Launch:ologyThe Art & Strategy of Launching Large Churchesby Dave PageeBook Dave Page
DEDICATION I dedicate this eBook to church planters around the world: spiritual entrepreneurs who riskeverything to start new churches! You are my heroes! I also dedicate this eBook to Rick Warren,my mentor, friend and role model. Thank you for believing in me! Lastly, I dedicate this eBookto Jackie Page, my daughter in heaven and inspiration on earth! I love and miss you so much!TESTIMONIALS “Having planted 3 churches, Dave knows firsthand the ever changing challenges of starting anew church. Hes a guide who knows the trail very well.” - Nathan Oates, Emmaus ChurchCommunity, Lincoln, CA “Dave just had a great handle on how to start a church from scratch and he just understoodwhat God is doing in our day and age. Dave took me under his wing and taught me biblicalprinciples and effective practices in launching a new church that cannot be learned in aclassroom.” - Mark Lee, Vantage Point Church, Eastvale, CA “Dave has a pastors heart and a heart for church planters. So many times I asked Dave, ‘Whatdo I do now?’ He was always there not only with encouragement but with practical next steps tocarry us to the next stage and level. “ - Jim Cowart, Harvest Church, Warner Robbins, GA “Daves youth, athletic vigor, and unique success as a church planter has revolutionizedEFCA Wests unique role in church planting.” - Steve Highfill, District Superintendent, EFCAWest “If there’s ever been a church planting coach in America that is effective, it’s Dave Page!” -Ron Sylvia, Church at the Springs, Ocala, FL “If you want to know about church planting, you need to talk to Dave Page!” - Rick Warren,Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA “I recommend Dave to you as a coach! I’m a big fan of his!” - Ken Blanchard, Ph.D -Author and Leadership Guru
BACKGROUND This eBook is the result of my experience as a church planter who started three churches, aconference speaker who taught church planting at Saddleback Church and now teaches atExponential, a trainer who has trained church planters and pastors on four continents, a churchplanting coach and mentor with the Evangelical Free Church of America and a leadership coachwith NEXT Coaching Networks.PASSION I have a passion to see people follow Jesus. I also have a passion to help church planters.Church planting is a team sport. No one can do it alone. We need ministry partners to help usplant. Even the Apostle Paul needed ministry partners:“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6GOAL I want add value to your life by watering the seeds you plant in your new church andwatching as God grows them. Whether you define your church as attractional, incarnational, ormissional, you’ve accepted God’s call to reach others for Jesus Christ.My goal is to provide you with helpful tips and tools to launch larger and reach more people thanyou originally planned. I hope to stretch your faith and equip you to plant a healthy church forthe glory of God that not only survives but thrives!I believe some of the most effective churches in the world are yet to be launched. God may useyou to launch one of these churches!Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gatesof hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18MY STORY Truth be told, I really didn’t know what I was doing when I planted my first church and therewasnt much written on the subject at the time. I just knew I had a call from God to reach myunchurched friends through starting a church. I decided my best strategy was to find someone
who had done it and done it well and have them coach and mentor me in the process. A meetingwith Rick Warren turned out to be a divine appointment. At the time, Saddleback Church wasseven years old and was running around 2,000 people. Warren had been greatly influenced by Donald McGavran and believed that God wanted hischurch to grow–he wanted his lost sheep found! Saddleback Church had a core group of 15people who hand addressed and hand stamped 15,000 letters that were mailed out into thecommunity. The letters arrived a week early and 60 people from the community showed up for adress rehearsal (trial run) service. The next Sunday the church held its first worship service onEaster, April 6, 1980 and 205 people showed up. This was the beginning of a new paradigm forchurch planting - launching large! I first met Rick at a Southern Baptist evangelism conference. I shared with him that God hadcalled me to plant a church in Palmdale, California. He asked, "Why Palmdale?" I said, “Mywife and I prayed about where to go and I did some demographic studies and believe Palmdalewould be a great place to plant a church.” We talked for about 20 minutes and at the end of ourconversation he said, "Dave, Saddleback Church will sponsor you and your new church plant."He encouraged me to attend a seminar that he was teaching at the next week that was put on bythe Fuller Institute of Church Growth. The seminar was called," How to plant a church.” The first presenter at the seminar was C. Peter Wagner. At the end of his presentation ondemographics he said, “If I was going to plant a church today I would plant in Palmdale becauseits the fastest growing city in the state of California of cities under 50,000 people."1 My firstthought was, "Oh no, now all 200 of the seminar attendees are going to move to Palmdale toplant a church." In reality it was Gods way of confirming my call to Palmdale. This was thebeginning of my journey into the world of church planting and church growth. I figured if Rick could launch large then maybe I could as well. We sold our home and movedto Palmdale and started a home Bible study and held our first public worship service out of ahotel five months later. We had 154 people show up at the launch of Harvest CommunityChurch. Eight years later we felt God call us to Auburn, California, a suburb of Sacramento toplant again. This time we had a core group that grew to 70 people and we launched BaysideAuburn Church with 383 people on Easter Sunday, the largest launch in the history of theCalifornia Southern Baptist Convention at the time. Ten years later we felt God calling us back1 C. Peter Wagner, quote from the “How to Plant a Church” seminar at the Fuller Institute of Church Growth, 1988.
