Ever since I have been involved in church planting, I have heard you need to develop a core group, or in these days a launch team. These people come alongside you, help get your church plant going and help with various ministries in the church. Hundreds of church planters, myself included, had gathered a core group or team and used them to help start a church.
Well, today, I say, “Stop!”
If you think I have flipped, hear me out. When it comes to a core group or launch team, most church planters instantly start gathering Christian friends or acquaintances to be part of their group. They begin talking about the vision and the values of the new church. They start dreaming and talking about what the new church looks like and the various ministries that they are going to have in place. However, this group often neglects one important factor of church planting: impacting the lostness of their community by making disciples.
Often the core group or launch team focuses so much on starting a gathering that they miss gathering the lost. I have fallen into this very trap. We emphasize that the gathering will impact lostness by bringing people to our worship service where they can hear the Gospel.
On the other hand, I propose that church planters need to gather a team of missionaries. This means training your friends, acquaintances and others who join you to make disciples. If you have 10 people committed to this and they reach two lost people each and disciple them, you would have 20 new disciples of Jesus. If each of those 20 were to reach two, that would equal 40, plus the original 10, which equals 50. What happens is multiplication!
Now this is not the same as having a launch service and seeing 100 to 150 people show up for your gathering. However, how many of those will stay with your gathering? How many will become missionaries reaching others for Christ?
Am I saying never have a launch service? No. What I am saying is that what you start with is what your church plant will be. If you are building up to a gathering or a public service, then most likely you will gather spectators. If you start out being a missionary training others to be missionaries to reach others to become disciples and then missionaries, then you have a church plant that has making disciples/missionaries as part of its DNA.
Lewis McMullen is the Church Planting Specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. Lewis has served as a lead church planter, associational church planting strategist and has coached, trained and assessed hundreds of church planters from all over the U.S. You can contact Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @docmac45 or Facebook.