Every Church Planter Needs: A Coach

Part 3 of a 3 part series on the people that every church planter needs


Ever since we planted CityView Church in 2014 we’ve gotten multiple questions about what church planters need.  Aside from a strong and growing relationship with Jesus, the support of their spouse, Kingdom dollars invested in their plant or team members to join their core team, I always tell them that every planter needs three people who speak into their lives that help them plant in a healthy manner.  Every planter needs 3 specific people.  This blog series will share the three people that every church planter needs in his life.


Every church planter needs a coach.  It is easy for church planters to get bogged down in minutia of church life and church planting issues.  The coach cheers the planter on and pushes him when he isn’t accomplishing all that he could.  The coach is someone that the planter should pay for his time.  I have paid as little as $100/month, but am currently receiving coaching for $250/month.  My first coach was Sam Douglass.  I am currently coached by Brian Howard

Every church planter needs someone to get in their face a little when they aren’t doing what they should.  They also need someone outside of the situation to point out issues in what is going on within the church.  The coach can do this important work.

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Greatest Value

The most valuable thing a coach can do is drill down deep on a single issue that the planter is having, ask questions, and cause the planter to process through the issue out loud with someone else.  The coach can ask questions with little knowledge of the situation and bring in a different perspective to help the planter correct his actions.


How Do I Find One?

Your denomination or network should have some sort of coaching network setup or be able to point you in the right direction.  Contact the church plant leadership in your network or denomination and they’ll help you find a good one.  If worse comes to worse, I coach planters regularly to help them work through the early days of planting and thinking through how they can multiply.  I’d be happy to help, you can contact me here.


This series is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).



Plant Churches Like Gerbils!

The Mindset We Need to Proliferate the Gospel in Church Planting


When I was a teenager my brother got two albino gerbils.  If you aren’t familiar with this type of gerbil, they look a little like cute demons.  They have white fur (the cute part) and red eyes (the demon part).  We got the rodents from a family friend.  We were assured that they were both females, after all we didn’t want any baby gerbils rolling around.  They got a cage with a tube, a wheel, and a ball for the gerbils to go in when my brother wanted to have them outside of the cage.  They were cute and fun animals.  I’m not a big pet person, but I even enjoyed petting them, playing with them and watching them run around our house in their ball.

Then we noticed one day that one of the gerbils was getting fat.  That gerbil had eaten a whole lot more than normal, but we didn’t think anything of it.  After all they were both females.  A couple of weeks later there were 3 more little gerbils in that cage.  We separated the biggest gerbils because obviously one of those gerbils WAS NOT a female.  We also had to buy another cage.  The gerbils got a little bigger.  They were still cute and still fun to play with.  As the baby gerbils grew we began to wonder what gender they were.  However, by the time we were wondering it was too late… MORE BABY GERBILS!

I don’t remember exactly why, but my family decided to keep them all at first.  This lead to more cages. Eventually these cages were hooked together with plastic tubes until we had an entire gerbil city in our computer room.  What began as two cute, although mildly freaky looking animals rapidly grew into a whole colony of gerbils.

Gerbils Proliferate

Gerbils are small, simple creatures but they multiply rapidly.  To use a different word, they proliferate and with a gestation period of around 16 days, they proliferate quickly!

The word proliferate means, “to increase rapidly in numbers; to multiply”.  Gerbils proliferate and so should churches. That is the idea behind my new book, Proliferate: to give small, what I call, Everyday Churches a strategy for being involved in church planting and multiplication.


The Problem: A Unhealthy Gerbil Mindset

Everyday Churches are kind of like gerbils.  They’re small.  They lack in strength when it comes to numbers.  They are mostly cute, but have some freakish elements to them.  Perhaps you’ve been to a Baptist business meeting?  A church that is only thinking on these internal issues has a toxic gerbil mindset.

Sadly, these churches don’t know how to be involved in multiplication and worse they often feel like they can’t be involved in multiplication simply because of their perceived weakness in terms of attendance and budget numbers.  This mindset weakens multiplication efforts and hinders local, national, and worldwide gospel saturation.

