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View Chapter 9 - Fruit

Church Planting Resource Manual

Download MS Word Document (2009):
File:Chapter 9 - Fruit 5-09.doc

Download Shorter PowerPoint (2011):
File:Keynote 9 Fruit 3-11.ppt


This article contains text only. For the full version with graphics and charts, please download the MS Word version above.

Fruit Development
Stage Four of the 4-Stage Launch
Launching the Church, Going Public and the Harvest

Theme: How to Launch as strong as possible. 
“To achieve high orbit, you need to have a good flight plan, a good crew, and good systems—and plan on expending a lot of fuel.”
When the season is right and the tree is healthy and ready – there is an explosion in the growth of the fruit!

Objective:  To learn how to be as Fruitful as a New Church.

Chapter Goals:
1. You will learn how to invite as many guests as possible.
2. You will learn how to make a lasting impression on them when they come.
3. You will be able to test fruitfulness in your new church.
4. You will learn how to follow-up on guests – assimilation and connection.
5. You will proclaim the Gospel through great preaching.
6. You will plan and schedule a fruitful 3-4 month Launch.

NOTE: the Growth-Marks document following the Note pages will be something your coach will use to help you move through this important stage.  The shaded area will be the section for you to concentrate on for this stage. 
Jesus said,
The harvest is plentiful
but the workers are few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers
into His harvest field.
Matthew 9:37-38

Checking for Growth/Health in the 1st Year of a New Church
First the seed, then the stalk, then the head, then the full-kernel of grain.  Mark 4:28

Just as the wise farmer evaluates the growth of the crop, so too the wise church planter evaluates progress of their new church at each stage. Just as the farmer makes adjustments at each stage, evaluating the need for hydration, fertilization, pesticide, pruning…

Or, to change the metaphor, just as the parent pays careful attention to how their child moves through the 1st 12 months of life to see not only growth in weight and height, and pays attention to how they’re developing mentally, emotionally, relationally, etc… and gets concerned if they don’t achieve certain growth-stages, so also…

The wise church planter looks at the growth & health of the church at each stage of development to determine what adjustments need to be made and to determine if they are ready to move to the next stage.

Check off the growth-marks as they are achieved.  When you have marked them all off, you are ready to move to the next stage.  If you have not achieved them, this indicates that you are missing a key growth element.  You should only move to the next stage with approval of your coach.  Consistently not meeting these marks is a real cause for concern and a time for deep discussion with your coach and possible adjustments…

Meet with your coach before moving to each new stage.

Root Development: Finding & Developing the Launch Team      Start date_________
Check when achieved:        (usually takes 3-4 months)
___ minimum of 20-30 committed adults in the core
___ 50% of core from new contacts
___ clear, compelling Passion, Values, and Mission – with the timeline and strategic plan
___ begin incorporation, financial system, enrollment in ECC pension, insurance, beginning ECC credentialing, enrolled in CEOP (if needed)
___ planter is seen as the ‘legitimate leader’ of the group
___ increasing number of people contacted, coming and connecting with the group
___ growing enthusiasm by the people
___ visits to church plants in area by Launch Team
___ vision deserts and/or gathering events
___ incarnational mission beginning in the community
___ begin taking an offering & sending 10 & 5 to ECC and conference mission
                        Achieved by________
  Each goal is important to accomplish before moving to the next stage!

Leaf Development: Preview (accelerated launch team development)    Start date_______
Check when achieved:          (usually takes 3-4 months)
___ minimum attendance of 70-100 in monthly preview services
___ 50 new people at each preview service (generally once-a-month)
___ plan for marketing for 3rd and 4th preview if you can’t get 50 new people by personal invitation
___ strong word-of-mouth with over ½ of new people coming from personal invitation
___ 50 new people assimilated into Launch Team over the 3-4 month time-frame
___ good facility, good financial record keeping, people beginning to tithe to new church
___ increasing attendance at each preview service
___ planning and recruiting people to serve in 5-key ministries of worship, kids, connection, small groups, outreach.
___ PAT (Pastors Advisory Team) functioning
___ people who are far from God coming to worship and/or being touched by the outreach of the church
                        Achieved by________
Each goal is important to accomplish before moving to the next stage!

