Posts Tagged Strategy

Peer Network

A network of Swedenborgian church planting peers has been in the process of forming with the goal of providing mutual support and shared best practices.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday: Advisory Board. Tomorrow: Adopted Parent Congregation(s).]

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Marketing Philosophy

Tagline: “New Way Church: Welcome to Christianity 2.0”.

We cannot be the 1st mover in the “Christian church” category in Austin, obviously, so our goal is to create a new category: “Christianity 2.0”. We will sacrifice market leadership in whatever areas are necessary in order to focus on our unique values and offerings. We will focus on opposite characteristics and not on similarities with category leaders / first movers. The goal is to communicate our differences in a compassionate, non-argumentative way to those who are looking for something different.

Advertising will focus on the “New Way” brand, appealing to people who are spiritually minded but view traditional christianity as outdated and no-longer in synch with postmodern reality. E.g., “Imagine a New Way of seeing God”, “No satisfied Christians here”, etc. Affiliation with the “New Church” umbrella brand will be clear. “New Way” draws on early apostolic Christianity’s original name, “The Way”, while also subtly evoking a more eastern, wholistic approach to spirituality. By tagging the brand with “Christianity 2.0” we emphasize the “New” in “New Way” and “New Church” in a way that appeals to postmodern tech-savvy adults looking for something more than just another flavor of old-school organized religion.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday we talked about the commitment to No Premature Real Estate. Tomorrow I’ll explain Service Evangelism.]

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No Premature Real Estate

Another new component of this church planting model is the avoidance of long-term commitments to real estate. New Way Church will be technically nomadic for the first many years of its existance. This not only reduces costs significantly, but it also helps in a number of other ways. There are a number of different ways of doing this. Primary venues (following recent studies of successful church plants) include movie theaters, school auditoriums, and other community centers. Currently we are looking at the Regal cinema at the Gateway Mall.

New churches often become hyperfocused early on on building programs. The good thing about a building program is that it gives the community a goal. But there are costs that come with this goal.

First, it is a self-serving goal and so tends to turn a community inward. Second, it locks the church in with regard to worship gathering size far too early. Third, it saps all the financial, emotional and physical energy of the congregation, preventing that energy from being used on more outward-facing programs. Fourth, it creates a long-term burden—in the form of maintenance and sometimes debt service—that not only draws money and energy away from outward-focused programs, but (when debt or additional grants are involved) it robs the congregation of an important sense of self-sufficency, making them into wards of the denomination. Finally, building programs encourage a “work hard today, so eventually everyone can stop working so hard altogether” mentality. The building of a building has no obvious followup goal to inspire and lead a community. Better long-term goals include things that will always need repeating—like sponsoring the planting of daughter churches. (See “Daughtering”, below.)

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Last week: Street to Kitchen. Tomorrow: Marketing Philosophy.]

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Crowd to Core

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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Church Systems

We will be using a heavily adapted version of Nelson Searcy’s church systems model. This model organizes a church according to interlocking systems, much like the different systems of the human body. As part of this model, we will be running a semester-based Small Group system, a “big day” driven Evangelism system, and a top shelf Assimilation system using trained greeters, contact cards, and short and medium term personal followup communications.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday: why Mac Frazier. Tomorrow: Crowd to Core.]

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