The growth model will focus not on the core (the dedicated leaders within the congregation), but on the crowd (newcomers and potential newcomers). Traditional church planting focuses on core development, followed by slowly sending the core out to invite new people from the crowd to the congregation. But the problem with this approach is that the core tends to develop a powerful sense of identity that inevitably feels at least unconsciously threatened by the growth of the congregation.

This newer approach views the preexisting dedicated members not as a core to be nurtured, but as a potential leadership team to be immediately empowered and turned outward toward the crowd. Focus then becomes quickly identifying new potential leaders from the crowd of newcomers and carefully progressing them into positions of responsibility at a higher rate than in traditional church settings.

So rather than first meeting for worship in living rooms and doing pastor-led doctrinal studies, we will go immediately to worship in rental facilities, with small groups led by volunteers.

For six months leading up to the public launch date, we will have monthly “preview” services. A preview service is a regular worship service at which everyone is “practicing” for when we invite the general public on launch day. However, after the first one to three preview services (once the roughest edges are knocked off) we will begin inviting personal friends and doing some early advertising. With each service we will build momentum by increasing our connected outreach efforts.

Everyone who attends a preview service is then invited to a “comeback event” two weeks later. These six comeback events are social events at the pastor’s house, at a park, and in other locations. Here the vision for the church is cast, community ties are built, and all attendees are invited to help put on the next preview service.

All this leads to a large marketing push combined with a big invitation program for the launch day, which kicks off regular full operation of the church with weekly public worship gatherings and small group meetings.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday: Church Systems. Next time: Street to Kitchen.]

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