to Southern California to start a third church. We had a core group of 30 people and had 220people at our first preview service and 260 people on Conejo Churchs launch Sunday. All threechurch plants were daughter churches of Saddleback. If I can do it so can you! I ended up planting 3 churches in California, all of which launchedlarge, two of which grew to be very large (1000+) and reproduced. I became the primary trainerat the Purpose-Driven Church Planting Seminars at Saddleback Church for 10 years. Im not anauthority on many things but I feel I do know a little about launching large churches andbreaking through growth barriers quickly. Some have written books on launching large but havenever done it. If you feel God calling you to start a church and you want to launch large I wouldencourage you to find someone who has done it and learn from him. I have a passion to see people won to Jesus Christ and see changed lives. I also have a greatlove and admiration for church planters and enjoy training them, coaching them and empoweringthem to launch thriving churches and to reach their fullest leadership capacity. My goal is to dofor church planters what Rick Warren did for me. I am now the Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Free Church of America (WestDistrict). I help coach all different types of church planters to launch their various models ofchurches as large as possible. By Gods grace, our district has planted over 30 churches in thelast five years, the majority of which have launched large. In this paper I will share five examplesof churches in our District that have recently launched large and continue to grow.A MAJOR PARADIGM SHIFT New church plants typically start out small, many begin as home Bible studies or in astorefront. The old paradigm was to plant a church and watch it slowly grow, like a tree. TheSouthern Baptist denomination used to refer to new church plants as mission churches. Themission church would not become a full-fledged church until it was at least 3 years old. When Iplanted my first church our Director of Missions for our local SBC Association gave me a bookon church planting that laid out a plan for breaking the 25, 50, 75 and 100 attendance barrierswithin the first few years of the church. We had already broken the hundred barrier in our grandopening service. A generation ago pastors who planted churches had it a bit easier. Regardless of the modelthey used, if they built a church building, people would come. That was when the majority of
Americans went to church. That is not the case now. Today, we live in a postmodern and post-Christian society. Most Americans still say they believe in the existence of God, are spiritual butnot religious, but most of them do not attend church these days. David Olson, author of theAmerican church in crisis, did a national survey recently and found that only 17.5% ofAmericans attend a local church on any given Sunday. 2 In todays culture, a new church is not something you put in the ground, tend to, hoping that itwill eventually grow - thats an old school church planting metaphor. Rather, a starting a churchis more like launching a rocket ship –a new church planting metaphor. This metaphor oflaunching large is what differentiates it from traditional church planting thinking. If youve everwitnessed a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center you have seen the power exerted to getthe rocket ship off the ground. Neighbors who live nearby remove everything that hangs on theirwalls because off the blast. The rocket launch can be seen for hundreds of miles and felt byeveryone within a 30-mile radius. Like a rocket ship, churches are now being launched intocommunities. They explode onto the scene and capture everyones attention.3 I believe there are three main metaphors for church planting: planting, birthing and launching.Have you ever been invited to a planting? Probably not, if you ever were I don’t think you wouldfind it very exciting. The Apostle Paul used the planting metaphor when he said, "I planted,Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." 4 God is always the one who gives the growth butPaul was referring to a metaphor that made sense to people living in an agrarian culture in thefirst century. Have you ever been invited to a birth? Im talking about being invited to witnessthe birth of a baby that is not your own - probably not. Bob Logan, author of The Church Planters Toolkit, was the first person Id read who used thebirth analogy for starting churches and the various stages that accompany the birth process. Church planting is a lot like having a baby; it brings incredible joy and pain - all at the sametime, not to mention the postpartum depression! There is a built in urgency in birthing a babywith a set timeline. You dont want to birth the baby prematurely or wait very long after the ninemonth gestation period is up. The goal is to birth a healthy baby. But I believe the bestmetaphor for church planting in the 21st Century is launching. We launch rockets, movies,2 David T. Olson, The American Church in Crisis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 150.3 Ron Sylvia, Planting New Churches on Purpose (Lake Forest: Purpose-Driven, 2006), 107.4 1 Corinthians 3:6
careers, new business ventures, new products and new churches. In fact, I believe the early church in the book of Acts was launched. Acts 1 and 2 tells us thatthe first church went from a core group of 12 to 120 believers to over 3,000 believers overnight.Acts 2:47 says, “Each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.” Thenumber of believers actually grew daily! And Acts 4:4 tells us that many of the people whoheard the disciples message believed it, and the number of believers totaled about 5000 men, notcounting women and children. Conservative estimates put the number of believers around20,000. In the first year after Christs death, the number of believers grew from 120 to 220,000.So not only is crazy, go big, huge growth possible, its biblical!5 Like the early church of Acts,your church, if growth is a part of your and your peoples vision, can grow beyond what youcould ever imagine.6 New church launches are vibrant, life changing, living organisms positioned to impactcommunities in a great way by bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ in a relevant way to adesperate, hungry, lost, fast-moving and ever-changing world. Gods vision and plans for newchurches today are limitless. I believe the greatest churches in the world are yet to be launched.You could be the pastor of one of those churches! I challenge you to stop planting and startlaunching.WHAT IS LARGE? Nelson Searcy, who served on staff at Saddleback and went through our training and startedthe Journey Church in New York City and in South Florida defines launching large as "the abilityof a new church to reach as many people as possible within the first six to eight months ofexistence." 7 Large is a relative term and it depends on your city, your context and the culture youare trying to reach. I coached a friend of mine named David Miller, a former mega church pastor turned churchplanter, who started a church in Exeter, CA - think Mayberry R.F.D.! The population of Exeter isaround 10,000 people, a little over 3,000 households. The largest church in the city is theAssembly of God church that averages 400 people on Sunday and has been in existence for over5 Bill Easum and Bil Cornelius, Go Big (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006), 8.6 Ephesians 3:20-217 Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas, Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch (Ventura: Regal, 2006), 28.
