Lessons Learned in My First Two Years of Planting

2013 SEND Conference

Imago Dei went from a few friends in a living room to multiple services squeezing into an auditorium every Sunday. Tony and the other pastors on his staff learned seventeen invaluable lessons for planting a new church, and many of these will apply to churches of any age. Listen closely and be prepared to take notes for this thorough discussion of church planting strategy. 

Tony gave seventeen great ideas for establishing a church plant. For this training, review these lessons below and pause to think at the interjected questions. They are written for a new church planter, but if you are part of an established congregation, answer these as evaluations of your current methods and practice.

1. Success is by the Grace of God
2. There is Joy, Freedom and Challenge in Christ Centered Church

Even though you must plan and work on your own, what will your church do to keep you dependent on the Lord's grace and focused on Christ's hand in your work?
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3. Plant with a Team of Pastors

What is your biggest deficiency concerning the work of ministry, and how will you ask your pastoral team to help you in this regard?
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In choosing your team, Tony said to look for theology, philosophy, relational harmony and competency. What are your requirements for a pastoral candidate concerning each of these?
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4. Invest in a Core Team Early
5. Begin Small Groups Early
6. Develop Leaders for Multiplication Early

How do you envision small groups working in your church? What role will they play in your culture, and how will you train and prepare the leaders of these groups?
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7. Set Clear Expectations for Potential Members
8. Plant the Church You've Always Wanted to Belong To

Tony described a rigorous membership process, but how will your church graft in new members? Is this something you would want to be a part of if you were not working at the church?
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9. Do Not Give Away Leadership Too Quickly
10. Teach the Church to be Missionaries
11. Supporters Will Surprise You

When you think of every member of the church having his or her own mission, how do you envision that mission playing out in their daily lives? How will you communicate this vision?
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12. Lead From the Pulpit
13. Remain Sensitive to the Unchurched as You Grow
14. Prepare for Growth Early
15. Do Not be Surprised When People Leave

How will you lead from the pulpit, and what are two or three specific areas in which you will lead this way?
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16. Rest and Retreat
17. Build Prayer into the Heart of Your Church

How will prayer be a normal daily part of the life of your church?
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After hearing the great attention to detail from the Imago Dei pastors and staff, it's not surprising that they had such a successful first two years. However, as Tony reminded us, every bit of their success, even in their own planning and work, must be attributed to God's grace. Steward your church plant with the best you have to offer, but saturate all things in a constant dependence on Christ and his gospel.