If you’re considering planting a new church or prayer group, gaining and maintaining the support of a core group of like-minded people will be very important.
My wife and I participated in a church plant some years ago that began in our own home with five like-minded couples having differing complimentary gifts. In hindsight, we now see how important it was to serve as one another’s helpmates as we blended our individual gifts, sharing the burdens of discouragement and challenges while we encouraged and prayed for one another.
Today, that small group has grown and multiplied many times into a thriving Community Church, and through every congregational and facility expansion, maintained that commitment to first fostering a “core group” as the basis for Ministry and Outreach.
Don’t be afraid to lean on your own core group for support. Here are some ways your members can support your mission.
Church planters can always benefit from financial support. You are just starting a new ministry and are likely doing it with limited funds.
Increasing giving is a challenge that all churches face throughout their ministry. With a church plant, it can feel especially overwhelming because the need is so great, and the congregation is usually small. Know that it is fine to start out small. As your new church grows, God will provide the needed support.
If any members are feeling particularly called to financially support your church plant, ask if they would consider contributing on a regular basis. Ongoing support is key. Let them know that any amount will truly help.
Money is not the only resource that can benefit church planters. Instead of asking for cash, request donations of supplies like chairs, instruments, books, sound equipment, monitors, and anything else you need for your worship service.
If you’re hosting a charity event, don’t be afraid to ask the community outside your church plant, including non-believers, for donations. This is a great way to introduce your mission to the community and attract new members.
Some of the best things in life are non-material. Anything your members can do to encourage you in your mission goes a long way. This could be something as simple as a kind word, or a reminder of how important your work is. When you’re feeling discouraged or having a lack of motivation, turn to your congregation to lift you up.
Time and Talents
Your members have a variety of talents that can serve the church plant. Reach out and ask them for help in day-to-day tasks. Here are some ideas to get you started:
● Do you have any certified public accountants or financial planners in your congregation? Ask them for help with financial matters.
● You likely have a lot of members who are savvy with social media. Ask for volunteers to set up and run social media accounts for the church plant.
● Someone with web development experience can set up a website for the church plant.
● Seek out members who have experience with audio and visual equipment, or a musical background, to help with the worship music.
Even those who don’t have a particular skill can still serve by offering their time or resources. Ask your members to help organize and run events. If you currently meet in a member’s home, see if other members would be willing to open up their homes as well so you can rotate.
Is there anyone in the area who has experience with church planting? Seek out their guidance. Mentorship is one of the most powerful tools for growth. Whenever you are stuck, a good mentor will have a wealth of ideas to offer, including growth strategies that work. They will have advice for every stage of the journey and can help you navigate the ups and downs.
Although you may initially take charge as the sole leader of your church plant, you are going to need some helpers eventually. Ask your members to discern whether they are being called to assist you as leaders in the new church. It will take a great load off of you to have someone to lean on, advise you in decisions, and take a share of the responsibilities.
Each leader could take charge of a different part of the ministry, like youth ministry, outreach ministry, service to the elderly, and more.
One of the most valuable things members have to offer is creativity. Ask them to share ideas for outreach, community involvement, strategy, and growth. You could hold regular brainstorming meetings to generate ideas. Be open to hearing what each person has to say. You never know when an idea will work out better than anyone expected.
The most important work your members can help you with is the work of evangelization. They each know someone in the community, and through these connections, they’ll be able to spread your message to non-believers. Remember that Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to evangelize. Your work is not meant to be completed in isolation!
Before you plant your church, be sure to consider all these factors. Once you’ve launched, don’t be afraid to lean on your members. A church is a community, and it is right to share in the responsibilities.
About the Author:
Dr. Tom McElheny has served as an Elder and director of Christian education for three Sarasota, Florida churches, holds advanced degrees in business and education and is CEO of his company ChurchPlaza.com.