Continuing this series of posts from a lunch I had with a new church planter this week here was another thing I was thankful for. I was exposed to the Launching Large concept before we started getting into the nuts and bolts of the plant.
Basically there are two main schools of thought for starting a church. One is gathering up group of core people and you then build into them for a year or more until everyone has bought into the vision, knows what you believe, is trained in various roles, and you have a tight knit group of people. From this core group you then try to start some "public" services on Sunday mornings or maybe on Saturday night as a soft start. The challenge in this is human nature. You sit around and build this close core group for a year and then it is very hard to then get those people to turn outward again. Then once you do get going the church is not like what they thought it was going to be so they bolt 90% of the time within the first year (if the church makes it that long).
The other school of thought is to launch. You gather a launch team of people and you meet for maybe 6 - months at the most! For us at the Suncoast we met only 5 times before we held our first preview service! So you gather a team and the team's goal is to launch a fully functional church from day one. So most of your time is spent learning tasks and casting a vision to reach out and get as many people to come as you can. Then you hold a series of preview services where you meet then take a week or two off, then have another one, then take a week or two off then after maybe 4 preview services you launch the church. At the Suncoast we went from our first launch team meeting in December 2005 to our launch date in April of 2006! That is 4-months! The goal is to get people focused outward and create critical mass from the beginning. They used to talk about launching with over 100 people as a good base for success.
The point is you are going to lose most of your team or core anyway. That is just the way it is. So why focus all that time and energy inward when it could be used to get a crowd.
That is the rough outline I gave my friend Charlie on Monday and if you want more info head to the grand poobah of Launching Large (Nelson Searcy) here:
Launching Large Book