Posts Tagged Austin

Target Demographics

Open to all, focused on Austinites (within city limits): 20-somethings and 30-somethings, young starters, young professionals, tech workers, and students. Special focus on dissatisfied Christians and anti-baptist postmoderns. (See Percept data reports for detailed local breakdowns of demographic and psychographic distributions.) By having a “target”, we are not closing ourselves to other people; the purpose of having a target demographic is to provide focus and starting point for planning and outreach.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday began this section on People. Next we’ll continue the theme with a post on the Initial Leadership Team.]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

People

Church is about the connection of two elements: the Lord, and people. The Lord is eternal and infinite, and so unchanging. People, however, are finite and temporal, and so vary greatly from age to age, from place to place, and from language to language. So it is very important that we define which people we are dealing with in this plan.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Last Friday we wrapped up the Rationale section with a post on Contingencies. Today begins the People section, so tomorrow’s post will be on Target Demographics.]


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Contingencies

So: what if things don’t go as planned? First of all, they won’t. That’s the nature of plans, and especially of startup plans. This plan is a starting point from which course corrections and new plans will be derived as reality unfolds. Think of it as the center line in the middle of a thirty degree arc. We need to be ready to swing fifteen degrees to the left or right as obstacles arise and new lessons are learned, while maintaining overall fidelity to the essential spirit of the vision.

Secondly, it is important for the General Church and for everyone involved to recognize not just that one in three church plants “fails”, but that there are good and bad forms of failure. A “bad” failure results in the General Church and/or one or two major donors continuing to carry the load of financially supporting a static or shrinking church for perpetuity. A “good” failure results in the end of the current project, an objective assessment of what went right and what went wrong, followed swiftly by a new startup incorporating the lessons learned.

It should be recognized, also, that all kinds of error will involve numerous successes with eternal ramifications. Such intermediate outcomes more than justify the risk of loss of startup capital, time, and energy. For example, the “No Exit Café” no longer exists in the natural sense, and yet there are people all over the country who spent time with that church plant and are forever changed by it, including several who are currently members of still existing congregations elsewhere in the body of the General Church. Did that church make mistakes and eventually close its doors? Yes. Did it permanently advance the cause of the kingdom of the Lord God Jesus Christ? Yes.

Theologicaly, we are a process-oriented church that teaches and believes that the Divine plan for humankind in this world involves iterative cycles of long periods of error, assessment, and hard work, regularly alternating with short periods of victory and rest. This means that we should not focus on being error free so much as on properly processing our errors so that we may “fail forward” in a way that allows the Lord to improve us. Western educational systems unfortunately train us to fear failure and error, to always seek to get “the right answer”, or else to not raise our hand at all. Any truly creative process, on the other hand, requires a willingness to experiment, to stumble, to try crazy things now and then, and to jump in with full knowledge that you may well delete the first chapter of that novel or the opening scene of the movie, once the whole thing is complete. We—the General Church of the New Jerusalem, New Way Church, and the Lord’s church worldwide—will be more successful if we are willing to take risks for the sake of bringing new things into the world in the Lord’s name.

That said, how do we know when it is time to stop the current experiment, evaluate, and begin again? By checking key measures at predetermined times. Measuring too soon and too often will stifle the project and crush the spirit of those on the ground in Austin, while measuring too infrequently or too late will not help correct the course if things are good but turning bad. So it is our intention to work with the General Church, the Board of Advisors, and with our other supporters to cooperatively review the status of the church at certain key points leading up to launch, and then afterward on a semianual basis until New Way Church is firmly established as a free standing, self-supporting church with healthy prospects for surviving and thriving for generations to come.

At each of these checkpoint times, key measures will be evaluated against the established plan, budget and expectations. Based on these reality checks, components of the plan will be adjusted in either minor or major ways, as appropriate.

The following are the key checkpoints:

