I planted my first church in 1989. We had 178 people show up for our first service. It was amazing and largely unheard of. Launching large was a new phenomenon. It wasn’t long until everyone was launching large. Some churches even boasted to drawing opening day crowds of 400 to 500 people. Churches sprang up everywhere. At the same time many of them did not survive. At best most of these churches that launched with a large crowd grew down by 50 to 60 percent. Others bottomed out with only a small core group, gaining almost no new grown. Still others vanished off the landscape of church planting all together.
In 1996 I had a conversation with a leadership guru that changed the way I planted churches. I asked Lyle Schaller to critique our church planting methods. At the time I was working for a large church planting organization. His response was simple, but profound. “David all you church planters are alike. Your driven by calendar, when you should be driven by milestones. Over lunch with a small group of us church planters he went on to describe his five critical milestones.
I was blown away. I understood now why many of our churches even though they had a successful launched failed to survive beyond the two-year mark, while others existed for years, but never experienced health. Achieving critical milestones are essential to planting a healthy missional church.
What are these milestones? Because our context vary so might these milestones, but here is the list of the ones that are absolutely critical to planting a healthy missional church.
1. Preparation…Am I ready?
2. Context…Do I have the place?
3. Resources…Do I have enough money?
4. Team…Do I have the people?
5. Vision…Do I have the plan?
6. Cultivate…Have I networked my community?
7. Launch…Am I ready to go public?
8. Connect…Am I ready to make disciples?
Each of these milestones is dealt with in detail in my Launching Large: Milestones for Planting Missional Churches workshop. I will be presenting this workshop during our upcoming Velocity Conference on February 22 – 23, 2010 during the pre-conference sessions. Our conference is hosted by Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, Georgia (North Atlanta). Join Rick Warren, Ed Young, Steven Furtick, Dave Gibbons, Alan Hirsch, Shawn Lovejoy, Larry Osborne, Pete Wilson, Darrin Patrick, Matt Carter, Will Mancini, Hugh Halter, Shawn King, Brian Bloye, and many more. For more information or to register today go to www.churchplanters.com.