Branch Development - Preparatory Worship     3-4 months       Start date_________
Check when achieved:
___ minimum attendance of 80 in the weekly services
___ quality of 5 key ministries (see previous stage for these 5) raised by one grade level (eg. C to B+) and increasing number of people serving in one of the ministry teams
___ 50% of adults in small groups
___ continuing outreach at this stage and planning for greater fruitfulness in next stage
___ continuing gathering and increasing attendance at worship
___ pray/plan for Grand Opening of Phase 4 with the G.O. (Grand Opening) Team
                        Achieved by________
  Each goal is important to accomplish before moving to the next stage!

Fruit Bearing – Launch stage     3-4 months         Start date_________
Check when achieved:
___ minimum attendance of 110 in services
___ great facility that can accommodate growth to 200+
___ have begun TLT: Transitional Leadership Team
___ beginning to see increasing numbers of people coming to Christ
___ keeping most of the launch team folks and transitioning into a G.O. team as you incorporate new people working toward the ideal mix after Launch phase of 1/3 new believers, 1/3 former de-churched Christians, 1/3 committed believers
___ beginning to plan for membership, etc.
See graphic on next page.

At the end of each stage, the wise church planter does two things:
1)  Evaluation with their coach and leaders of what went right, what needs to be improved, and what needs to be changed.
2)  Celebration with the people of what God has done thus far!  People will continue to support what they celebrate.  Share the credit and help people to see what God has done in just a few months!

NOTE: For more information, see ‘Fruit Development’ Goals, Activities, Benchmarks and Warning Signs + The Timeline at end of this chapter.
The Metaphor of Fruit Development:
The mechanism for reproduction of plants and trees is the development of fruit. The survival of the species is totally depending on its reproductive ability. In most cases, the precursors to fruit are flowers. The male and female parts of the flower combine to give birth to fruit, sometimes within the same flower itself or sometimes in conjunction with transporters such as bees, who pollinate the flower. The fruit byproduct also provides many pleasures and delights for both the gardener and the Creator.

Your Grand Opening

This is MORE than a single event: it is a Season of Growth and a Season of Harvest: Many of our new churches hold multiple ‘Grand Openings’ during the ‘Fruit Development’ stage. These are a series of Sunday services where the church goes ‘all out’ to both invite people to come and see, and while at the same time the church is going out to serve and love its community.  Often they continue the once-a-month special Sundays that provided an easy-invite to friends.  Use the TIME-LINE at the end of the chapter to plan out your schedule during the Launch Phase.

By this time, the primary ministries of the church should be firmly rooted, growing and bearing fruit. The Grand Opening stage marks the beginning of some of the most fruitful seasons of ministry for your church, seasons that continue for years, decades, centuries.

1.  In a new church, what does the fruit represent?
2.  What are the components of fruitfulness in ministry?
3.  How will your new church celebrate the many expressions of fruitfulness?

1. You will learn how to invite as many guests as possible.

In the Launch Stage, you will have your Grand Opening, and will be inviting lots of people to experience your new church as it gathers on Sunday.  You’ve been improving your 5 Core Ministries: Worship, Kids, Connection (Follow-up and Assimilation), Small Groups and Evangelism in Stage 3, now it’s time to “Go Public”

Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.  Luke 14:23
You will always reap what you sow.  Galatians 6:7

If you tell us how many you’ve invited, we can tell you how many will show up. 
If you invite few, not many will show up.  If you invite 50,000, many will attend.

Beyond your Launch Team and others that you’ve begun to touch, People in your city don’t know you Exist.  God loves them and He wants to use new churches like yours to reach them.  Remember 80% or more of the population in your area does not go to church.  Remember that most people will come to church if they are invited.

Use Multiple Touches for the People You will Invite:

-  Hot: Those you’re closest to
o   Print general business cards for everyone in the church to use
•  Your Launch Team members need help in talking about the church and about spiritual things with their friends.
o   Use Invite Cards for each new series
o   Find ways to encourage your Launch Team to hand them out
•  Use the P.I.E. method – Pray, Invite (using the card), Expect God to Work and Expect them to come
•  Get your people to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for their friends.