According to Leadership Network 88% of churches in America run under 200 people in attendance [1]. If these congregations aren’t involved in multiplication, then the clear majority of churches aren’t getting involved in this effective means of evangelism.  Without these churches mobilizing in this effort many people and areas will be lacking gospel witness.


The Solution: A Healthy Gerbil Mindset

There is a healthy gerbil mindset.  These little creatures also possess the aforementioned ability to proliferate quickly.  This rapid reproduction happens not in spite of their size, but rather, because of their size.  Recently I heard Bob Roberts Jr. speak at a conference.  Bob is the pastor of Northwood Church, a notable church multiplying church in the Dallas Metroplex.  At the conference he said, “Only small churches have the ability to multiply effectively”.  He went on to explain that large churches struggle to multiply because they spend so much money trying to duplicate exactly what they are doing.  Healthy small churches understand what is necessary for a church to function and what isn’t necessary.

In Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches I make the argument that all churches should be involved in church multiplication in some way, manner, fashion, or form.  This isn’t to say that all churches should be involved in multiplication in the same way, but they all need to be involved in the proliferation of gospel-centered churches both nationally and internationally.  Whether that means reproducing themselves or helping other congregations to start, all churches should be involved in church multiplication.




These are ideas that I share in my new book Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  It is available in both Kindle and Paperback formats at Amazon.


[1] George, Carl F.; Bird, Warren (2017-04-04). How to Break Growth Barriers: Revise Your Role, Release Your People, and Capture Overlooked Opportunities for Your Church (Kindle Locations 1901-1905). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

Everyday Pastors Get Discouraged

5 Techniques to Deal with Discouragement


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m discouraged.  An initiative doesn’t go well.  Someone devastates you to your core with a few words.  A leader needs to be relocated for his/her job.  It happens ALL THE TIME in ministry.

We know the right answers:

  • This too will pass.
  • All things work together for good.
  • It must not have been God’s will.

However, knowing the right answers doesn’t make me feel better about it right now.  It doesn’t help me see it clearly right now.  Here are 5 techniques I’ve learned over my ministry that have helped me deal with those days (sometimes weeks, sometimes months) of discouragement.

1) Read your bible and write in a journal

When discouraged we are frequently driven from the Word.  Either there is some underlying resentment at God for allowing things to go badly or there is shame for something you’ve done or there is just a lax attitude towards the Scripture.  I’ve been there in all of those instances.  There is nothing that I’ve found more helpful though, when I can get over myself, than sitting and reading some Scripture. Dealing with leadership issues? Go read Nehemiah.  If the problem is hurt then go read the Psalms.  If you are aching over someone not responding to the gospel go read the gospels.  The Scripture is sufficient for us.  Write down what you read.  Recognize how it applies to you.

2) Pray and get others praying for you too

This is a natural outflow for me. After I read the bible and journal I want to pray.  I may still be upset (usually am).  Frustration is still present, but at least now I’m directed to the One who can help, bring encouragement and work with me (and on me) in my hurt.

I also have a trusted list of men that I go to with hurts.  I can text about 10-15 guys and I know they are praying for me right then.  Details aren’t necessary.  Just a simple, “I’m dealing with some discouragement today.  I can’t share a lot of detail, but I’d appreciate your prayer support today.”  They are faithful men and friends.  I’ve also found that just their simple reply back of, “gotcha covered man” or “on it!” brings a great deal of encouragement in knowing that I’m not alone and I’m not isolated.

3) Exercise

GO RUN!  LIFT WEIGHTS! DO SOME CARDIO!  Get off your butt and get your heart pumping and blood flowing in something physically productive.  There is a definite correlation to discouragement and depression and a lack of physical activity.  Get up and get going.

4) Talk to a friend

Ministry can be lonely.  It can be painful.  Find a friend, usually someone outside of your ministry situation, that you can talk openly with.  I was reminded today by one of these friends that discussing frustrations with trusted friends, without gossiping, helps you see different perspectives.  Be open to your friend to comfort you and call you out when you might have a blindspot in a specific area.

