Launch Team P. 3: Who Should Be Excluded from the Launch Team
In this post, we take a look at who should be included and excluded from the launch team. Some of you may be saying, wait did you say exclude? I thought we wanted big launch teams. The answer is yes, you do want a big launch team, but without a few important filters you won’t have a launch team, you’ll have a group of disconnected people with their own agenda as to what the church should be.
Filter #1 Beliefs
While I don’t think you need to publish a thesis of doctrinal beliefs, it’s important to hit the highlights and have an understanding where you understand on the typical beliefs we fight over. Where does the church stand on baptism? Is it by immersion or sprinkling, essential or non-essential? What role can women have in the church? Do you practice gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues. People all across the spectrum of beliefs can get excited about a new church. In fact, new churches seem to attract those with doctrinal agendas. I suggest developing a clear and concise summary of your beliefs and walking new people to the community through them. They don’t have to agree with every single one of them, but they do have to support them. For example, if they believe in the gift of tongues and you don’t, you need them to understand that they must practice that at home and not in the corporate gathering. They must also understand that they are not to recruit people to their doctrinal belief. If they can’t agree to your beliefs, help them find a different team.
Filter #2 Values
I worked with a church planter who regularly turned away Christians from his team. He had a value of community service. He knew that people first wanted a worship service, then Bible studies and later they might make time occasionally for service. So he flipped the model around. In the early days, if you wanted to be on the team you had to serve. Many would immediately ask, well when are we going to start worship services. He’d politely say that they would have worship services later, but to be a part of the church now, you had to serve. Many chose not to join. While I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, the point is clear. If you really care about your values, you will build a team that also cares about them. If you just take warm bodies you may still have a big church, but I guarantee you won’t like it.
Filter #3 Willingness to play in the game.
Launch teams filled with bench players don’t do well. Early on the church planter should develop a list of every ministry team and each role that needs to be filled for that team to thrive. ALL launch team members must be willing to take on a role or two or three…
A word about non-Christians. I think every launch team should have non-Christians on it. While it may be difficult to see how they pass through the beliefs filter, its simply that they do not have an agenda against that set of beliefs. They should be open to the beliefs even if they can’t affirm them in their life yet. Many will gladly latch on to your values and play on the team. DO NOT make being a Christian one of your filters.
So how do you work the filters? Early on I suggest one on one with each person. Later, you may want to have group meetings where you go through these areas. By the way, I suggest doing this after launch as well. I’d also suggest a launch team covenant. Clearly spell out expectations and the time commitment for being on the team and get them to sign on the line.
I had a couple of comments from earlier posts I’d like to address here. Thanks for the questions and keep them coming.
If someone says they have prayed and fasted and are excited to be part of the team, do we take them – even if we have doubts about their readiness and maturity?
My assumption is you are praying and fasting about your team members as well. Remember, Jesus prayed for his launch team (Luke 6). So who do you trust more? Your own insight from prayer or theirs? I personally wouldn’t worry about their readiness or maturity. Let everyone play despite their maturity. You just don’t put them in a leadership role, yet. Stick them with an apprentice/mentor and let them learn. I’d also say that most church planters aren’t ready to plant, let alone lay team members. If you need to tell someone no, do it gently and help them to either find a new team to connect with.
If I, as the church planter want someone to go with me, and they too want to go with me, but my sending church doesn’t want them to go with me – what do we do?
How much money is the sending church giving? That’s a tough one. You need to play within the agreed upon rules with the sending church. I think its best to define those rules up front before vision casting and recruitment begin. You can’t force someone to go to church at a particular place, so if someone really wants to go, they will. I would talk to the leadership of the sending church and let them know that person’s wishes. Let them know that you support their decision, but have been approached by this person and would like their blessing.
Is there something more concrete we can use to determine who should go with us, such as ???per cent of sending church?
Ralph Moore in his book, “How to Multiply Your Church”, talked about how in the early days they would send 20% of the church to start a new one. His wife quickly identified the problem. Those who were excited about church planting, were the most committed, high caliber leaders. They were cannibalizing the sending church. Ralph met with a group of leaders from church planting churches that suggested sending 20 – 30. My advice is be careful. Only take those who pass through the filters. Otherwise you will have 20 – 30 people who want to create a clone and will wonder why you don’t have a jr. high golfing ministry and why you keep asking them to serve.