Launch Team P.1: Building a Launch Team is Priority One
There are hundreds of tasks to complete when planting a church. Recently a planter told me, “I got so much done today, but then I looked at how much I had left and felt like I was eating the proverbial elephant.” Toward the end of the conversation I asked how many people were on his launch team. He replied, the same as last month. I need to get some people around me.
I have seen church planters start churches with many of the “tasks” incomplete. I’ve seen churches start with limited budgets, borrowed and begged for equipment, no staff, and even heard of a church that started in a park because they had no facility. Many of these churches overcome these obstacles and become a healthy congregation. However, I’ve never seen a church start without people. A church planter’s worst nightmare is opening Sunday arrives and the only people in the congregation are his spouse, 2 kids and mom.
Priority one for the church planter is to build and develop a launch team. So what constitutes a launch team? A launch team, is a group of people committed to helping start the church. These are not attendees or pew sitters. Warm bodies do not count. The best way to tell if someone is on the launch team is to ask yourself what area of service they are responsible for. If the answer is none, they are not on the launch team. This definition does not exclude non-Christians. You should encourage non-Christians to join the team. They will likely join the team not because of their love for the church, but because of their friendship with you. I’m often asked, do kids count? My answer is no. They need to be people who can fill a ministry role. At times you will have high caliber teens who will be able to assist in key ministry roles, but even though your kids will be moving chairs and preparing communion, I wouldn’t count them. Note: You don’t have to tell the kids that. In fact, I’d give them all titles and let them have responsibility as well. Just realize that they are kids.
Launch teams also have a definitive end. The purpose of the team is to start the church. Once that mission is complete, it is important for the team to disband. Otherwise, you quickly create an insider culture within the new church. I encourage church planters to set a time limit of approximately six months after opening Sunday. This let’s them know when they job is complete. Some of your launch team will come from other churches and this will let them know when its ok for them to return to their congregation. For non-Christians, it let’s them know when they can start sleeping in again on Sundays. Remember that many of them will come out of a relationship with you or someone else on the launch team. The ideal is that during the time they serve, they will come to know Jesus. But, if they do not, release them at the end of their commitment. Don’t guilt them into staying or you will damage the relationship.
I’ll continue this conversation on launch teams with a series of posts over the next couple of weeks. Here what’s coming: