After we had fasted and prayed through a time of discernment and got a green light from our senior pastor, God spoke loudly and clearly, “It’s time to church plant!”
I remember thinking to myself…well, what now?
How do you prepare to plant and navigate the beginning stages of “doing church” as a church plant? Here are a couple of steps to humbly take with a team of honest people.
Pray Pray Pray
Don’t skip this step! In as much detail as you can, begin to pray, “God, if you have called us to plant a church during this season and for these people, I won’t go unless you go before us. How do you want to provide for what we need?”
Begin to talk with Jesus about all of the things he has in store for you including finances, a place to live, and places for you and your disciples to meet. This gives you an opportunity to hear his promises for how he wants to grow the church with leaders, disciples, and evangelistic outreach and hear his leading on some of the specifics.
I also suggest you take time in the location where God has asked you to go, praying with open eyes and ears. Ask God to highlight the history of the location, spiritual warfare, persons of peace, and the places where your heart is drawn.
Write It Down
As you pray, write it all down. How is God asking you to plan for the next 2 years? What is his strategy for the people he has given you to steward? How has he asked you to step out in faith over the next two years? How is he asking you to die to your own agenda for success? How has he promised he will provide?
Writing it down allows you to see it more clearly and remember it as you have heard it. It makes it more than an idea. Having it in words also helps you to prepare for sharing your vision with others. Plus, having it in writing means others can read it and digest it for themselves as well.
Share the Vision and Ask others to Join you.
The first two years of planting are really built on that foundation of the vision God has given you.
You won’t have many practical things to offer new disciples and your planting team. The main thing God has given you is vision. It’s time to start sharing it! The more you share it, the more clear and refined it will become.
After consulting with your sending pastor, respecting their boundaries around how and who you can share the vision with, it’s time to be bold. Invite others into your vision with confidence. This is the greatest adventure they could give their lives to. For you, this is worth dying for. This isn’t about filling a need; it’s inviting them into something they don’t want to miss out on.
Talk to people about your financial needs and ask if God would speak to them about it. Tell them about the team God told you to create around you based on your strengths and weaknesses and 2 year strategy. Ask them to pray about how they would want to be a part of it. Tell them about how critical it is to have intercessors to pray regularly for you and your team.
Stay Accountable and Submissive
Surround yourself with the authority and favor of your sending church. Build up a team of intercessors and a small group of safe people that are praying with you in your most vulnerable seasons of hesitation, fear, temptation, and anxiety.
In the preparation stage, planters are often tempted with pride or fear. This is the time when you begin to practice what it means to surround yourself with counselors, spiritual directors, coaches, accountability partners, and other safe places of vulnerability that will ensure you keep walking with Jesus for the long haul.
Raising money, recruiting volunteers, and planning your first Sunday gathering are all going to happen as fruit of healthy preparation like this. Hopefully these first steps will help you build a solid foundation that will help you navigate through your beginning stages of “doing church”.
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About the Author
John Aureli was on staff at the Sugar Land Vineyard for 3 years as an associate pastor leading compassion ministries. John and his wife Arleta planted the Mission Vineyard in 2011. Their desire is to send out 17 churches by 2035. John is also involved in Vineyard church planting in Argentina. John and Arleta love spending time with their two kids and do their best to adventure to Maine or Padre Island National Seashore for vacation.
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