Launching with the right focus is essential if your plant is going to avoid defaulting into just another big church after you’ve grown. If you’re using the New Testament apostolic model, then the solution is hard-wired into your church already. You’re not wired to grow big, but to reproduce. As soon as the tender shoots begin to grow, you’ll be splicing them to ready them for transplants. Outgrowing your building means that you’ve got to start assembling some new teams for planting outwards.
Multiple services, outlying campuses, and other forms of ecclesiastical greed will make you want to vomit instead of causing you to salivate as you indulge your insatiable appetite for more. Getting your priorities right from the start involves setting a missional agenda that seeks to grow the church outward, rather than just upwards. It also details how to ensure that you’re starting by reaching the lost, rather than just attracting disillusioned Christians from other churches.
But starting out well isn’t a guarantee that all will end well. It is possible to start out a champion like Gideon earning the moniker of “Baal-slayer”, only to end up establishing your own form of idolatry in its place as people bow down to your sacred ephod. If people worshipped Gideon’s armor, rest assured that they will find ways to worship your success too… If you let them. The masses will flock to you and burst the fire capacity of your four walls, but at that juncture, you have a choice. If I had my way, most of you reading this would constantly be shedding the ephod like David, finding Saul’s megachurch armor too big and cumbersome. Instead, you’d be opting for a sling-shot, greater mobility, guerilla tactics, the Spirit’s power, and enough confidence in the Almighty to keep running at giants.
The world has had enough of churches that are out for themselves. Young people have already made up their minds that churches are no longer about people, but about the institution. They cynically analyze the million dollar money making machine from a distance and conclude that the church is out for itself. Their number one question is “Are you for me, against me, or for yourself?” In the end, a mission statement will help you safeguard that the church doesn’t become about “itself” as an institution, merely adding more programs to keep the machine running and the people happy. After all, if you don’t keep the people happy they’ll leave, right? Any church planter worth his salt always wants people to leave his church; either to plant more churches, or to stop distracting the rest of them from the mission. You know what the difference between a church plant of 50 people and an established church of 1000 people? The answer is 950 people. It’s up to you to make sure that your church has more to say when it gives that answer. There should be more difference between a church plant and an established church than numbers. It’s an issue of DNA, not size.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.