October 6, 2014

Church Planting Basics: How Will You Gather People?

There are a number of models for gathering people. For instance, will you develop a small or large group model? Small groups permit a closer, more relational focus, which allows small group leaders to develop more easily. Large groups allow the focus to be on the planter who directs the programs, projects, and systems. It is important to consider in the pre-launch days whether or not you intend to gather and train people in one large group or split them up into differing groups as more people become involved in the ministry. You can either take the approach of training all the people at once or focusing on your initial leaders in order to grow the team. In other words, will you lead from the front or will you mobilise individuals to spread the workload? How you decide this will play a huge part in determining what kind of church you are going to be.

Will you meet in your home initially? This is a model that will certainly attract the middle classes but it is a bit of a cultural no-no in schemes (however, there are always exceptions). You may get better traction by meeting in a public building which, in the schemes anyway, would mean that the locals would view you with less cult like suspicion than in a home. Obviously, meeting in your home keeps down costs and means less work than paying for renting a building and the hassle of packing and unpacking every week. Of course, you have to weigh up the benefits and negatives of each situation. Remember, always keep your options open on the ground.

In gathering people, it is always best to know yourself well. What kind of person are you? What kind of people are naturally drawn to you? What kind of people are you normally drawn to? These will help you understand your weak/blind spots. Who do you need to recruit in order to achieve balance? If you are a man in your 50’s then the chances are you are unlikely to attract anybody under the age of 30. That is a problem, and so you would need to recruit a younger team member to fill that gap. If you are only good talking to drug addicts and the unemployed then you will need a member who can reach the more educated demographic. This is not to say that we cannot reach people outside of our own culture (God can and will use all people) but it just means that we have to be realistic when gathering in the early days because time is precious.

Talk to people. Many church planters fail to gather people simply because they fail to talk to people. If you want to figure out a balance between reading, prepping, doing newsletters and making a cool website, and meeting people, then DROP EVERYTHING and meet with people. Here are some tips:

  • Go to places where people naturally congregate in your community. So, for example, is there a local cafe?
  • Join a local group with which you share some sort of affinity (then it won’t be a chore but something you take great delight in).
  • Always establish contact with the extended family of new friends. Remember names and pray for them.
  • Have a good sense of humour and be able to poke fun at yourself. Humour carries so much weight in the schemes that it is practically a pre-requisite for acceptance as part of our interview process.

Here is the number one tip when gathering people: Don’t be a creepy, axe murdering freak. Just chill and be normal with people. If you are awkward around people then they will be awkward around you. A church planter will gather people around his godliness, character, vision, and likeability. You can be as godly and disciplined as you like, but if you are a social plum then you will find it difficult to gather a group around you who will take momentum into the schemes.

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