Our Church, CityView, launched on February 9, 2014. It was a GREAT day. 140 People gathered to worship God in an elementary school gym. That day was the public beginning of our church, but it was far from the actual beginning. It didn’t start in September 2013 when we were commissioned by our sending church. CityView didn’t begin in May 2013 when we announced our plan to go plant the church. We didn’t start when the first families were recruited. CityView started in November 2012 when Travis Duke and I prepared spiritually for what God might be calling us to do. Here’s what we did and what I think every church planter MUST do before they go plant a church.
1) You Must Pray
I am constantly amazed at how prayer is neglected when preparing to plant a church. Prospective church planters frequently get excited about possibilities of what they might be able to do if they were just unshackled from their current church (note my sarcastic tone) or they just want to get to winning people to Jesus, a truly noble reason to plant or any reason in between. Regardless of what is causing you to want to plant, you MUST spend significant time in prayer.
Travis and I took 6 weeks where we prayed everyday. I kept a journal and asked mentors, family members and friends to pray for me. If you are going to plant a church, you need to know that God is calling you to do it. It really is that simple. This 6 weeks of prayer has been a significant source of encouragement for me on a mission that is filled with discouraging moments. We share about this story in my book Proliferate: A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.
2) You Must Meditate on the Gospel
Meditating on the gospel: the person and work of Jesus is essential. Why are we going to plant a church? Is it to just be a reaction against the more traditional church we came from? NO! That is a ridiculous reason to plant a church. Don’t plant a church from a place of reaction or anger. Plant a church out of a deep love for the Gospel. Start a church out of what that Good News says about mankind. Plant a church for the glory of God.
3) You Must Learn EVERYTHING you can
If you are feeling the call to plant a church you cannot read too much about it. Devour everything you can. Read widely within your personal tribe (Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Non-Denominational…which is really a denomination, isn’t it?). Read widely OUTSIDE of your tribe. Just because you may not like a guy’s theological bent doesn’t mean you can’t glean something from him. Listen to podcasts, go to conferences, take it all in as you ready yourself for this journey. I read over 56 books on church planting and listened to countless sermons, podcasts, and trainings before we started formulating our prospectus. You don’t have to do everything everyone recommends, but you can find bits that help you see what God might be calling you to do.