5) See a counselor

There is such a negative stigma about pastors seeing counselors.  That is just dumb!  I see one regularly (usually monthly).  I pay for this service.  My counselor is a biblical counselor and he listens and points me to Scripture and the gospel.  Friends can fill this role on occasion, but someone who has regular experience is invaluable.



Destination, Road, and Vehicle

3 Part Paradigm to Think Through Church Planting Plan Development



When I push my kids out the door they always have three questions: Where are we going? What’s the route we’re taking? Which car are we taking?  These are the same questions potential core team members will ask when they are considering joining a church plant.  They might not ask it just like that, but they all want to know: where they’re going, how they’re getting there, and what’s the strategy we’re using to get there.

These are three questions that church planters have to be able to answer as they prepare to plant a church.  Potential partner churches want to know, potential core team members are interested, and other church planting agencies require these three things to be in place before they will financially support the planter.


1) Vision – Where are we going?

The vision has to be clear.  I like the metaphor of the destination because when I share with my kids that we are going to Grandma’s house they know exactly what that means.  The destination is clear.  Is your vision clear?   So clear that when you say it people understand it?  If you can’t share your vision and explain it in less than 3 minutes then you have some work to do.  If you’ve never thought about vision to this level of clarity I HIGHLY recommend Church Unique by Will Mancini.


2) Values – What route are we taking?

If the vision is the destination then the values are the route you’re taking.  This is the way you’re getting there.  Your values are things that matter deeply to you and your church.  This isn’t your statement of beliefs or doctrinal statement.  They should be derived from belief, but this is specific as to how you want to function.  For instance, one of our core values at CityView Church is to love people far from God.  Obviously, this is rooted in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, but this is how we are choosing to think about it.

I recommend no more than 6 values.  The best number is probably 3 or 4 values.  A good resource on this subject, although it isn’t strictly a Christian book, is The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.



3) Strategy – What vehicle are we taking?

If vision is the destination and values are the route, then strategy is the vehicle that you’re taking to get there.  Strategy is the simple way you are planning to accomplish the vision.  Many times these are the core programs you will use to accomplish the vision.  For us it is our weekend worship service, life groups, and dna groups.  These programs make up our discipleship process.  Our strategy operates within the confines of our values and moves us towards our vision.  Church Unique is helpful on this strategy development process as well.



3 Things you MUST Do Before You Plant A Church


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.

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Prepare to Launch: 5 Stages of Development for Church Plants before Public Launch

Prepare to Launch

CityView Church, the church I get to lead, just celebrated 3 years from public launch.  We’ve been unbelievably blessed to get off to a great start.  In 3 short years God has done some amazing things.

  • Numerical growth.  We aren’t giant, but we are growing steadily every year.
  • We’ve purchased land.  Not a lot, 5 acres is all, but it’s all we need.
  • We’ve sent three other churches.  We’ve trained three planters and sent them out to start new churches.
  • We are financially self-sufficient.  Our budget isn’t multi-million… or even a million, but we aren’t dependent on outside giving.

We’ve come a long way by God’s grace.  Recently, I was asked to outline the process that we followed before we launched.  Over the next few weeks I’ll address each of these stages in more depth, but here are the 5 Stages of Development.


1) Meditation on the Gospel and Prayer

One of the biggest problems that I’ve seen in church planting is that guys get frustrated with their church and go out and plant the opposite of their church.  The problem is that this is the wrong motivation.

Can God use wrong motivations? Yes!

Is that the most God glorifying way to do it? No!

Frustration can be an indicator that it might be time to move on or seek a healthier church environment, but it isn’t a reason to start a new church.  The desire to start a new church has to be founded in the gospel.  It has to be firmly founded in the desire to make and multiply disciples.  Meditate on the gospel.  Read through Acts.  Pray.  For more check out this post.

2) Vision and Plan Development

Spend some time praying about a vision.  Think about where God might lead you.  If you are looking for a book to help with this, I suggest Church Unique by Will Mancini.  This is the best book on vision development for a church that I have ever seen.  It is hard work, but it is worth it.

3) Fundraising

There is no getting around it.  Fundraising is important for church planting.  God’s mission happens through the generosity of God’s people.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  I will be writing extensively on this area.  If you have any specific questions please put them in the comments below.  I’ll work to help answer all of those questions.