-  Warm: Those who are closest to you geographically or demographically.
o   Web-site – many will check this out first
o   Can you “drive” people to your web-site.  With a small add in a newspaper that many in your area read – and put a provocative statement that will cause people to go to your web-site for more information – something like “God, Sex, Love” or “The Gospel According to Napoleon Dynamite” (actual series a plant used).  A “reverse add” (black background with white type) works best. 
o   You can put a flyer on your web-site that your folks can pass on to friends via the net.
o   One church used multiple yard-signs on the lawns of Launch Team and Parent Church Member homes.  (make sure it’s OK in your area)

-  Cool: Those who are in the general area.
o   Direct Mail – is the primary way that most plants use to invite those who are not already in their networks.  They need the Gospel – and many have begun their spiritual journey though being invited by a good direct mail piece.
•  Try to mail to as many as possible: 15,000 as a minimum.  Some plants mail to 50,000 homes.
•  Try to mail to homes that fit the relational target that God is calling you to – this is good stewardship and allows you to tailor the message.
•  Try mailing multiple times to the same folks for multiple touches – perhaps twice during the Launch Phase, again for the next fall, and then continue for following years: fall, Jan/Feb, and Christmas or Easter.
Direct Mail (or other mass marketing) also gives your people Air Cover – the opportunity to talk again with the friends they’ve already invited, and to provide increased legitimacy and excitement about the church you invited them to.
o   Other Mass Marketing.  Or you can create multiple touches with other media: newspaper, radio, or even a bill-board (if it’s strategically located to direct people to your facility)

Story of a Recent Launch:
Launch Insights – February, 2008
Pastor Dave Diller, Renovate Covenant Church, Muskegon, MI
(Primarily a 20 and 30 Something church plant)