30 years. Most of the eight churches in the city average less than 100 people. For Exeter, 100people would have been a huge launch! I told David I thought he could have 200 for theirlaunch Sunday and he thought I was crazy. After six months of preparation, Rocky HillCommunity Church launched with just over 200 people. If you started a church in Lone Pine, CA where the population is 2,035 people, 50 peoplewould be a big launch! I started churches in smaller to medium size areas with populationsbetween 12, 000-40,000 people. My wife and I got very involved and embedded in thecommunities we planted churches in through coaching and club sports, serving as a pastor and asa schoolteacher. However, large would look very different in the heart of Los Angeles, OrangeCounty or Orlando, Florida. Normally, I think of launching large as starting with 100, 200, 300 people or more at thegrand opening. Again, this may differ with certain denominations, cultures and ethnic groups. Our mission at the EFCA is to “Glorify God by multiplying healthy churches among allpeople."8 Launching healthy churches among all different people groups is very important to us.Each year we start at least one Filipino church in our district. We also attempt to start at least oneHispanic church. In both of these cultures, they usually begin their church is very small with 50or less people. A couple of years ago we started a Hispanic church a predominantly Spanishcommunity with over 200 people on its grand opening. Launching large is not just amethodology for suburbia.WHY LAUNCH LARGE? There are many benefits to launching large: Launching large provides the opportunity formore people in come to know Christ. Launching large provides a large group of people to followup on and assimilate into the church. Launching large helps a church to thrive and become healthy quicker. Many new churchestend to focus on survivability versus thrivability. Ed Stetzer found in his Survivability Study thatthe typical church plant does not pass 100 people after four years and that average size isapproximately 92 people.9 This is the difference between viewing the new church as a full-fledged church from the beginning versus a mission church.8 Evangelical Free Church of America, Mission statement.9Ed Stetzer and Phillip Connor, “Church Plant Survivability and Health Study 2007”, Research Bulletin, NorthAmerican Mission Board, 47 pages.
Church plants that dont break the 200 barrier within the first two years after going publiclessen their ability of ever doing so. “Ive noticed over and over that if a church doesnt getbeyond 200 within about a year and a half, it usually doesnt happen at all. On the other handchurches that get over 200 in the first year just keep on growing and growing.”10 Churches that launch large tend to blow by church growth barriers much easier and muchquicker then churches that dont launch large. Churches that launch large tend to create a buzz with in the community. Crowds attractcrowds. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, once said, “When you set yourselfon fire, people love to come and see you burn.” People are attracted to new beginnings andsignificant events. A large launch creates excitement and enthusiasm and can really impact acommunity. Churches that launch large have a tendency to establish credibility in a given community. “Agrowing population is a Kings glory; a dwindling nation is his doom.”11 Launching large createsmomentum. John Maxwell calls momentum “the big mo.” He says, “Momentum is really aleader’s best friend. Sometimes it’s the only difference between winning and losing. Peoplethroughout the organization are motivated to achieve more, and at a higher level. And maybeabove all else, momentum makes the leader look good.”12 Launching large enables the church to become financially sustainable much quicker. Manydenominations provide support for church planters for three years, gradually decreasing it eachyear. At the EFCA West, our goal is to see the plant be self-supporting within a year or two. Mostchurches of less than 100 people are not able to pay a pastor a full time salary. By launchinglarge the church can provide a full-time salary for the pastor and even salaries for other staffmembers. Launching large can help a new church reproduce sooner. Our EFCA West goal is to see ourchurches reproduce a daughter church within the first 3 years of its existence.THE CHALLENGES OF LAUNCHING LARGE There are certainly challenges that must be considered in advance before deciding to launch10 Rick Warren, quote from his Purpose-Driven Church Conference 11 Proverbs 14:2812 John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 197.
large. You must count the cost. Launching a church is extremely stressful, especially when youstart the church from scratch. I remember working many 14-hour days for weeks on end.Launching large is an emotional investment up front of everything youve got! This is a specialseason where you upload the front end so that in the long run you’re much better off. There is a higher cost financially to launch large. It will take more money up front. Money isneeded for marketing, advertising, multimedia, and portable church equipment, renting a facility,nursery equipment, computers, iPads, and office supplies. There is a faith factor that is involvedin launching large. Here I am talking about KROI, Kingdom Return On Investment - the greaterthe risk the greater the reward (return) on your investment. It takes exceptional leadership skills to launch large. Launching large is not for everyone.Rick Warren said, “I have discovered one great common denominator in every growing church,regardless of denomination or location: leadership that is not afraid to believe God. Growingchurches are led by leaders who expect their congregation to grow.”13WHO SHOULD LAUNCH LARGE? Launching large is not for everyone. Each planter needs to be assessed to see how he is wiredand what his strengths and gifts are. Some planters work better one on one with people or insmall groups and may be better suited to begin a house church or missional communities.Potential large launch pastors need to be strong leaders (usually a high “D” on the D.I.S.C. andstrengths such as Maximizer, Achiever or Strategic on StrengthsFinder). They need to possessexcellent teaching and communication skills; they are able to connect with a room full of people.They are entrepreneurial in nature and have a proven track record of successfully starting newministries in the past. They must also be good decision makers who are able to adjust on the flylike a good football coach who makes half time adjustments. Todd Hunter, former director of church planting for the Vineyard Church, USA found that theprimary indicators for church-plant failure rested with the disposition of the lead church plantpastor. Hunter’s research indicates that a passive approach to ministry is prone to failure;however, church planters with an aggressive strategy (e.g. “launching large”) for penetrating thecommunity and gathering those who would be leaders for the kingdom more frequently results in13 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 398.
