During the first year or two of a church plant, there are some very clear priorities, and you should have a plan to demonstrate how you are going to execute those activities. Why, because once you get into the church planting mode you will not have time plan in detail.
Your primary objectives will be (there will of course be others):
1. A programme of gathering people and starting small groups – that is meeting and gathering of new people, and it will involve events, evangelism, and discipleship of new converts.
a. Key Phrase to memorise - (Gather gather gather)
2. Communicate the vision – be prepared to keep repeating yourself. People need to hear it at least four or five times before it takes root, then they are on the same page as you.
a. Key Phrase to memorise - (vision vision vision)
3. Develop Leaders - No church grows beyond its leaders and their ability to develop, themselves and new leaders. (IRTDMN)
a. Key phrase to memorise (Leaders leaders leaders)
4. Find resources – This is primarily about teaching people that churches require resources and teaching them to give and practice generosity of time and money is essential (modelled by the leader)
a. Key phrase to memorise - (Give give give)
The temptations and pitfalls of that first period.
1. To start Sundays too early, it is often a tempting way to gather Christians, but you will not have the access to them on a Sunday as you do with growing a church through small groups where there is greater opportunity for discipleship and communication. Also they often come with unhelpful expectations and issues. Sundays take a lot of resource which is better used on other things in the early days. Small groups allow you a better vehicle for spotting and developing leaders and communicating vision.
2. Unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved during this early period. Church planting is exciting but there is a temptation to try and build too fast. It is God who builds the church, so take your time and build well. Pace yourself, this I not a sprint, but a marathon.
3. You will have moments of both joy and despair. It can be an emotional roller coaster When you have a plan with milestones you can have an objective perspective as to how you are doing with your plan and milestones as you measure against it, and not live life on your emotions.
4. To do a plan and then ignore or deviate too much, yes you can modify your plan with good reason, but so many church planters don’t bother either to follow or update their plans.
5. Not praying and listening to God, they are both essential, prayer changes everything, it releases the resources of heaven upon the earth.
6. Releasing leaders too fast. Release leaders slowly and train and monitor them as you go along. You must learn to feedback to developing leaders, mainly with with affirmation but also constructive correction.
Now to the plan itself - keep it simple
The easiest format is to pick your key priorities and simply describe what you might do week by week to achieve these and in the milestone column write down what the milestone of achievement(s) might be for that week if there is some.
So, for example tasks for week 1:
Gathering - Plan next 8 weeks gathering events.
Vision - think of ways to communicate the vision – short memorable phrases
Leaders – Pray about the leaders I need in the first year or two.
Resources – Investigate banks accounts and bookkeeping, and budget.
MILESTONE: This might be: Have a clear plan for next 8 weeks gathering activities.
Then you look at week 2 and so on and so forth. It is a time-consuming process. It requires a lot of planning and thought but a problem solved at the planning stage is 5 times more efficient than solving it in reality.
I would do at least the first 18 months like this, week by week. Some of your milestones might be something like this.
Number of Leaders identified / trained.
Number of small groups
Number of Alphas
Level of Giving