves less room for assumptions. Be clear from the beginning to reduce confusion and keep people’s hearts open to the idea.
- Openly convey your plans. This is an essential element of trust, and might seem like a simple communication tactic. It gets harder when things don’t go exactly as you planned. But you should still communicate the truth in these trying times! When things go wrong, come up with a way to get things back on track, and tell your supporters. Keeping these things from them will only put stress on your relationships you’ve worked hard to build.
- Vary your methods of communication. Different methods of communication are effective for different groups of people. Be sure you have different methods of communication so that everyone has access to your important ideas. For example, write church communication letters to supporters for older audiences. You may also create a website and keep a general audience updated with service times and updates. Finally, create social media accounts for in-time update to appeal to younger audiences.
Establishing trust is a huge building block for assembling your foundation of an initial support group because it is part of what keeps them coming back week after week.
Church Planting Principle #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When planting a church, we tend to want to give and give and give to the community. After all, giving back is part of the reason we are establishing a church in the first place!
That’s part of what makes asking for financial help one of the most difficult tasks for leaders planting a church. However, it is also one of the most absolutely necessary tasks to complete.
There is no shame in asking for money to help establish your church. In fact, it can be a humbling experience to admit that you need help.
In addition to passing around an offering plate each Sunday, some strategies to raise money in your community include:
- Setting up an online contribution page. Online contribution pages make it easy for supporters to give to your church from their home computers. They don’t need to worry if they forget to bring cash to church on Sunday. Plus, you can direct people to this page from your website so that they can give automatically after reading about your church plant.
- Encouraging a mobile text-to-tithe process. Mobile tithing is a relatively new method of giving for churches. It is an easy method of giving for everyone with a smart phone (which is almost everyone). They can simply send a text from the pew using a preset number shown in their bulletin.
- Conducting some of our top church fundraising ideas. This list of 85+ fundraisers will help you come up with fun and effective ways to raise money. Plus, many of the featured events will help establish your church community in addition to raising money.
Fundraisers not only help raise money, but can also help to spread the word about your church. When you host an event, sell merchandise, or ask your supporters to share online fundraisers, people are bound to ask where the gift money will go. When they do, you have the perfect opportunity to tell them all about your plans for this new church plant.
Church Planting Principle #4: Develop your mission statement.
Your mission statement encompasses your vision for your new church. It acts as a guiding force for the church itself and will help your church plant to blossom down the line.
Use your mission statement as a positive force to drive your church forward. This is the underlying statement for all of your actions. It will, therefore, be ever present in your mind. Take the time to make your statement a good one!
When writing a church’s mission statement, follow the steps featured in our guide for nonprofit mission statements:
- Understand your reason for writing.
- Gather a team to work on the statement.
- Make sure your statement is actionable and clear.
- Prioritize your congregation’s goals.
- Test a draft of the statement by asking your supporters their opinions.
While typical nonprofit organizations and churches differ in many ways, they both use mission statements to support their actions and define their purpose. Looking through the statements of nonprofit organizations and other churches will help you to best formulate your own statement to best suit your needs as a church.
Church Planting Principle #5: Focus on your supporters.
This church planting principle is all about finding balance between recruitment and relationships. Planting a church means finding members to fill that church, but be careful not to abandon the members who have already joined.
In a post by Christianity Today, Aaron Damiani says, “Jesus builds his church, so stop watching the door and start feeding your people.” Turning your focus from recruitment to focus on those you have already recruited can be a challenge for many, but nurturing relationships is just as important as building new ones in the church planting process.
Instead of focusing on who didn’t attend church one Sunday or why certain groups of people don’t seem to show up, focus your energy on those who do attend.
Some ways you can nurture these relationships include:
- Asking for their help. We already covered earlier how difficult it can be to ask for help, however, making the request can make your members and attendees feel more involved and valued in the church planting process. You can ask for gifts, volunteer time, or prayers that your members can lift in your support.
- Lifting up prayer concerns. In addition to asking your church members to help you, make sure you offer yourself as help for them. One of the best ways to do this is to offer a place where members can send in prayer requests for specific needs. Whether it’s a sick family member or anxiety about an upcoming event, show your members you’re there to help.
- Creating opportunities. Creating opportunities for your church members is another way to get them more involved with your church. Create opportunities such as Sunday school classes, prayer groups, ministry teams, and any others you think of to hold their engagement.