successful church plants. 14 Charles Ridley, professor at Texas A&M University compiled the germinal research onchurch planting assessments with his Church Planter Profile (CPP). Most assessmentinstruments start with Ridley’s 13 characteristics in mind as they formulate their own churchplanter profiles to determine the effectiveness of a church planter. I have developed “Page’s 15 Characteristics” for a Large Launch Church Planter: • Clear Call • Compelling Vision • Large Faith • Extreme Likeability • Humility (Teachability/Servant Leader) • Flexibility • High Leadership Capacity/Skills • Entrepreneurial Skills • Excellent Communication Skills • Evangelism/Discipleship Skills • Emotional Health • Integrity • Hardworking/Never Gives Up • Enthusiastic • Spousal SupportGATHERING A CORE GROUP Church starts without a solid core group will tend to falter and fail. Being able to gather acore team separates the men from the boys in church planting. If you can’t gather a core groupthen you can’t start a church. I’ve found that the larger the core group prior to the launch themore people you will be able to assimilate into the church.14Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird, “The State of Church Planting in the United States 2007”, Lifeway Research andLeadership Network, 50 pages.
So how many people will you need to have in your core group prior to starting the church inorder to launch large? You will need at least 25–50 adults or more in your core group in order tolaunch large. Researcher Steven Gray found that fast growing church plants had a larger numberof people involved in the core group before the launch. While struggling church plants hadtwenty five or less in a core group, fast-growing church plants had 26-50. 15 In discussing coregroup size, Malphurs says, “Bigger is better.”16 Peter Wagner said, “To launch into publicworship prior to building a significant core group is not recommended.”17 Core groupdevelopment is one of the most crucial issues of any church plant. I can’t stress enough howimportant it is to gather a good-sized core group. Build your core group through your friends and their network of friends. We started each ofour churches with a bible study in our home, which became the core group for the new church.Where do you find core group members to help you start the church? Everywhere! I receivedreferrals from friends, churches, colleges (alumni who lived in our community) and employeesfrom my wife’s work. My wife (Carrie) worked as an assistant manager at a yogurt shop and Iwas able to recruit many of the workers, including the manager, to be part of our new church. I signed up for a basketball class at the local community college in order to meet and makenew friends that could join our church. I also did a radio commercial on the local Christian radiostation. I shared the vision of the new church and invited listeners to our first home bible study aweek later. Eight people showed up from the radio and each of them became part of our coregroup that helped us launch the church.DEVELOPING A LEADERSHIP TEAM Lyle Schaller said, “Starting a new church is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. I wouldntdo it unless I were part of a team.”18 Developing a leadership team is essential for launchinglarge. Ive started the church from scratch and, just me and my wife, and I’ve started a churchwith a team. I highly encourage you to gather a team in order to launch large. When we started15 Stephen Gray, Planting Fast-Growing Churches (St. Charles, IL: Church Smart Resources, 2007), 110.16 Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004) p. 320.17 C. Peter Wagner, Church Planting for a Greater Harvest (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1990), 120.18 Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004) p. 300.
our second church I was the point person over the church – the quarterback of the team. We alsohad a point person over worship/music/creative arts (this was a paid part-time employee), a pointperson over childrens ministry, a point person over evangelism, a point person over discipleship,a point person over students ministry and a point person who oversaw our administration (thiswas a volunteer secretary who worked 20 hours per week). It is extremely important that team members understand that they are joining the lead pastorin launching the church and not the other way around. They must buy into the lead pastors visionand philosophy of ministry or they need to find another church. When recruiting team members we looked for people with the right character, competencyand chemistry (organizational fit). Teams members must fit the new church’s culture. Teammembers need to be responsible to raise a large portion if not all of their salary. The lead planteris not responsible to raise funds for other team members. Fundraising is to be short term, one ortwo years at the most. We would normally begin by hiring part time employees from within ourchurch. When funds became available we moved people from quarter time to half time and fromhalf time to full-time. We also implement what I call the “50% Staff Salary Strategy.” In faith, if you have 50% ofthe salary needed for a potential staff member then you can go ahead and bring him on staff.This doesnt mean that you have half of his salary for the year sitting in the bank. It means thatyou have half of his monthly salary right now in your ongoing budget. The principle is that agood staff person is worth his salt and will help the church grow thus bringing in more revenue.PREVIEW SERVICES Preview services are one of the greatest innovations in the church planting world in the lasttwo decades. Previews were originally invented by David Olson of the Covenant Church and
first implemented at Bayside Church by pastor Ray Johnston in Granite Bay, CA in 1995.Preview services were specifically designed to attract a crowd and then turn that crowd into achurch. Preview services are monthly services prior to your launch (Grand Opening), which iswhen your weekly worship services begin. They are helpful for reaching out to unchurchedpeople. Preview services ease the unchurched into attending church on a gradual basis – theylike it because church only meets once a month! Bayside Church did its first preview as an experiment. They rented the Granite Bay Golf Clubon a rainy Sunday morning in January. A small core group of people from a Covenant Church inFolsom, CA invited their friends and sent out a direct mail piece into the community. The churchinitially set up 80 chairs but when Pastor Ray saw it begin to rain he asked the ushers to remove40 chairs. They had to put back those 40 chairs back and add a bunch more as 161 peopleattended that first preview service. Pastor Ray thought why not do another service like this nextmonth - so they did. At the second preview service 226 people showed up. They were ontosomething. Bayside Church ended up doing six monthly services in order to gather a largenumber of people for their grand opening. It worked so well that they had over 400 people whenthey launched on their grand opening Sunday. Preview services are like sneak previews for a coming movie. They introduce the communityto what the new church will be like. They should be done just like you plan on doing yourregular Sunday services once you have your grand opening. They are evangelistic events that canhave extra ordinary results. They are “big days” that provide an opportunity for the core group toinvite all their friends and family to the new church. They are not to be confused with practiceservices, even though they provide good practice. I encourage having between 3-6 monthlypreview services leading up to the grand opening. Steven Gray found that the more previewservices a church did, the more people they reached at their launch.19 All the preview services are important but in my opinion the first preview service is the mostimportant. It sets the stage for all the others and it has the potential to build tremendousmomentum if it’s done well. I encourage church planters to do their best outreach and marketingfor the first preview service. It will affect all the other previews.19 Stephen Gray, Planting Fast-Growing Churches (St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Rescources, 2007), 115.
