[My blog is increasingly narrowing its focus to help pastors. Sorry to "bait and switch" some of my earlier readers. Thanks for following my past posts on issues of shame, faith, and forgiveness. But I feel the need to encourage a group of people who often find themselves very alone: pastors.]
I offered to answer questions from a group of church planters on Facebook (Pastor Resources) about how to get their churches up and running. I started Cedarbrook Church with a group of 20 people back in 2003. I don’t pretend to know all the answers. But I’m happy to share what I know.
First Question: What has been the most effective way to gather a launch team?
Five Ways to Gather Your Church Launch Team
1. Perfect Pitch: Before I was in ministry I was in sales. The same principle applies to church planters as well as salespeople: you have to be fully convinced that your product is something people need and what you have to offer is the best thing available. If you don’t have that down, people will smell it a mile away and you’ll lose them in one meeting.
Perfecting Your Elevator Speech
I’m not just talking about the message of Jesus. That’s a given. Hopefully every church has that. I’m talking about the vision you have for church. Why should people make the HUGE sacrifice of coming to your underfunded church start-up with less to offer than the church down the street?
You not only need to have an answer but you need to communicate it in a clear, concise, and compelling way. Maybe you’ve heard of an “elevator speech.” That’s the 45 seconds you have to tell someone on an elevator why they should buy your product. That’s what every church planter needs to perfect. That’s where it all starts.
It’s okay to stumble around with a few of your closest friends as you develop your “pitch.” But when you are serious about going public with your idea for a church, you need to have it down. People will follow you IF they see you are not only passionate but that you have a VISION for a dynamic church AND A PLAN on how to get you there. You only get one chance for a first impression!
I bet you were looking for cool events to offer! Once you have a compelling story to tell, then just about any event will do what you need it to do. You’ll start attracting people because they will see they you have something that they want…something that is life-changing…something to live for.
2. Start Talking. The second tip is just start talking to people. Then talk to their friends. Once these people catch what you’ve got, ask them to either host a get together to hear your story, or YOU host a get together and ask your friends to invite their friends. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Make it easy in and easy out. Buy lunch or coffee or beer or pizza for a few friends. No pressure. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t bore them! Leave them wanting more.
Keep it up. Keep momentum going. The more people you talk to the more people who will catch the vision. As people see the numbers growing it will add to the excitement.
3. Offer Next Steps. Third tip, offer a next step. As you meet people, ask them if you can keep them updated by putting them on your email list. Then send out a weekly or bi-weekly update and have great events planned for people to come to.
I will offer a post on emails and websites soon. But for now let me just say that your emails and website should be as awesome as you can make them. Not flashy, but attractive, clear and compelling. People will judge you and your dream on what you show them. If you show them a poorly crafted email or website, they’ll know that the church will probably look the same.
4. Create Engaging Followup Events. Some events should be just get-togethers to build community. Other events should have a spiritual focus to show that you are someone who can help people know and follow God. And other events might be for strategy and planning. This will draw out the doers. Don’t overwhelm people. But you want them to see that this is not just some lofty idea. This train is building steam and is about to leave the station!
5. Make the Big Ask. Final tip, when people have come out to your meetings for a while, take them out for coffee and ASK THEM to join the launch team. Tell them that you need them to make your church happen and why you believe that is. Asking people affirms them. It’s the difference between dating and being engaged. You want to help them define the relationship. You want them to move beyond casual to committed.
If you do these five things well, you will build a team. But you need to give it your best shot. You are starting something from scratch. That’s nearly impossible UNLESS God is moving on your behalf AND you give it your best.
I’ve got three more questions in queue to answer but feel free to send me more.