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7 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a New Ministry

Earlier, I shared ten things we’ve learned in planting and hope to practice in our second plant.  Today, I want to share seven mistakes that we made and hope to avoid the second time around.

1. Hiring people too fast.   We grew pretty quickly during our first year, and we defaulted to hiring staff instead of developing volunteers.  While your church does need an intentional staffing strategy, I didn’t spend enough time developing volunteers to lead ministry.  Hiring people is great, but I let it become the easy way out, and it hurt us in some cases.

2. Launching things too soon.  Growth can trick you into thinking this way, but I didn’t stick to my guns about starting new things.  I think we launched groups and student ministry too soon.  We started some programs and ministries that worked well when we were small and nimble but were not sustainable as we got larger.

3. Trying to be cool for the sake of being cool.
  In retrospect, I chose a few series and advertising campaigns that got people to church but created controversy for the sake of controversy.  There’s nothing wrong with being cool, but trying to be cool isn’t cool.

4.  Arguing with critics.
  Early on, I engaged with too many critics.  Whether on a now-defunct local message board or bloggers who were picking apart sermons, I should have kept my mouth shut and let God be my defender.  I’m proud to say that I do a better job of this now and don’t care at all what angry, anonymous people on message boards have to say.

5.  Not involving my wife as much as I could have.
  I let having two young kids at home keep my wife out of some things, and this was a mistake.  If you’re a church planter with children, I recommend that you figure out how to pay for a babysitter so your wife can participate in some meetings and conversations.  Not only will she help, she will feel more included.

6. Basing financial decisions off poorly-researched projections.
  When we renovated and moved into the House of Rock, I didn’t do enough homework on how much renovations would truly cost.  We had to go back to our people and tweak our fund raising campaigns, and that’s never good.  It’s better to take the time and spend some money in order to get accurate financial projections and timetables.

7.  Not working with other local churches as much as we could have. 
We have a bit of a reputation for being a rogue, and this is not always a good thing.  I really do like and appreciate other churches in our area, but I wasn’t intentional enough in communicating that early on.

These are just some of the mistakes we made and things I’ll try to avoid the next time around.  Feel free to leave a comment.  

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After two decades as a student pastor, church planter, senior pastor and leadership consultant, Michael Lukaszewski now leads the team at Church Fuel, an organization dedicated to providing insanely practical resources to pastors. He and his wife have three children and live in the Atlanta area. Learn more at churchfuel.com.