•  Set a specific day (Feb. 10th) in which we could put our time and energy behind.  Anticipating we would have many new people with us on that day in forced us to take “a fresh look” at what we were doing and how we were doing it so we could “tidy things up”
•  3 weeks out we sent out 10,000 postcards advertising the 6-week series that was beginning on Feb. 10th.  “Designed for Greatness” a series to inspire and encourage people to become all that God as made them to be.
•  1.5 weeks out we sent out another 10,000 mailers to the same database (20-35 year olds within a 3 mile radius of our zip).  This peace was a full sheet (8.5 x 11) glossy, folded in half and simply read: “You’re invited” on the cover; stated Feb 10th in BIG print, and then 3 quick bullets about what people could expect.
•  Website.  We created a new website that gives a great glimpse into who renovate is.  All of our mailers had the website in large print. (We spent about $2,700).  The sites main page has rotating images that correspond with the mailers.  Provide messages to download, a place to share a personal story, who to contact if you’d like to serve, as well as philosophies that we hold to.
•  Saturday 1 week before launch we bought the entire back page of the 1st section of the main paper.  Full color.  We had full creative control on imagery and wording.  We used this to introduce ourselves to the community, highlight our parent church Forest Park, and talk about all the good things we are about.  We also pointed to Feb 10th and our website.
•  Wed, Thurs, Fri News Paper (1 week before and week of) we had a 3 x 5 add running in the paper highlighting Feb 10, the new series, and our website.
•  2 weeks prior we distributed 50 double sided yard signs (the political kind, bright red) that said:  “You’re invited, Feb 10th Renovate Church”, etc.  Although these were picked up by the city (violated some silly ordinance even on private property) this really got our people pumped up for Feb. 10th.
•  We utilized biz cards that we treated as invite cards as well as excess “designed for greatness” cards. 
•  All of these things worked together to enable a successful word of mouth.  It gave our people great confidence to know that “the word was out.”  The “multiple touches” really resonated with people.  This also helped because we solidified a strong “brand.” (We had a unified logo and a consistent message.)
•  We also spent the 6 Sundays before Feb 10th doing an evangelism Message series called: “Channel 4: Broadcasting the Kingdom”.  We figured that if we wanted our people to share their faith, etc. we (me) were responsible to help equip them to do that effectively in our context.
•  Party at the Pastor’s: basically potlucks at my home.  We did one in December, Jan, and in late Feb.  We have seen a great turn out (35-55 people).  This provided a great “medium sized group” for people to connect in an intentional but non-threatening way.  I shared for 5 minutes about the vision for Renovate.
•  Guitar Hero Family Night:  During our launch we have a local bar/grill owner who is closing down his place for us on a Sunday night (he doesn’t get much business then anyway) so we can have the run of the place and play Guitar Hero on the big screens (Guitar Hero has connected with people of various ages).  We heavily emphasize that our people invite their friends (people might be afraid of Church on a Sunday morning even if it meets in a H.S., but they will come hang out at a sports bar).  Not every church planter has connections like this to have a bar open up just for them, but every church planter does have connections.  We need to look around, see who we have, get creative and ask.
•  For Feb 10th we also ordered enough subway to feed everyone that came. (We donated any extra to a local shelter for a win/win.)
•  We tightened up our music, kids, greeting, follow up, and Life Packs (easy to fill “packs” that our people could fill with things to drop off at shelters).  We invested $4K in a Kids video (10ft screen) and audio to have a “Wow” effect in the gym.  We gave our Kids Workers range “Renovate Kids” t-shirts and laminated name tags.  This clearly communicated to parents that their kids were “in good hands, we know what we’re doing.”  We experimented with our Kids Ministry prior to our Launch, but once we entered launch season we felt we needed to stay fairly predictable (in a good way), so we could consistently provide a quality ministry. 
If I could emphasize one aspect:  Do not skimp out on what your church produces via promo materials.  Your logo, website, mailers, etc should be top-notch quality.  It often doesn’t cost that much more to have these professionally done.  Also you have to count the cost of not spending some money here, I am reminded of 1 Sam when David is anointed King and God tells Samuel. “Man looks at the outside, but I look at the heart.”  Let this inspire you to outwardly do things with excellence because “man does look at the outside” and asks: “is this worth my time”.  In other words. “The Medium IS the Message.”  (You may have great content and a great vision, but if it is printed at home if the coloring is off, and if it looks crummy, then you end up communicating things that are not intended.)
Some helpful resources here:
•  Artistry Marketing: This is a Christian company desiring to help the church “look good”.  They do everything from Branding (logo, concept, etc) to websites (from custom sites to “custom looking sites”) that have a great look and easy functionality (you don’t need any computer background to operate it) and can add great features (video, audio files, calendar, blog, podcast, sign up, plus send out mass emails that have your website’s look.  Their branding and web services begin at very reasonable prices (about $2k); their customer support and tech support are lights out.
•  48 Hour Print: great quality, quick turn around.  They will also handle mass mailers.  All you have to do is submit your data base via excel and they print the addresses, postmark, collate, and deliver to the post office.
•  Britten Banners: Handles all of our banners (retractable, as well as ones we hang from the ceiling).  Their quality is awesome and so is their customer service.  They can do just about anything.

THE RESULT:  First Sunday of Launch was February 10.  There was a blizzard that closed most churches in the Muskegon area.  All of the “fluff” (well-wishers) stayed home.  The Launch Team of 40 faithfully set-up the space we had rented and we fervently prayed “God, we’ve done all we can in Faith, and we leave the results up to You.”  And 180 showed up!  Praise God!

What from this story can you apply to your plant?


2. You will Learn How to Make a Lasting Impression When They Come

First Impressions of Guests
Adapted from Mark Waltz, Granger Community Church
First Impressions, Group Publishing

“You never get a second chance at making a First Impression.”  Mom.

“You have 10 minutes from the time a guest drives onto you campus to make a good first impression.”

“Because people matter to God, they should matter to us.” 
Therefore, we have to think through the experiences that matter to our guests when they come to our church (for themselves and for their kids) – so they can see evidence of God’s love in the tangible ways we’ve cared for them.

The following help you think about how to create great First Impressions:

•  How does our Public Worship, Kids Ministry, etc clearly express our unique Mission?
•  If your mission includes reaching people for Christ, then how does your mission impact everything: signage, building, grounds, ministries, etc?

•  Is there a specific group of people you are trying to reach with the Gospel? 
•  “Anticipate the needs of your guests and do everything you can to make them comfortable.”  Mom
•  What do you want your guests to say about your church on Monday morning at their workplaces and to their friends?