Building your church from the inside will only strengthen your foundation. Not only that, but this is also probably where you will find the source of the majority of financial contributions to your church. Therefore, your organization will improve both structurally and financially by focusing on your current supporters.
Church Planting Principle #6: Develop your network.
Developing your church network is the flip side to focusing on your current supporters. The balance between the two principles is so important to strike because you need to grow your congregation in order to help the church survive without sacrificing the quality of your services.
Planting your church and helping it grow requires an active church network developing from both you and your supporters. In addition to traditional word-of-mouth networking, some of the top contemporary methods to spread the word include:
- Peer-to-peer fundraising. If you need both money and network development, this fundraising opportunity is perfect. Ask your current supporters to create fundraising pages on your behalf to spread among their online network. This way, you are reaching out to their networks and familiarizing them with your church while raising money simultaneously.
- Church crowdfunding. Crowdfunding for your church helps you use your personal online network to collect small gifts from a wide audience. These funds add up over time and, again, familiarize your online network with the church’s mission. Plus, added incentives for tithing, such as a custom t-shirt, can help bring people together even more.
- Active social media. Creating an active social media account for your church is a must in today’s world. Try posting a regular Bible verse update or photos of ongoing church construction. Also include social media buttons on contribution pages so your supporters can show off their charitable giving on their own social media networks.
- Invitations. Personal invitations are crucial for recruiting new church members. For example, if someone gives to your cause, but has not come to a service yet, you may send them a personalized invitation to your next worship service.
Focusing on your supporters and developing your network go hand-in-hand because of the role your current members can play in developing your network. If they feel strongly about your church’s mission, they will be more likely to encourage the participation of others through online networking and personal invitation efforts.
Church Planting Principle #7: Don’t get discouraged.
There are a lot of moving pieces involved with church planting. It can be easy to get discouraged, especially by large projects.
One of the biggest projects you will undergo is building a worship space. This may mean building a sanctuary from the ground up or renovating an existing building. Either way, it’s a challenge (and an expensive one!)
The best way to overcome this discouragement is through:
- Planning. Extensive planning will help you to fund your major projects. For major projects, conduct prospect research to find major donors to build your new worship space. Maybe you’ll even end up with some new members!
- Trust. Trust that the Lord will provide for you. While you create your plans, trust that He will carry out His own. Even if things don’t go your way, know that there is a greater plan in place. Adjust, and keep moving forward.
- Prayer. Here’s a throwback from principle #1! Stay in constant prayer about the things that worry you. Ask for the things you need and the Lord will provide. You’re in good hands with Him.
It’s likely that you’ll begin to feel a bit discouraged at one point or another in the process of planting your church. Just don’t let it get you down! If you keep on pushing through with faith and trust and adjust your plans as necessary, you’ll find a way through.
Church Planting Principle #8: Remain flexible.
One of the key steps in how to plant a church is planning. You need to make plans for collecting contributions, plans for building a sanctuary, membership engagement plans, plans to expand your network, etc. However, along with creating all of these plans, you need to be prepared for each of them to fail.
Everyone hopes for as few hiccups in your plans as possible when planting a church; we want everything to run as smooth as butter. But chances are you’ll run into at least one problem. This is when it is important to remain flexible. When things go wrong, you need to have the ability to readjust and keep on moving forward.
A couple strategies to keep in mind in order to remain flexible include:
- Admit to mistakes or shortcomings.
- Always trust that God is in control.
- Keep in mind a plan B (then be ready for that to fail too).
- Remain open-minded and resilient.
Only God knows what the future holds. When you’re planting His church, trust that He will guide you.
“And he said to them, ‘Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'” Mark 16:15.
Church planting is an exciting and moving experience. With these 8 key principles, you’ll be ready to proclaim the word of God far and wide through your new church. For more helpful information about churches, check out these resources below:
- 85+ Top Church Fundraising Ideas. Are you looking for unique ways to raise money for your church? Within this list of top fundraising ideas from Snowball, you’ll find the perfect solution for your fundraising needs.
- Top 11 Church Giving and Donation Tools. Collecting donations and tithes from your congregation can be easy! Check out Double the Donation’s top picks for church giving and donation tools.
- Church Management: 45+ Simple (And Effective) Tips. Snowball’s tips for managing your church will help take your church to the next level. Read through these 45+ tips to see how!