COMEBACK EVENTS In order to build relationships with the new people who came to one or more of the previewservices, a second technique used alongside preview services is called a “Comeback” event. Acomeback event is scheduled two weeks after the preview service. For my first comeback eventwe rented a roller skating rink and invited everybody from our first preview service to join us.We had 72 people show up to roller skate! For another comeback event we had a “Pastor’s Chat”in our home and had 35 show up. In this casual and fun setting, my wife and I got to meet manyof the new people and their families and build relationships with them and become friends. Somechurches schedule a cookout in a local park.LEADERSHIP TRAINING Leadership training is scheduled for the first and third weeks after a preview service. This is atime of training for the core group. It’s a chance to debrief after each preview service andstrategize on how to make the next preview service even bigger and better. I know one churchplanter who instead of having the second leadership training of the month used that night to servethe city through various forms of servant evangelism. Leadership training also provides a chanceto enlist new people for service in the new plant and to continue to do ministry training with yourregular core group. However, the primary goal is not to have a new person come to the bi-monthly leadership training but to come to the next comeback event.WORKING THE “W” I am a visual learner. So I wanted to see what the launching large (preview) strategy wouldlook like on paper. When you draw the strategy out you find that it forms a “W.” I encouragechurch planters to “Work the W.” Have monthly preview services followed by a night ofleadership training, followed by a comeback event, followed by another night of leadershiptraining and then another preview service. The goal is to string between 3-6 months of “W’s”together in order to have a large grand opening. Below is the “Working the W” Strategy:
The “W Strategy” for Preview Services Preview Service Preview Service Comeback Event Leadership Leadership Training TrainingHighlighting 5 Groundbreaking Church Plants Each of the church planters below launched large churches within the EFCA West Districtwithin the last 4 years. Each planter went through the A,B,C’s of our District’s training:Assessment, Boot Camp and Coaching. Our assessment is a full day behavioral assessment ofthe potential planter and his spouse, boot camp is 5 full days of training and coaching ongoing.Meet Ryan Kwon
Ryan Kwon planted Resonate Church in Fremont, CA, less than three years ago. Ryan was ateaching pastor at Bridges Community Church when he felt God call him to start Resonate. Theelders and the staff of Bridges fully supported the new work and Ryan was able to gather over100 people from the mother church to be in his core group. Resonate is a gospel centered churchand feels called to become a catalyst that provokes a missional movement to bring wholeness totheir city for Jesus Christ. At my request, Ryan attended the Exponential Conference in Orlando in 2010. It was at thatconference that he felt God calling him to start a church. Resonate Church believes in lovingtheir city and participates in many servant evangelism projects. In fact, the church calls itself, “Achurch for the city.” They began holding public services at Oliveira Elementary School andmembers of the church did a workday to improve the public school. At a result, many of the teachers from that school and some of the administration from theschool district attended Resonate’s first preview service. Resonate held 3 preview services. Attheir first preview service they had 170 people (140 adults and 30 kids). On their launch Sunday(Grand Opening) they had 390 people (350 adults and 40 kids). The church is committed toreaching the unchurched with the gospel and last year baptized 99 people! Resonate Churchlaunched large and continues to grow. This healthy church is now averaging over 700 peopleeach Sunday and has plans to launch many new churches in the near future beginning in 2013when the church will be three years old.
Meet Mark Lee Mark Lee planted Vantage Point Church in Eastvale, CA four years ago, Mark was anassociate pastor at the EV Free Church in Diamond Bar when the lead pastor, Mark Hopper, felttheir church needed to plant a new church in Eastvale. Mark felt God calling him to be the manto start a new church for a new community. Mark gathered about 40 people in his core groupwho went with him from the mother church to start Vantage Point. They started the church by asking God a question, “Can a group of people doing simple actsof kindness really make a difference in a community?” The church began doing random acts ofkindness toward residents in the community. They handed out thousands of bottles of water,washed cars, hauled away trash to the dumpster, did a gas buy downs and paid for coffee for theperson behind them in the drive through line at Starbucks! The goal was to show people the loveof God in a tangible way. This is a church that seeks to love people into the Kingdom of God -they have a real heart for the unchurched. I began coaching Mark about 6 months prior to their launch. We developed a strategy tolaunch large by combining servant evangelism and direct mail. Mark said, “We knew going intoit that the 200 barrier is the hardest barrier for a church to break so we tried to get the biggestrunning start we could for our launch.” The church did a large direct mailout to every residencein Eastvale, about 20,000 homes. At their first preview they had 220 people, a tremendous start. The church did a total of 5previews and then launched with 353 people a month before Easter. They intentionally launcheda month prior to Easter in order to network many of the friends of those who came to theirlaunch. The strategy worked as Vantage Point Church had 414 people for their first EasterSunday just one month after the launch. At their first baptism they baptized 53 new believers and
have since baptized a few hundred people. Today, Vantage Point Church has over 1,000 peopleattending each weekend and recently had over 2,000 on an Easter Sunday.Meet Jeremy McGarity I first met Jeremy McGarity, a former pro baseball player turned pastor, at a NEXT CoachingNetwork for new church plants that I led at Saddleback Church a few years ago. At the timeJeremy was an associate pastor at High Desert Church in Victorville, CA. Jeremy came to thecoaching network because he was considering planting a church. Jeremy moved to San Diego,CA about a year later to begin Seven San Diego Church. Why the name? Seven is the perfectnumber in the Bible. The number 7 represents “completeness.” The church’s mission to takebroken people and bring them to completeness through Christ. Jeremy gathered about 50 people who moved from Victorville to San Diego to help him startthe church but the majority of this initial core group moved back to Victorville primarily forfinancial reasons. The church used creative advertising including a large direct mail campaignand billboard advertising. The church also utilizes an “oikos” evangelism strategy; an approachJeremy learned from Tom Mercer, his former pastor at High Desert Church. The church did 4preview services in total with a huge first preview of 261 people – some of which just came forthe day from Jeremy’s old church. They launched with 221 people four months later. This church is really doing a great job in reaching the unchurched in the Lakeside community,a suburb of San Diego. Their slogan is, “No perfect people allowed.” Just four years old, SevenSan Diego Church has breezed by some significant church growth barriers and is now averagingover 800 people on Sunday mornings in three worship services and had over 1,400 last Easter.
