I have a friend who has started a new church. He suggested I write a post listing some lessons I’ve learned from helping start New Vintage Church in Escondido. It’s been an awesome journey, and if what we’ve picked up along the way can help others involved in the noble vision of church multiplication, I’d love to help.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 things I’ve learned while starting a new church. I put these out there with the caveat that starting new churches if far more art than science. What worked for us may not work for you, and what didn’t work for us may work swimmingly for you.
With that said:
1. You cannot plan for it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m saying you can’t.
Despite all the emphasis on strategy that has dominated the church planting sphere for the last several years (not a bad thing), even our best laid plans will be turned over. It’s less like following a strategic plan and more like following the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness day by day.
Whatever you’ve planned should be viewed as a game plan, not a blueprint.
2. Resourcefulness is the most valuable gift a church planter possesses.
I’m not talking here about spiritual gifts. I’m talking about skill sets.
People who get upset when something off the script happens will neither enjoy nor be effective at starting new churches. Much of what keeps a church going through its awkward beginnings isn’t just the enthusiasm of the church at beginning a new thing—it’s the God-given ability of the pastor to morph into McGyver—making something serviceable out of scraps when resources are extremely scarce.
3. Faith can not only move mountains, it can keep churches afloat.
There will come a time in the life of any new church (and its planter) when things will be brought to the brink. There may be several such occasions in just the first year or two.
The test of whether or not one is called to do this will come, not in labs, but in the trenches of red ink, disgruntled people and discouraged staff. Staying the course because you have faith that God is going to bring a new day to the church—and doing it over and over again—is what will keep the church afloat when the spirit of the people (sometimes, including your own and those of your family) are sinking.