You’re not a church….yet (part 1 of 2)

You’re not a church….yet (part 1 of 2)

Posted on 15. Feb, 2011 by in Church Planter University, Launch

What do you call yourself before you have your public launch? There’s a temptation to use the word “church” too soon. The problem with the word “church” is that it carries with it expectations that you can’t meet. When people think of a church, they think of things like:

  • worship music/leader
  • full band
  • nursery
  • kid’s church
  • youth group
  • women’s/men’s ministry
  • meeting Sunday morning between 9-11am
  • consistent public meeting location
  • leadership structure

When you’re at the core group stage, you can’t possibly offer any of the things that people think of when they hear the word “church”. I have seen several church planters do a public launch before they were ready and able to sustain it. What happens is they start calling themselves a church and unknowingly create expectations they can’t meet. When you fail to meet expectations, people don’t stick around. This makes it very difficult to build a core group/launch team.

Here’s how it happens.  Let’s say the name of the church plant is going to be “Pathways Church”. When the planter is out trying to gather and form a “core group” they tell people about the church they are wanting to plant. They invite people to come to an informational meeting. Once the core group forms, they make the mistake of calling their group by the future church’s name.

They start sending out emails and writing blogs talking about what happened at the last meeting of “Pathways Church”. They start inviting people to what is a “core group” gathering, but end up saying, “Hey, I’m the pastor of Pathways Church. We’re meeting at my house this weekend, do you want to come?”

In doing this, they’ve unintentionally misled the person they are inviting. Pathways isn’t a church yet. It’s a core group. It’s a launch team. It’s a Pre-Church. Call it anything but a church!!!

If you call it a church, you’ll find that the people you invite will start saying things like, “Let me know when you start having Sunday services and I’ll come.” You told them you were a church so naturally they’re expecting you to be a church with music, child care, the works. What often happens is the planter continues to struggle to generate a critical mass in their core group and thinks, “I need to do a public launch so all the people I’ve been inviting will come.” They do it, and it kills the plant before it had a chance. Most of the time, you only get one shot at a public launch. If it fails to make it, the core group gets discouraged and starts to drop out.

So if you’re not a church yet, what are you? We’ll discuss that tomorrow.

Related posts:

  1. You’re not a church….yet (part 2 of 2)
  2. Networking wih Austin Porter
  3. Is Church Planting for Me?
  4. Tools for the Missional Church
  5. location, location, location

Leave a reply