I’ve been a church replanter for over four years…before it became trendy. Not that I think I’ve figured it all out, but we’ve seen some success as a replant, and there are a few keys I’ve learned through the years…
- Assess and communicate the reality of the desperation of the situation.
Gather as much data as possible about the church and the demography of the community. Clarify that the church is dead, if, indeed, it is. Put the data in a well-packaged graph. Keynote is a great way to do this.
One random example of this is that our church had 91 toilets, and 120 regular attendees. I communicated that the church had shrunk so much that nearly everyone had their own toilet. This may make you chuckle, but it communicates the point very poignantly.
- Go through the process of officially replanting.
Study the church’s constitution and bylaws, and know them better than anyone ever has. Know what you have to do to replant the church. See who needs to vote on what (if anything at all, depending on your church government).
- Completely shut down the old church.
When I say “shut down,” I mean you actually shut it down. If you’re staying in the same location, you should have at least one Sunday off between the last day of the old church and the launch of the new church. Put yellow tape up around the church to communicate to the public and the church family that the old church is closed.
Take down anything that refers to the old church. This is where things are way different from a revitalization. You are, indeed, getting rid of all of the old stuff as you start over as a new church. You are not the old church. You are a brand new church plant. If this isn’t clear, go the route of a revitalization project instead of going all in with the replant.
- Make people join the new church and go through the new members’ class.
This is more key than I ever knew before replanting a church. I made the core group from the old church join the new church and go through the new members’ class. This makes it clear that if they want to be a member of this new work, then they must go through the process that everyone else experiences.
- Change the name, signage, and constitution and bylaws of the church.
You can’t replant a church while having the old church’s name, signage and legal documents. Start it all over from scratch. Change the sign before you start the new church. Whether you like it or not, people associate the name and the signage as the identity of the church.
For the constitution and bylaws, most churches, including mine, do a DBA (doing business as) to rename the congregation since you’re likely already incorporated. I learned that The Village Church (led by Pastor Matt Chandler) did the same thing.
This is not exhaustive, but these five keys will move you a long way to progressing as a successful replant. Have any additional replanting tips?