•  Is your current campus “inviting?”
•  Are the signs attractive and clear? 
•  Parking: Is there a safe ‘drop-off’ area? Is there surplus parking?  Do you need ‘parking lot ambassadors’ and greeters to help guests—especially when it’s raining or snowing or when they have small children or if they have trouble walking?

•  Children’s Ministry
•  Is your children’s ministry up-front and attractive?  Is there ‘energy’ communicated along with a warm welcome, a safe check-in procedure, and adequate information about the kid’s ministry?

•  Greeting/Hospitality – Connection/Follow-up
•  Is there a central greeter station – and are the greeters ‘welcoming,’ informed and helpful?
•  When people call the church during the week, can they ‘get through’ and find the help they seek?
•  When people log on to the web-site, is it attractive, up-to-date, easily navigated, and helpful?

3. You will Learn How to Test Fruitfulness in Your New Church



The First Message and Mission of the Church
The church is to proclaim the message of forgiveness in Christ, which produces reconciliation with God. This is called Evangelism. Evangelism happens publicly and personally when people encounter the love and truth of Jesus.

The Second Message and Mission of the Church
The church is to help people break the bonds that hold and oppress them, helping restore in them God’s original creation. This is called Ministry. Ministry happens through prayer, healing, and practical help that leads to a restored image of God.

The Third Message and Mission of the Church
The church is to help people live a new, resurrected life in Christ, through the filling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This is called Spiritual Formation. Spiritual formation happens through teaching, Bible study, the spiritual disciplines, and mentoring.

The Fourth Message and Mission of the Church
The church is to be a compassionate countercultural force in the community, nation, and world. This is called Love. Love happens locally, regionally, and globally through compassion, mercy, righteousness, and justice.

The Fifth Message and Mission of the Church
The church is to be God’s community of broken-yet-healing people that provides love, support, and accountability for each other. This is called True Community. True community happens through love, worship, fellowship, feasting, and Holy Communion, and multiplies through church planting.

Testing Fruitfulness

Test it like a farmer who owns an orchard, you not only want “Leafy” Trees, you want “Fruitful Trees” (Luke 13:6-9).  And you want quantity and quality of fruit.  Without both quantity and quality, you’ll soon be out of business!

Test it from God’s perspective of the fruit He anticipates from your church – More Believers, Better Disciples, and More Impact on our Mission Field.  Jesus becomes the “holy fruit inspector” for the 7 Churches of Revelation 2-3.

This is to my father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  John 15:8

Test yourself and your leaders first:

•  Do you have more leaders now than when you started?  Are these the right leaders in the crucial roles?

•  Do you and your leaders understand the strategic steps for this stage?

Test the fruitfulness of the plant:

How will you measure fruitfulness in your church plant in each of the five areas?  Remember there are qualitative and quantitative measurements. (note – chapter 5 introduced this topic on Vision)

Categories         Quantity     Qualities          

1.  Evangelism

2.  Ministry

3.  Spiritual Formation

4.  Love

5.  True Community

+ Expanding the orchard
through church planting for more missional impact!

4.  You will Learn How to Follow-up on Guests through Assimilation and Connection

Assimilation System
Journey Church, New York City, Nelson Searcy, 2007
From the book Fusion, Appendix A

First-Time Visit
o   A person attends the Journey for the first time & fills out a Communication card.
o   Following the service, the first-time guest receives a free book and can visit the Fresh Start Table to ask questions or talk with a member or staff person.
o   The guest receives an email within 36 hours of attending a Journey service.  This email includes a link to an online survey that encourages feedback from the first visit and connects the person to the Journey’s website.
o   The guest receives a handwritten note in the mail within 96 hours of attending a Journey service.  In addition to a postcard describing the current message series, this note includes an unexpected gift to wow the first-time guest.  The gift is relevant to the target demographic.
o   The person receives a typed letter in the mail approximately one week after the first visit.  Included in the letter are another gift and an audio message CD from a prior service.

Second-Time Visit
o   A person attends the Journey for the second time and again fills out a Communication card.
o   The person receives an email within 36 hours of the second visit.  This email focuses on a specific way the person can get connected at the Journey.
o   The person receives a typed letter in the mail within 96 hours of the second visit.  Included in the letter is a second surprise gift that someone in the target demographic would appreciate.

