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View GATHERING EVENTS FOR A NEW CHURCH

GATHERING EVENTS FOR A NEW CHURCH IDEAS FOR THE PLANTER AND LAUNCH TEAM

EVANGELISM

You can grow the launch team through reaching out to the un-churched.  There is a growing population of individuals who have disconnected from the church for one reason or another or have never been a part of the church.  You will be most effective in reaching them through intentional relationship building.  The biggest potential place to find launch team is by focusing on evangelism from the very first day.  Studies show that the majority of the population across the country do not profess a faith in Jesus Christ, yet are open to discussions about spiritual things.  If they are captivated by the mission and vision as they see your church in action in the community they decide to join you in serving, giving and loving. They may be willing to join the launch team even while they are still exploring what it means to be a follower of Christ. 

Gathering Strategies for the Planting Pastor

•  If you are married, pastor, you and your spouse give you a launch team of 2.  If you have children you’ve just grown your launch team accordingly.

•  You will want to exhaust every personal network you and your family have at the beginning.
    o   Contact all your friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors and share the vision with them.
    o   Make a list of 50 people that you know who you can share the vision for this new church with.
    o   One pastor suggests utilizing the 3/5 rule.  This means 5 contacts a day until you get 3 meetings or sit downs to share the vision of the church.
    o   You can’t plant a church sitting behind a desk or working on the computer, you need to be out in the community.  Ask people to join you as fellow missionaries to your community.

“Pastors who network their communities, especially in the first year of a pastorate, may end up knowing that community better than any other person.  This upfront investment of time should pay rich dividends and provide the opportunity to help people…”  Ray Bakke
(The Expanded Mission of City Center Churches, pp 53-54)


•  Who should you meet with next?
    o   Local Influencers:

After you’ve run out of personal contacts, a good next step is to begin to meet with city officials, school leadership, and business leaders in your community to share with them the vision for this new church and to ask for their help in identifying the critical needs in your community.

David Hesselgrave writes, “Research in the areas of anthropology, sociology and communication underscores the importance of the roles of formal leaders, sponsors and mediators in society.  Depending upon the particular societal arrangements that appertain, the newcomer may find it all but impossible to gain acceptance apart from proper approach to such persons.  Even in western societies that emphasize egalitarianism, an initial contact with those who fill these roles will usually enhance the missionary cause.” (Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: A Guide for Home and Foreign Missions, pg 167)

    o   Get involved in community organizations: 
Serve on community boards, work with the Boy or Girl Scouts, serve on the PTA, coach youth sports, etc.  Be a part of organizations that have the heart of the community. You’ll begin to understand the heart-beat and needs.  Plus, you’ll have a lot of allies and friends and influencers who will help you.

    o   New Residents:
Another point of contact can be the new residents in your community.  Intentionally contact those who are new to your community.  They won’t be connected with another church so the risk is low that you will infringe on another church’s turf.  For new resident info go to: www.newmovers.org Make sure you follow up with the information you receive in a timely fashion since others will no doubt be contacting them as well.  You can occasionally purchase new resident contact info from local utility companies in your area.

    o   Everywhere that people gather:
Look for every opportunity to begin building new relationships at the coffee shop, the library, schools, day care, health clubs, sports leagues, etc.  You might even choose to go door to door in your neighborhood and encourage those who are joining you to do the same in theirs.  As pastor, you must begin to model personal witness to those who are coming to form your launch team.  Build into the DNA of this young church from the very beginning a heart and passion for those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Gathering Strategies for the Launch Team

•  Tap into the new networks of those who are coming alongside you by asking them to share the vision with those they know.  Ask each person on the growing launch team to make a list of 10 individuals that they will commit to share the vision of this new church with.

•  Provide the launch team with tools to use as they meet with people.  Create invite cards that the growing launch team can give to those they meet.

•  Get On-Line.
    o   A quality website is important since 77% of the people you talk to will check out the new church via the web before they commit to attend an event.
    o   E-vites are another way that you can equip people in their efforts to reach others.  Or design neat posters that can be placed on your website and easily emailed to contacts.
    o   One new church encouraged their people to invite friends (and anyone else interested in a new spiritual community) via a social-networking site like “Face-book.”
•  Host gathering events that will provide an entry point for new people to meet the church planter and the growing launch team where they will hear a little about what God is calling this church to become.  This also provides an initial connectional point for the new people that are gathering.  These gathering events are social gatherings that allow you to begin to build relationships and begin to share about this new church.  Those who gather will be invited by the current launch team members so they know that this is an event sponsored by the new church.

Gathering Event Suggestions

1.  Many Covenant church plants have used Vision Desserts very effectively.  Plan for a 90 minute time frame with the event hosted at someone’s home.  It may be that several members of the launch team will invite their neighbors to their homes as you host a number of these evening gatherings.  Begin the evening with dessert and coffee.  This allows for late arrivals to not miss the presentation.  They begin the presentation 15 minutes after everyone has gathered.  The church planter and their spouse present for 50-60 minutes.  And then answer questions for the remainder of the time. 

Vision Dessert requirements:
•  Someone’s home
•  A Projector
•  Portable screen (although a blank wall works well)
•  Laptop computer
•  And of course, people to attend.

Develop a Power-point that contains:
•  30-40 slides which they moved through quickly
•  Utilize numerous slides from Dave Olson’s church attendance research.
•  Transition from the demographics to why you are planting this new church.
•  Present the vision, scriptural basis, and talk lots about the “preferred future” they were praying for.
•  Close the evening by asking people to prayerfully consider joining this vision.
•  Close in prayer.
•  Mention that the ECC is great at church planting.
•  Deflect doctrinal questions (there are usually very few) until after the meeting.  Focus primarily on the Message and Mission of Jesus.
•  It doesn’t matter if there are 2 or 20 in attendance; this seems to be an effective way of sharing the vision for the new plant.

2.  Open Houses are a way to allow people to hear more about this new church that God is growing.  Open houses can be hosted at a restaurant or other public venue, or they can be hosted in a parent church, or in individual homes.  The content and format will be similar to vision desserts.

3.  Neighborhood picnics/barbeques.  Have the launch team invite friends to a home or park where there will be good food and a straightforward presentation about this new plant.  Make sure that people know what they’re being invited to attend.  Avoid the bait and switch. 

4.  Initiate a Service project in the community like Habitat for Humanity, serving meals at a shelter in your area, providing labor for a local school project, or some other activity that allows people to get their hands dirty while connecting with the growing launch team.  It should be communicated to the group that gathers that this is precisely the kind of thing this new church desires to continue to do in the community.  Hand out contact information and follow up with any who express interest.
Engage the growing launch team in serving the community.  Serving must become a part of the DNA of this new church from the very beginning.  People will want to know why you are loving, giving, and serving – so be prepared to answer them.  Be a church that lives out the Gospel!

For ideas on servant evangelism projects go to: www.servantevangelism.com

For more information go to: Chapter 6 - Roots

 

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