Meet Matt Larson Matt Larson planted Anthem Church three years ago in Thousand Oaks, CA. Matt was aStudent Pastor at EV Free Conejo Church in Newbury Park, CA. Matt interned under DaveFerguson and the New Thing Network in Chicago for nearly one year. This was crucial indeveloping a passion for reproduction. Matt, more than any of our planters gets it – that we aretrying to plant churches that plant churches. Anthem’s slogan is “Helping people find their wayback to God.” Anthem Church utilized social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter to draw people to theirchurch. They also did a direct mailout for their grand opening but not for any of their previews.Anthem Church did four preview services and had a little over 200 at their first preview andlaunched with a little over 300 on their grand opening. Anthem Church has seen many peoplecome to Christ over the last three years, many baptized, and many leaders developed. The churchis averaging 350 people each Sunday morning. What is unique about this church is that they have now planted two daughter churches in justthree years! Reproduction is in their DNA. They started Anthem Church Camarillo with pastorKevin Bailey when they were just 18 months old as a church. Kevin launched with 153 people.Then just a month ago they started Restored Church in Mission Valley (San Diego) with pastorAndy Rodgers. Andy launched with 203 people. This is unprecedented within the EFCA but I believe it will become a model for future EFCAchurch plants! Some may think its impossible for a new church to plant another church in thatshort of time but as Jesus said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things arepossible!”2020 Matthew 19:26
I compare this to Roger Banister breaking the 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954. Nobody hadever run a sub 4-minute mile. Most believed it was impossible. Some even thought a runnersheart would burst if they tried. Banister believed he could do it and the rest is history. As aresult, in less than two years, 37 other runners ran a sub 4-minute mile. I believe this is what weare going to see in the EFCA! I believe we will see many of our EFCA church plants and futureplants reproducing churches when they are only one, two, or three years old! This will somedayresult in multiplication.Meet Brad Hixon Brad Hixon planted Compass Church Surprise in Surprise, AZ less than a year ago. Thischurch is a multi-site church and a daughter church of Compass Church in Goodyear, AZ whereTim Jacobs is the lead pastor. Tim is a church planter and his dream is to establish a churchplanting center out of his church. This is Compass Church’s first church plant and it’s going verywell. Brad came to Compass Church three years ago. He was very successful as a businessman inthe marketplace but felt God calling him into full-time Christian ministry. He startedvolunteering at Compass and Pastor Tim brought him on staff full-time. When the churchneeded a campus pastor to start and run the new multi-site church Brad stepped up. Brad
gathered a core group of about 50 people from the mother church. At their first preview servicethey had 60 people and on their launch Sunday in February of this year they had 180 people.They followed that up with over 200 people for their first Easter Sunday. They are less than ayear old and are currently running 160 people each Sunday morning. The church has a livevideo feed of Pastor Tim on a big screen, a live worship band and Brad as the campus pastor. Ithink multi-site churches are the wave of the future. We (EFCA West) have started two multi-sitechurches this year and plan to start many more in the near future.Meet Joby Martin - The Largest Launch of All I first met Joby at an Exponential Conference in Orlando. He came to a workshop I taught onLaunching Large. Joby planted The Church of Eleven22, which began as an alternative worshipservice offered at Beach United Methodist Church. Joby came to Beach UMC as the church’sStudent Pastor, later became their executive pastor, and then was sent out as a church planter.The name for the church came from the time of the original service (11:22 AM) but also reflectsMark 11:22 “And Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God.’” Since then the story of The Church ofEleven22 has been an adventure of faith and God’s faithfulness. After experiencing explosivegrowth in that service, Beach UMC and the Eleven22 team decided to birth a newinterdenominational church that is unapologetically committed to walking through the Scripturesverse-by-verse, calling people to engage in passionate worship, while remaining absolutelycommitted to reaching out to and including people who are unchurched or de-churched. TheChurch of Eleven22 is non-denominational in structure but is also part of the Acts 29 Network. Joby hired me as a coach a year before the new church was started to coach him through thelaunching large process. The Church of Eleven22 had grown to a core group of 1000 people
over a four-year period. The people in the core group were the people attending the services ledby Joby at Beach UMC. With the help of the mother church, The Church of Eleven22 was able torent and renovate an abandoned Wal-Mart centrally located in Jacksonville, FL. A building thatwas formerly known for saving money was now known for saving souls. Wal-Mart is famous forit’s greeters but now the greeters are volunteers from a church welcoming people into theKingdom of God. We developed a timeline and set some huge goals over a year period and the church launchedwith over 3,000 people on their Grand Opening! On their first Easter they had 5,595 people!WHAT DO THESE LARGE CHURCHES HAVE IN COMMON? (23 Characteristics)Below are 23 Characteristics of Large Launch churches. A common denominator of the churchesI profiled is that they emulate most, if not all, of the characteristics listed below:1. Large Launch churches are led by strong leaders with extraordinary faith –men andwomen who are not afraid to trust God for big things. They are willing launch large, riskmuch and go out on a limb in order to see fruit. “If you can explain what is going on then Goddidn’t do it!”212. Large Launch churches feel their primary purpose for existing is to reach unchurchedpeople with the gospel. They have a burning passion to reach unchurched people. They have adeep conviction that lost people matter to God and need to be found. They are not trying to reach21 Warren W. Wiersbe, On Being a Servant of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 16.