Regular Attender
o   A regular attender is encouraged and has opportunities to sign up for service teams, Play Groups, Growth Groups, baptism and Membership Class on a weekly basis.
o   The regular attender is eligible to attend Membership class after attending the Journey regularly for two months.

The Journey’s Assimilation Process

The Journey exists to give the people of New York City the best opportunity to become fully developing followers of Jesus.

As part of this over-all mission, the Journey’s Assimilation System exists to move people forward along a three-step process.

1.  From being first-time guests to becoming second-time guests.
2.  From being second-time guests to becoming regular attenders.
3.  From being regular attenders to becoming fully developed members.

This strategy is based on the assumption that once a people become fully engaged members (people working out the five purposes in their life at the Journey—see below), they are experiencing real life transformation and as a result are in the process of becoming fully developing followers of Jesus (the ultimate mission of the church).

The five purposes members work out in their lives are:
1.  accepting the invitation to an intimate relationship with God
2.  connecting to healthy relationships with other Christians
3.  moving toward an authentic commitment to God
4.  becoming involved in life-changing ministry and mission in the city and the world.
5.  honoring God completely

The goal of assimilation at the Journey is to move people to take the important and life-changing step on church membership (from home plate to first base using the Purpose-Driven Church model of the baseball diamond).

First-Time Guest Online Survey
Thank-you for visiting The Journey recently!  You matter to us, and so does your opinion.  We would appreciate your feedback on the following four questions.
-  What did you notice first?
-  What did you like best?
-  What was your overall impression?
-  How can we pray for you?
Email address:

Second-Time Guest Online Survey
Thank-you for visiting the Journey for a second time!  We would appreciate your feedback on the following four questions.
-  What most influenced your decision to attend the Journey a second time?
-  What was most memorable about your first or second time at the Journey?
-  Would you feel comfortable inviting your friends to attend the Journey with you?  Why?
-  How could we improve your experience?
-  Would you be interesting in learning more about:
o   Growth Groups
o   Serving on Sunday
o   Volunteering during the week
Name & Email address


Follow-up – a Predictable Path for Connection

How will your church follow-up on those who come as guests?


What will be the easy-to-follow pathways to move people closer to Christ and the church?


Typical Momentum-Busters in a 4 Stage Launch
1.  Lack of visitors

2.  Pastor Lacks “leadership savvy”

3.  No life transformation happening

4.  Public Ministry fails to ignite energy

5.  No “spark in the eye” (Group has a ’blah’ personality!!)

6.  Empowering the wrong lay leaders.

7.  Hiring the wrong staff

8.  Having a financial crisis

9.  Poor planning and not thinking ahead

10.    Agenda disharmony

11.  “Niche” too narrow to meet Minimum Requirements

12.    Project not well-conceived

13.    Launch Team seals-off the center

Which of these Momentum Busters may be true of your plant?



5. You will Proclaim the Gospel through Great Preaching

What are some insights you can make from the following on Message Preparation? 

Many church plants have benefited from Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley, where he shares that preaching is like taking people on a Journey from where they are to a destination.  He also shares his simple outline method: Me-We-God-You-We.

Or, How to Speak to Youth and Keep them Awake at the Same Time by Ken Davis, where he shares his SCORRE method.

Urban and Ethnic Planters may enjoy They Like to Never Quit Praising God and Power in the Pulpit by Dr. Frank Thomas.

Often church plants utilize 4-8 week series.  This helps encourage your people to extend new invitation each time.  It also helps organize your preparation.

Try to plan further out than you have before.  If you’ve planned one series, try to generally think about the next 2 – 3 series.  Begin to collect information, stories, etc on these and put them in a file.

