There are really about a thousand ways you can start a church. Some (in my opinion) are good and some, well, not so great. To tip my hand a little, anything involving clowns, carnies or pyrotechnics is bad. What follows is not some breakthrough model for church planting. What follows is simply an explanation of the approach we are taking to start Eternal Rock.
Before we get into too many details, some general church planting principles ought to be laid out. First, it is generally good to start a church in the fall because many people are settling down into some routines after a busy/distracted summer. Second, if you are going to write about planting your church, make sure you use exaggerated blog titles that make it sound like you are about to send something to Mars. Third, in this day and age, it makes some sense to get to know/serve a community first and launch second.
Up until this point, our primary goal has been to locate mission-minded WELS members who would like to help our effort. It is not that we don’t care about the unchurched, but instead we figure we can best serve and reach the unchurched in the future if we strengthen our core group. To help us align, we chose to go through the book Essential Church. The book is not gospel truth, but it did provide some great points for discussion. It looks like we have just over 20 adults who are committed to our efforts and excited to help make it happen.
Prelaunch I (January-May)
Starting in January, our primary goals will move towards the planning aspects of launching a church. This will be divided up into two types of meetings: Launch and Planning.
During the Launch meeting, we will be sharing the Eternal Rock mission: “Follow Jesus: Live Love.” The first meeting will cover the mission of Jesus and in turn our mission as a church. During successive monthly meetings, we will be explaining and expanding each of the parts. For example, “Follow Jesus” would mean follow Jesus through worship and by studying His Word. During the meetings, we will discuss/present what this will look like at our new church. Anyone who may want to be involved is invited to these meetings. The first is January 16th at 4:00pm at the Castle Oaks Church (across from Nike) in the Castle Rock Outlet Mall.
If you think of the launch meetings as casting a vision for the new church, the planning meetings will focus on the business end of launching a church. Couples and individuals will be encouraged to focus on either worship, outreach, education, or service as we get ready to have our first preview service in May. If the Launch meetings focus on what it will look like, the planning meetings will focus on what it will take to make it happen.
Prelaunch II (May-August)
During this time we will be holding worship once each month. The weeks between preview services will allow us time to follow-up on guests and make any necessary changes (location, timing, equipment, etc.). This is also a time when we will start to emphasize outreach and service to the community. Not only will we have something to invite people to (worship), but we will also be mobilized to do some things in the community.
Launch (September 2011)
Sometime after Labor Day we will launch our weekly services. The idea is that by this service date and with the help of the preview services, we will have the location, signage, welcome, timing, equipment, etc, ready so we can focus our greatest efforts on reaching those who are far from God.