existing Christians who attend other churches. They also have a deep conviction in the power ofthe gospel to change lives.3. Large Launch churches have a clearly defined target group of people they are trying toreach. You usually reach people just like you when you start a church – it’s called the“homogeneous principle.” Most planters are young so they reach young people. These plantersrealize they can’t reach everyone so they target certain groups that they can reach best. But asthe church grows you are in a great position to reach all kinds of people. The Apostle Paul feltcalled to reach Gentiles and targeted this group.4. Large Launch churches use contemporary music that is relevant to the community theyare reaching. Most of the churches I profiled resemble going to a rock concert. The music isloud and jamming but also very meaningful to those attending.5. Large Launch churches seek to do everything in an excellent way. From the music to thepreaching, to the children’s ministry to the choice of coffee on Sunday morning.6. Large Launch churches value innovation. They are open to experimenting with new ideasto reach people and improve ministries. They are not afraid to fail. They view failure as a friendand not an enemy - they see it as an education.7. Large Launch churches start with a team. All of the churches profiled had preselected aworship leader, some paid and some volunteer, to help them launch the church. Effectivepreaching and excellent worship music are the bread and butter for a new plant. Each of thechurches profiled also started with either a paid or volunteer secretary. Seven San Diego,Anthem Church and Eleven22 each started with a full-time associate pastor as well. You can starta church with just you and your wife and kids but I greatly encourage starting with a team.8. Large Launch churches develop a large core group – usually between 25-75 before theyhave their first preview services. Starting from scratch is still an effective way to start a churchbut as Director of Church Planting I much prefer to start churches that have the support of amother church.9. Large Launch churches usually have between 3-6 previews before they launch. Theyespecially emphasize the first preview as being the most important one.
10. Large Launch churches have fun accomplishing their mission! People enjoy coming tothese churches. They celebrate Jesus and have fun participating in ministry together.11. Large Launch churches have a mother church birthing them and supporting them.Each of the churches profiled had a mother church that helped them in significant ways.12. Large Launch church planters exhibit “Page’s 15 Characteristics” of large launchpastors that I described earlier in the eBook.13. Large Launch churches utilize nice rented buildings to meet in. Each of the churchesprofiled started out of schools – elementary, intermediate and high schools, with the exception ofAnthem church that started out of California Lutheran University and Eleven 22 that started outof a Wal-Mart. Each location has a nice appearance, is fairly new and is easily accessible. Mosteverybody in the community is familiar with where the meeting place is located in town.14. Large Launch Churches love their cities. These churches serve their communities throughservant evangelism projects. They seek to be a blessing to the community and to make the worlda better place.15. Large Launch churches look for people who are receptive to reach. Vantage PointChurch planted a new church in a new community. These churches realize that people are veryopen to spiritual things when under tension or in transition. Jeremy, Brad and Matt all dostrategic weddings for unchurched couples to reach them for Christ.16. Large Launch churches understand their identity and do a good job branding andmarketing their church. These churches utilize demographic studies, killer websites, socialmedia and direct mail. These churches know who they are and who they can and cannot reach.17. Large Launch churches utilize technology. They use computers, iPads, video, in theiroffices and in their services. Each pastor profiled uses an iPads to preach with and microsetheadset microphones that clip on your ear and give superior performance. Each church profiledalso utilizes portable church equipment, great sound systems, video screens and flat screen TV’s.18. Large Launch churches value children’s ministry. This is usually a signature ministry forour new large churches and something each one of our 5 EFCA West churches emulate.
19. Large Launch churches are praying churches. Prayer shows that your dependency is onGod and his resources and not your own.20. Large Launch churches have excellent communicators that teach biblical and practicalmessages geared toward the felt needs of people. They believe the Bible is the Word of God,teach it in a loving yet truthful manner, knowing that it does not return void but changes lives.21. Large Launch churches are generous and unselfish. Each of the churches profiled aregenerous to those in the community and look for ways to serve others and financially blessothers. Anthem Church gave away their first offering to another new church. They also raisednearly $30,000 to bring fresh water to a tribe in Africa.22. Large Launch churches are led by pastors who are lifelong learners. These churchplanters listen to their coaches and learn all they can. They seek out mentors to help them growand they learn from one another through coaching networks and pastor clusters.23. Large Launch churches have a value reproduction in every area in the church’sministry and in terms of planting new churches. Anthem Church and Resonate Church havealready planted daughter churches and Eleven22 is in the planning process to launch a newchurch.SECRETS OF CHURCH PLANTINGWhat are some secrets about church planting? The list below are key learnings from plantingthree different churches: 1. Love everyone, but move with the movers. 2. Learn from practitioners not personalities. 3. Understand the principle of scaffolding. 4. Don’t focus on numbers, focus on trends. 5. Enlist a coach for the journey. 6. Fight your way to the fringe. 7. Don’t surrender the vision. 8. Learn to assimilate on the run. 9. Church planting is a team sport.