“A deaf church is a dead church: that is an unalterable principle. God quickens, feeds, inspires and guides his people by his Word. For whenever the Bible is truly and systematically expounded, God uses it to give his people the vision without which they perish. First, they begin to see what he wants them to be, his new society in the world. Then they go on to grasp the resources he has given them in Christ to fulfill his purpose. That is why it is only by humble and obedient listening to his voice that the Church can grow into maturity, serve the world and glorify its Lord.” (John Stott)

“Christian preachers, more than all others, should know that people are starving for God. If anyone in all the world should be able to say, ‘I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory, it is the herald of God. Who but preachers will look out over the wasteland of secular culture and say, ‘Behold your God!’? Who will tell the people that God is great and greatly to be praised? Who will paint for them the landscape of God’s grandeur? Who will remind them with tales of wonder that God has triumphed over every foe? Who will cry out above every crisis, ‘Your God reigns!’? Who will labor to find words that can carry the ‘gospel of the glory of the blessed God’?” (John Piper)

Nothing but fire kindles fire. To know in one’s whole nature what it is to live by Christ; to be His, not our own; to be so occupied with gratitude for what He did for us and for what He continually is to us that His will and His glory shall be the sole desires of our life . . . that is the first necessity of the preacher. (Phillips Brooks)

Thoughts on Message Preparation: Craig Groeschel – most of his messages available for free at “open” Harder Work   Posted: 29 Apr 2008 05:28 AM CDT

We’re talking about the importance of “bringing” you in a message to your church.
To bring you means you’ll have to spend more time in study and prayer.
(Notice I didn’t say research. Studying the text is vital, but don’t stop there.)
•  A “Saturday night special” sermon that you throw together won’t likely empower you to bring you.
•  A sermon you lifted from won’t do the trick either. (I made up that site.)
•  A rehashed sermon you preached five years ago will likely feel like a rehashed sermon you preached five years ago.
You must live the message. Breathe the message. Experience God’s Spirit speaking to you. That generally takes time. In my opinion, the best messages are usually ones that are born out of days or weeks of wrestling with God’s Word.

When possible, I suggest:
•  Spend four days preparing three hours a day rather than one twelve-hour day. (This gives your Spirit and mind time to process what God is saying to you.)
•  Interview a few other people about the text. See how God speaks to them. God might say something to you through them.
•  Let the message “cook.” Instead of microwaving a message, give God time to slowly burn the message on your heart.

If you are unwilling to do what it takes to bring you, your effectiveness as a biblical communicator will be drastically limited.

Authentic and Transparent Communication   Posted: 28 Apr 2008 06:28 AM CDT
This week I’d like to discuss the value and necessity of authentic and transparent preaching.

Bring You
Every year, I personally mentor a handful of young speakers. Most of the speakers I work with don’t struggle with researching the text, preaching creatively, building meaningful outlines, or pointing people toward the gospel. Most of the communicators I see struggle to bring all of themselves to a message.

When you preach or teach, you must bring you. Without you in, around, and through the message, you will not impact today’s listener.

The younger audience today has a built in authentic-meter. You can preach with passion, humor, clever points, or heart-wrenching stories. But if the scriptures haven’t touched your life, the listener will know it—and ignore your well-crafted message.

People want to know:
•  How has the text affected you?
•  How have you failed in the area(s) the Scripture addresses?
•  What about the text makes you uncomfortable?
•  What do you feel about what scripture is saying? (I know our feelings don’t trump scriptural truth, but talking about how we feel about the text can help engage others to listen at a deeper level.)
•  How are you becoming different because of your study in God’s word?

Less Is More   Posted: 12 Jun 2008 05:17 AM CDT
Andy Stanley has said it for years: Less is more. He’s right.

I’m as guilty as anyone I know of cramming too much information into a message. I’m working hard to communicate more by communicating less.

(Some preachers can cover a whole 4-week series in one message!)

Not only do too many preachers attempt to communicate too much content, but many take too much time to do it.

Why take 45 minutes to communicate 30 minutes worth of content?
Why take 35 minutes to communicate 25 minutes worth of content?

There are a few preachers who can hold a crowd for an hour, but not many. (Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, and Matt Chandler seem to do it well. Most don’t.)

Many who preach an hour (or more) could say the same thing in 45 minutes. I’d argue they would probably be even better.

I’m not saying we should shortchange the amount of time we devote to preaching, but I do think most communicators would be more effective if they shaved some fluff from their messages.

As communicators, we can become emotionally attached to information others simply don’t care about. Find those areas and cut them.

In the past year, I’ve shaved about 8% off the time of most messages. I have done so without sacrificing the quality of biblical content. Hopefully my focus has made it better.  Less is more.

