Launch Team P.2: How Big Should the Launch Team Be?
To answer this question about launch teams you have to begin with the end in mind. One exercise I work through with each church planter is to explore what their expectations are for opening Sunday. First, estimate how many people will be in attendance on opening Sunday. This is a tough one. Often times church planters will push back and say that its God that grows the church and how can they possibly know. I affirm that theology. However, for planning purposes you need to have a picture of where we are going. What’s the vision? There are some facts that can help. Churches that are started following the best practices of assessment, training and coaching are more likely to survive and thrive. In terms of dollars, it is typical that for each $1000 spent during the pre-launch you can expect approximately 1 person in attendance. NOTE: This is a general rule. Thus if your budget is $300,000 you should plan for at least 300 in regular attendance at launch. It’s very typical for a church planter to dream big. The most common number I here for opening attendance is 500. Here is the key to determining what you really think attendance will be. Sit down and do a budget for the new church. You will need to project how much will come in for local offerings. The way I figure this is take the expected attendance multiplies by the expected dollars per head. It’s normal for new churches to be in the $10 – $12 a head figure for the first year. It varies widely on location and target audience. What I often see is that church planters who dream and say there will be 500 on opening Sunday will adjust that number down to about 250 when budgeting. You want to be realistic. Take into consideration how much funding you have, whether or not you have a group of people starting the church with you from day one, the amount of staff you will have, etc.
Second, create a list of all the different ministry teams that the new church will have on opening day. Be sure to think through every area such as set up and tear down, communion prep, offering count, A/V team, community service team, small groups, etc. For each of those ministry teams, list out each role involved and how many people will be needed for the team to be effective. You will quickly see that there are a lot of people needed to support your vision.
The number of people that should be on the launch team is a number big enough to support that vision. C. Peter Wagner wrote that a minimum of 50 is needed for a healthy launch of a new church. Two years ago, I did a survey of new churches that backed those findings up. You can read more about that here.
There is no perfect science. However, I can tell you from experience that you do not want to start a church without the support of a launch team. A small launch team will result in sacrifices to your vision. When we started LifePointe in Charlotte, we did not have a launch team of 50. Though God blessed us greatly with an opening day attendance of 288, it was a big stress on the staff and launch team to support a congregation of that size. Fortunately for us, many new people stepped up to the plate over the next year to help keep us sane. There were things that dropped through the cracks though. If you are building a launch team, my encouragement to you is pour the majority of your effort into it. Don’t spend 9 months during pre-launch planning your first worship service. Spend 9 month during pre-launch connecting with people and inviting them into the unfolding of God’s story within your community.