10. Learn to ride the emotional roller coaster that is church planting.TOP TEN MISTAKES CHURCH PLANTERS MAKEI launched my first church at the age of 28, pastored it for 8 years, launched my second church atage 37, pastored it for 10 years and launched my third church in my mid 40‘s. I made a lot ofmistakes in the process. Oscar Wilde wrote, “Experience is the name that everyone gives theirmistakes”… And how right he was! I hope and pray that you will gain the benefit of myexperience and that it will help you avoid making some painful mistakes. Below is my list of theTop 10 Mistakes Planters Make: 1. Forming a leadership team too quickly. 2. Not taking care of yourself and your family. 3. Not teaching about money. 4. Not taking believers deeper. 5. Acting arrogantly. 6. Listening to the wrong people. 7. Lack of leadership development. 8. Being married to a model (methodology). 9. Misfiring on hiring. 10. Refusing to dream big.SUMMARYWHY PLANT NEW CHURCHES? Jesus’ essential call was to plant churches.22 “The Great Commission is not just a call to“make disciples” but to “baptize” them as well, which means to incorporate them into a church.Paul’s strategy was to plant churches in strategic cities. The evidence is overwhelming thatstarting new churches is best means for reaching unchurched people with the gospel of JesusChrist. Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gainsmost of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending anyworshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members bytransfer from other congregations.”23 This means that the average new congregation will bring22 Matthew 28:18-2023 Lyle Schaller, Church Growth Strategies That Work (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980), 100.
6-8 times more new people into the life of the church than an older congregation of the samesize. I think this is why C. Peter Wagner describes church planting as “the single most effectiveevangelistic methodology under heaven.”24 Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Churchand church planting advocate said, “ The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations isthe single most crucial strategy for the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, andthe continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else - notcrusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregationalconsulting, nor church renewal processes - will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensivechurch planting.”25WHY LAUNCH LARGE WHEN PLANTING A CHURCH? God desires for all people to be saved. “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone toperish, but everyone to come to repentance.”26 Jesus said, “Go out to the roads and country lanesand make them come in, so that my house will be full.”27 Large Launch churches are set onreaching large numbers of people with the gospel. The heart of God is to see his lost people found. The stories of the lost coin, sheep and sonin Luke 15 are compelling. God wants his lost sheep (people) found and his prodigals to returnhome! The shepherd is willing to leave the 99 to find the one that is lost. Launching large is anall out rescue for lost people to help them find their way back to God – not just one by one but infamilies and in large groups of people through “oikos” evangelism. We must then incorporatethese we reach into the Body of Christ and this is what Large Launch churches do. God is a sending God. Jesus said, “I came to seek and to save the lost.”28 “Missio Dei” is aLatin Christian theological term that can be translated as the “mission of God,” or the “sendingof God.” Mission is understood as being derived from the very nature of God. The missionaryinitiative comes from God alone. Large Launch churches are missional at their very core. They24 C. Peter Wagner, Strategies for Growth (Glendale, CA: Regal, 1987), 168.25 Tim Keller, Why Plant Churches”, article published in 2002.26 2 Peter 3:927 Luke 14:2328 Luke 19:10
exist for the sake of those who are not part of the church. Their primary mission is to reach thelost. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”29 The Early church launched large. We see the launching large methodology used by God tobirth the first church in Jerusalem. Jesus selected 12 disciples and then gathered a large coregroup of 120 people who waited on God to move. This resulted in Peter preaching the gospel and3,000 people being saved and incorporated into the church in one day! Talk about a large launch!I recently coached a church planter named Joby Martin who launched large in Jacksonville, FL.Joby’s church, Church at Eleven 22, bought an abandoned Wal-Mart and reached out into the citywith a large core group. They had 3,300 people attend their launch in the new building. Theyliterally rocked the city of Jacksonville that day! We have the technology to reach out in new ways to reach people that were not available ageneration ago. Why not harness that technology for God by launching large churches? Practically speaking, launching large enables a church to reach more people for Christinitially and in the long run. Hundreds of people can be reached in just a few short months ofpreview services and a grand opening. Ed Stetzer, author of “Planting Missional Churches,” said,“Most churches today start with a large launch … seven out of ten people in attendance at the(large) launch service are typically unbelievers without church experience.”30 And he said,“Church planters have learned that a public (large) launch is most effective.”31 By launching large, churches can blow by church growth barriers very quickly, especiallythe dreaded 200 barrier. It’s a great momentum builder Nearly 90 % of churches never breakthrough the 200 barrier. We see many of our churches doing this routinely. By launching large churches become financially sustainable must faster. Most of ourEFCA West churches that launch large become financially sustainable within two years, some inless than a year. Launching large gives the leader credibility. Gaining credibility is a great challenge for anew church planter. When a church grows it builds momentum and translates into credibility inthe eyes of the people attending – especially when it grows beyond 200 people in the first orsecond year.29 John 20:2130 Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 25831 Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 259
And maybe the biggest reason to launch large, churches can reproduce much sooner thana typical church plant of under 100 people because they have greater resources and morepeople to do so. Hopefully this can lead to a church planting movement of reproducing churches! The bottom line is, churches that start small normally stay small and churches that launchlarge normally keep on growing.THE END
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