Other Resources For Preaching and Teaching:
  Sermons and More - Read the sermons of some of the greatest preachers in the history of the church
    Internet Guide to Preaching - This is designed as a handy aid to sermon preparation.
Leon@rd Sweet’s PreachingPlus - Willowcreek Messages - from Saddleback Church – free resources from Crossroads Church, Cincinatti – access some of the messages by John McLendon as he addresses the Questions about God that people in community have sent in.

Here are podcosts that young church planters are listening to:
Tim Keller
Erwin Mcmanus
Efrem Smith
Peter Hong
Rob Bell
Mark Driscoll

Chapter 23, “Preaching in the New Church,” Planting Missional Churches, by Ed Stetzer

Or have a link on your church web-site with the text you’ll be preaching on next week, with a link to BibleGateway.  People can check it out and prepare their hearts.  They can also recommend it to their friends.

From Alex Rahill at LifeChurch Canton, MI
- Videos in message:,,
- Sermon Series: Sermon Central
            “Preaching Today” — great audio
- Preaching skills — 4 things I do regularly
      1.  Listen to a good communicator – vary who you listen to.
      2.  Listen to my own message – and figure out how to improve.
      3.  Watch video of message when available.
      4.  Ask for others honest evaluation of your messages. 1-800-391-1905
The African American Lectionary project, in conjunction with the work begun by The African American
Pulpit Journal, its President and Publisher, Martha Simmons, has assembled a team of scholars to develop
the first African American non-denominational lectionary, and place it online!  The Kelly Miller Smith
Institute of Vanderbilt Divinity School, Vanderbilt University, is also a partner in the project.

The lectionary highlights significant liturgical movements that express the joys and challenges of being
African American and Christian (for example, Watch Night, Women’s Day and Usher’s Day).  The lectionary project also incorporates some of the traditional celebrations of the Christian year and moments of special importance to African American Christians.


6. You will Plan and Schedule a Fruitful Grand Opening

Developmental Goals

1.  Re-igniting Visitor Flow and Getting Into New Networks
2.  Getting Results from Your Evangelism Process
3.  Patience to Keep Building Strength through Attention to Doing ‘The First Things’ The Church Initially Did Well
4.  An Emerging Vision of What are the ‘Next Steps’ for The Church

Most Productive Activities

1.  Strong Preaching
2.  Strong Leading through Vision and Ministry Development
3.  Finding How to Get More Unbelievers Into The Church’s Sphere of Influence
4.  Slowly Identifying Emerging Lay Leaders


1.  A Minimum Attendance of 110 or more in Services
2.  The Beginning of an Interim Leadership Team
3.  Balanced Planning for Outreach and Spiritual Growth of Christians
4.  Stage Four Details - Begin Planning for being Received as Covenant Church, with Constitution, Leadership Structure and Membership

Warning Signs

1.  Burnout By Church Planter and/or Spouse and/or Key Lay Leaders
2.  Church Goes to Maintenance ‘Auto-Pilot’ Mode
3.  Lack of Seekers Coming Within The Church’s Influence
4.  Early Adopters Now Leaving for No Reason


DRAFT Strategic Ministry Plan For Our New Church

1. Theological Basis >>
  2. Spiritual Foundation in Prayer >>
      3. Mission Field - Need of our Area >>
        4. Evangelistic Strategies >>
          5. Our Specific Vision >>
              6. The Strategy of the 4-Stage Launch >>
                Stage 1 - Roots: Launch Team Gathering
                Stage 2 - Leaves: Preview Services
                Stage 3 - Branches: Preparatory Worship
                Stage 4 - Fruit: Launch
                  7. Leadership >>
                      8. Covenant >>
                        9. Finances>>

6. The Four Stage Launch Strategy: Stage 4 – Fruit: Launch

Our Plan to invite as many guests as possible.

Our Plan to make a lasting impression on guests.

What kind of fruitfulness do we envision
  In terms of numbers who come
  The people who stick and get connected
  The number of new believers in our first year
  The number of people discipled in small groups
  The number of ministry and mission teams we’ll have

Our Plan to follow-up on guests – assimilation and connection.

The pastor’s plan to Preach the Gospel.

Our plan for a fruitful 3-4 month Launch.



Category:Phase 4 - Launch & Grand Opening
Category:Fruitfulness - Years 2-3
Church Planting Resource Manual