4) Core Group Gathering

You’ve got to gather a group to follow and be part of what God is doing.  Seek out people who want to see God do something, people who love the gospel.

5) Core Group Development

Take this ever growing group and develop them.  Teach them the vision and values of the church.  Tie everything to the gospel.  Develop and disciple people.



What questions do you have about church plant development before launch?  Are you a planter?  What questions do you have about the development of a church plant?




Goals Need to be RELEVANT

Tips to help make your goals relevant


You may want to watch every new movie on Netflix, but unless you are a internet TV blogger it isn’t relevant to your personal growth.  Your goals need to be relevant to who you want to be over a lifetime.

You need to have goals that are relevant to your station in life and your own growth. When you write a goal it needs to be relevant to some greater purpose that you have. It has to have meaning behind it.  The goal needs to hold meaning for you.  When a goal is relevant then you have motivation to keep pushing towards it when the excitement has worn off.  I love this quote by Viktor Frankl

“Those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how’.

Tips to help you clarify

  • Where do you want to be in 10 years? 5 years? 3 years?  Does the goal help you get there?
  • Why is this goal important to you?   Should it be?
  • What are the benefits of this goal for your long term growth and development.


Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.


Goals Need to be TIME BOUND

Tips to make your goals time bound


Goals have to have a definite starting point and ending point.  I work really well with a deadline.  I want to know when something needs to be completed.  Time matters when it comes to writing goals.  Most of the goals I’ve talked about are annual.  They could all have an end date of 12/31 or if you are following the way I do my goals then 1/31.  Time bound is essential for working through the progressive necessity of goals.  You may want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, but you aren’t going to come to December 30th and see how you’re doing on your weight loss goal.  Set monthly and weekly time bound sub goals that help you attain your goal progressively.


Tips to help you clarify

  • Is your goal an annual goal?  Should it be a 2 year goal or longer?
  • What are some milestones associated with your goal?
  • How can you break it up into quarterly, monthly or weekly chunks?

Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.


Goals Need to be MEASURABLE

Tips to help make your goals measurable


A couple years ago I wanted to improve my physical endurance.  I set the goal of completing a marathon which means moving forward for 26.2 miles over the course of hours.  It was easy to see during training runs that I was going further.  Each month I could see progress towards the measurable goal of 26.2.Your goals need to be measurable.  You need to be able to know when you’ve achieved the goal.  You need to be able to see progress and movement forward towards the goal.  This aspect goes hand-in-hand with specific.  Specific focus helps define the measurable aspect of the goal.  When annual goals are measurable it aids in the process of setting monthly goals that help achieve it.


Tips to help you clarify

  • What number can be associated with the goal?  Maybe it is a distance you want to be able to run or an amount you want to put in your retirement account.
  • Is it possible to see progress towards your goal?   Where do you want to be in April? July? November?
  • If you are having trouble coming up with a measure you may need to make your goal more narrow and specific.


Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.


Goals Need to be SPECIFIC

Tips to help make your goals specific


Goals needs to be specific.  The destination needs to be obvious.  Your goal needs to have a very clear target.  Words like “more” and “less” are off limits when writing a goal. Ideas like “do better” or “weigh less” are also strictly prohibited.  Vague is the enemy of accomplishing goals.  You’ve got to know what you want to accomplish…exactly.

Do’s and Don’ts of Specific

  • Don’t say, “save more”. Do say, “save $1000.”
  • Don’t say,  “lose weight”. Do say, “lose 10lbs.”
  • Don’t say, “get better at returning emails”. Do say, “set a reminder to check and respond to emails at 5pm.”
  • Don’t say, “have more blog followers”.  Do say, “have 1000 new blog followers”.

The more specific you can get the better.  Specificity brings definition to the goal.

Tips to help you clarify

  • What EXACTLY do you want to accomplish this year?
  • Where do you want to go EXACTLY?
  • Ask a friend, mentor, or coach and see if they understand your goal.  Is it obvious to them what you are trying to accomplish?



Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.