5 Things I’m Learning Starting a Church

1.  Never, Never, Never Underestimate the Power of Relationship Development
Starting a church in Terre Haute 13 years ago was largely possible because of the relationships we had developed with pastors in the area. Since they knew us, and we knew them they were confident that our motives were right and not out to “steal sheep” as it were.  Several pastor friends even offered the use of their buildings on Sundays after services for us to launch the church until we were able to secure our own property.
2.  Evangelism MUST become a Lifestyle…
Starting a church from scratch you do not have the luxury of well established members who have attended a church for generations. You must evangelize and continue to do so to maintain a viable congregation as well as keep the excitement and changed lives at the forefront.  Evangelistic efforts need to be a part of every service, function and activity. Vital!!!
3. God will Send you Scaffolding to Build the Baby Church
The congregation we have now (after 13 years) is totally different than the people we started with (with the exception of Sharon and I and one other couple!!)  God brought us folks that had a love for church planting and building but moved on after that process had run its course.  We are forever grateful for them and no doubt they are helping other churches get going, but they are no longer with us.  Gives a new meaning to “Upon this Rock; I will build my church”.. The scaffolding shows something is being built, supports the rising structure but is removed after the new building is completed. Such was the life of some who helped at the beginning but have since moved on.
4. Concentrate on just a few good areas at the beginning; don’t try to be a megachurch!!! 
We had good music, good children’s ministry (to help reach our target audience) and good preaching (I say tongue in cheek).  These sustained us until we could offer more ministry offerings.  We recommended unique ministries from other churches (see point #1). We decided NOT to start new ministries on a shoestring but wait until we could do them and staff them right!!
5. You Must Constantly be Training New Folks to Lead and Serve
For us this meant every leader had an assistant and an heir apparent and I was constantly asking people to serve. This cut down the training process (because they learned from those who were already doing ministry),  I must confess when a guest would tell me what their ministry passion was; I would immediately try to recruit them (not a good idea generally but we were desperate in the early days and God protected us from “crazies” and we gave some folks a chance to minister who had never been used.) Good times!!
6. The Task is Much Greater Than You Can Do Alone (I know I said 5 but can’t leave this one out!!!)
Church planters are generally multitasking maniacs, but even with that much is lacking.  Just know that without the sacrificial help of many the church will not make it.  You must have a strong marriage and a supportive spouse.  Take time to develop the vision of ministry and rehearse and share it often.   People are drawn to vision, passion and ministry mindedness, that’s how Christ took a group of 11 and changed the world;  the method doesn’t change, that’s how the church today will flourish!!
Thanks for the opportunity to share!
Paul Carey

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