Date/Event Evaluation Contingencies
Sep. 20, 2010
(After 1st Comeback Event)
Connection card returns, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust location, worship format, worship style, budget.
Nov. 1, 2010
(After 3rd Comeback Event)
Connection card returns, worship participant numbers, volunteer numbers, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust location, worship format, worship style, worship environment (greeters, signage, etc.), launch date, budget.
Dec. 21, 2010
(After 5th Preview Service)
Connection card returns, worship participant numbers, volunteer numbers, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust location, worship format, worship style, worship environment, launch date, marketing, budget.
Mar. 21, 2011
(Approx. one month after Launch)
Connection card returns, worship participant numbers, volunteer numbers, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust worship format, worship style, marketing, newcomer integration, budget.
May 11, 2011 Connection card returns, worship participant numbers, volunteer numbers, small group participant numbers, contributor numbers, total contributions, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust worship format, worship style, worship environment, marketing, newcomer integration, stewardship plan, budget.
Nov. 14, 2011 Connection card returns, worship participant numbers, volunteer numbers, small group participant nubmers, contributor numbers, total contributions, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust worship environment, marketing, newcomer integration, stewardship plan, budget.
Ongoing semiannually until self-supporting in 2014 Connection card returns, worship participant numbers, volunteer numbers, small group participant nubmers, contributor numbers, total contributions, actual expenses vs. budget. Adjust worship environment, marketing, newcomer integration, stewardship plan, budget.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Last Friday I talked about Church Daughtering as a key strategy. This post on Contingencies concludes this section of the plan. Next I will publish the start of the People section.]


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Daughtering

A key component to this strategy is church daughtering, which we are defining as an ongoing strategy of local church societies planting churches that eventually become full-grown independent congregations.

The primary rationale for church daughtering is that a church community should follow the human form established by the Lord. This means that a congregation should be born, grow rapidly, attain maturity, serve a use in the world, and eventually reproduce.

Note that this will over time shift primary responsibility for church planting in the General Church away from the denominational center and more and more to individual societies. As one of the first General Church plants using this new model, we are using seed money from the General Church central budget to cover 50% of startup costs; the long-term vision is to have one third of startup costs directly from parent society budgets, one third raised by the church planter candidate from individual donors, and one third paid for out of either the General Church office of Outreach or from a special New Church affiliated para-church organization to be formed for the explicit purpose of training, funding and supporting church planters.

An additional consideration behind taking a church daughtering approach is its effect on the culture and direction of the parenting church congregation. A typical pattern in church starts is to focus on the establishment of a permanent physical location (see above, under, “No Permanent Real Estate”), as the major long-term objective for the community. Additionally, in the General Church, the establishment of a local church school is often a major goal for small congregations contemplating growth.

However, as noted earlier, goals that are inward focused and terminal (as opposed to ongoing) have a tendancy to deflate the momentum and neighbor-focused drive of a congregation once such goals are attained. By recognizing from the very birth of New Way Church, however, that all of us who participate in and benefit from its existence have a responsibility to give back by “paying it forward”, we will build into the DNA of the community’s culture an ongoing impetus for looking outward toward the neighbor.

Church planting is a sacrificial endeavor. We don’t start new churches to serve ourselves, but those whom we have not yet met that the Lord is nevertheless working to form His kingdom from. Selfless giving from outside of Austin will help make this happen, so selfless giving from New Way Church will contribute to future church congregations that have not yet been imagined.

To this end, a minimum of 10% of all revenue, straight off the top, beginning day one, will be put into a dedicated church daughtering account. The funds in this account are to be solely for the purpose of returning the gift given to us by sponsoring future church plants, locally, regionally, and (eventually) internationally.

You can see this fund in the accompanying budget workbook, as well as a separate line item, under the heading of “tithes”. Under this heading, in addition to the minimum 10% starting on day one, put aside for future plants, another flat 10%—once self-sufficiency is attained—will be given back to the General Church Office of Outreach budget. The GC Outreach tithe is a flat 10% starting in 2014; the daughtering “tithe” starts immediately (before self-sufficiency) at 10%, but may grow depending on the financial health of the congregation in future years.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday I posted on Ratios. Next week I’ll post the section on Contingencies.]


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ratios

Assimilation goal: each newcomer should have 7 church friends in first 6 months.

Invite ratio: 14 personal invitations to get 1 long-term member.

Direct mail response rates: normally .5%, but in church world perhaps more like .25%.

Outreach/marketing budget: at least 10%.

Salaries/benefits: under 50%.

Second worship service: when 1st is 80% full AND over 100 people.

1st Worship space must accommodate at least 125, although it should be set up for less, so chairs get pulled out as people arrive. (Assuming portable chairs; if a movie theater, for instance, this won’t work, obviously. Movie theater strategy will probably be to go with smallest available auditorium: likely 100 seats.)

At least 2 Sunday a.m. services before services at other times/days.

At least 2 services, as soon as possible.

Hire full time ordained staff: 1 for every 150 Sunday attendees.

[This is from the Launch Plan for New Way Church in Austin, TX. Yesterday I explained Service Evangelism. Tomorrow will be all about Daughtering.]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,