Saturday - Feb 18, 2012


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According to some studies as few as one in five new churches will survive past their second anniversary.

The mortality rate of baby churches is alarming. According to some studies as few as one in five new churches will survive past their second anniversary. Why is this? Well, the pathway to success in any endeavour has many potential pitfalls and wrong turns. In church planting there are probably more things that could go wrong than right! A weak or unprepared leader, lack of resources, conflict within and resistance from without can all undermine the best efforts. And yet, with so much opportunity for things to fall apart, many survive and thrive. What is their secret?

After a dozen church plants, here are some of the secret ingredients we’ve found that can help push a good plan over the edge into a runaway success:

1. Timing. You can do everything else right, but if it’s the wrong timing – you’re sunk. This could mean its not the best time for the target community you are considering. Factors on the ground – such as a recent church-related scandal – could poison the attitude of the community towards any new church initiative. It has to be good timing for the supporting organization too. Going ahead when there is not enough financial or moral support in place could be a fatal mistake. But most of all, the timing has to be right for the lead planter. The pressures of church planting will soon unravel any loose ends in your personal, financial, or family life. Do all you can to make sure it’s God’s timing.

2. Credibility. Deciding to join a church is a serious decision for most people – making sure that the church is credible will factor strongly in their decision. With no fancy building, no well developed programs, and no track record to draw on – the credibility of a new church rests squarely on the shoulders of its leader: his spiritual maturity, preaching style, and leadership style will be closely watched. He must walk a fine line between what’s new and progressive, and what’s safe and conventional. Much of this credibility comes from a leader who can chart a good course and just stay on that vector consistently.

3. Anointing. The ultimate test of a church’s validity is the evidence of God’s hand upon it. People will forgive a woefully inadequate worship team if they sense the tanglible presence of the Holy Spirit during worship times. Weekly testimonies of new conversions, restored families, and healing of all kinds are the best sermons that can be preached. People will put up with a lot of the common deficiencies of a new church as long as they can see that God is at work changing lives. This means lots of prayer.

4. Energy. There is a natural tendency amongst Christians to want to “tone things down” a bit when newcomers are present. The assumption is that people are looking for stability and predictability in their church experience. But in the vast majority of cases that assumption is wrong. To most people church and boring are already synonymous. If people are looking for “boring” they know they can find it by walking through the doors of almost any church they pass by. What people find pleasantly surprising is to discover that “church” and “excitement” can exist in the same sentence! When we tone it down all they see is religion. But when services are energetic and enthusiastic they conclude that God is in the house! Plan it into your services or it probably won’t be there.

5. Momentum. When the previous ingredients are all mixed together they tend to produce this thing we call momentum. In physics it’s called “intertia” – the tendency of a body in motion to remain in motion. Wise church leaders monitor momentum all the time because they know the opposite is also true: the tendency of a body at rest is to remain at rest. Momentum tends to attract people. And the more people it attracts the more momentum it gains. Like the boy with a stick prodding an old tire – he knows that left to itself it will slow down and eventually stop. So he prods it again and again until finally it crests the hill and runs away so fast he has to run just to keep up!

Chemistry. When it all comes together in the right proportions – just like that old high school lab experiment – things can really heat up! When two church plants both follow the same game plan, yet one works and the other doesn’t – the difference is in the chemistry. But unlike that lab experiment, it doesn’t have to be total guesswork. Keep these secret ingredients mixed in and things just might explode!

Read 4974 times Last modified on Wednesday - May 17, 2017
Brad Dewar

Veteran church planters Brad & Wendy Dewar combine apostolic and prophetic anointings together with over twenty-five years of ministry experience to produce dramatic results wherever they go. They have planted twelve churches across Canada and coached many others. As Executive Director of Church Planting for VCI they provide counsel and advice to pastors and churches across the nation. Their fresh approach to the Word of God and fluent ministry in the gifts of the Holy Spirit touches lives and sets people free in Christ.

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