A lot of church planters have an obvious question about leading a launch team, and I’m surprised that there aren’t more resources available for it- “What do I do during my launch team meetings?”
My plan has been to take our first five weeks to work through Adam Hamilton’s three questions for church plants (from Leading Beyond the Walls). They help you define your church’s theology and specific call and distinctives:
- Why do people need Jesus? (1 week)
- Why do people need the Church (universal)? (1 week)
- Why do people need this church (the one you’re planting)? (3 weeks)
I feel like I know the individuals on the launch team fairly well because I’ve been building relationships with them for a few months. So, I assumed that our team was ready to jump into question one last night… and then it happened.:)
I started with an icebreaker game that went okay, but even as the game ended, I could tell that there was an elephant in the room. I had the feeling of having to try too hard, and it seemed like we weren’t really connecting the way I wanted to as a launch team. There was just a feeling that I was jumping ahead.
Looking back on it, I should have expected this, but I didn’t, and maybe this blog post will give someone else a heads up.
After the icebreaker game, I thought about what to do for about 5 seconds that seemed like an eternity. I decided to scrap my entire plan for the night and asked this question,
“What are your fears about starting a new church?”
Two hours later…:)
It was a phenomenal discussion. The first person to share was a very kind-natured young wife and mom who respectfully shared that she was concerned about tithing. Her honesty broke the ice (for real), and it set the tone for a very honest and healthy discussion about our launch team’s fears.
Different people brought up fears like- unmet expectations and disappointment, the pressure of leadership, the time commitments needed to start a church, and ultimately, that the church plant would fail.
It was probably the most honest meeting I’ve ever had in 10 years of full-time ministry.
In hindsight, it makes perfect sense to me, but I wish I would have intentionally planned this discussion for our first night. Essentially, it’s not 1995 anymore when you could plant a church, and as long as it had contemporary music, it would work. Lots of church plants have failed since then.
Our launch team is aware that a few church plants in our area have failed. They see mega churches who have the suburban family entertainment model of church down to a science. Church planting is actually being replaced by these same mega churches opening multi-site campuses.
Your first launch team meeting probably needs to allow your people to honestly express their fears, and then you need to honestly and realistically address them without defensiveness. If you can’t tell people why your church is needed, you’re not ready to plant anyway.
Intelligent people know that church planting is a high risk sport, and until you acknowledge this, it will be the elephant in the room.