Tag Archive - plant


Why it may be Good and Time for a Church to Die

A dying church doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a failing church. Death and failure are not the same thing.

The mission of the church is not to build a sustainable business that is annually profitable for shareholders. The Church is not a business, it’s the body of Christ and the mission of the Church is to help people meet, know and follow Jesus.

It is very possible for a declining church that is in the maintenance phase or preservation phase of their lifecycle to begin a new lifecycle of growth and impact in a community (for more explanation of the lifecycle phases of a church check out The Unstuck Church). However, churches that are in the life-support phase rarely recover.

When a church ends up in the life-support phase of the lifecycle they are headed towards one of two possible scenarios. They are either going to close their doors or experience some kind of relaunch (typically as a completely new church or a new campus of another church).

Unfortunately, many churches would choose to close their doors entirely than experience a relaunch or rebirth. It’s the attachment to the past, though, that leads to the church’s ultimate demise. Traditions win over adopting new approaches to ministry and experiencing life transformation. Personal preferences crowd out sacrifice and full devotion to helping new people meet, know and follow Jesus. Attendance dissipates and finances to keep things propped up eventually run out. But remember what I said a moment ago…

“A dying church doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a failing church. Death and failure are not the same thing”

According to the scriptures even King David served his purpose in his time and then died (check out Acts 13:36).

So, what’s a church to do if they’re in the life-support phase and they’re headed towards a certain death?

Invest in a Start Up

There are many existing church facilities in geographic areas around the country where the value of real estate is cost prohibitive for a church planter to begin a new work. That growing cost could actually become a ceiling that prevents new church plants to flourish in high dollar real estate markets. That new work would be greatly accelerated and have a better shot at success if a church on life support was willing to have the foresight to hand over their facility and remaining assets to a church planter and core team that has identified that location as a strategic opportunity.

Turn Over the Keys

Another option for a church in the life-support phase is to become a campus of a growing multisite church in the region. Many large growing multisite churches have a proven track record and the expertise needed to navigate this kind of a move.

Reinvest the Remaining Assets

Denominations have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity in today’s church climate. With many smaller denominational affiliated churches already in, or headed towards, life-support denominational leaders can liquidate these assets to remain in existence (and essentially cannibalize themselves) or reinvest these assets into new Kingdom expansion.

All of these options provide a dying church to not only die with dignity, but with their last act to deliver great Kingdom impact to the next generation. There can be dignity in death, particularly when led through in an honorable and healthy manner. While I would rarely advocate for the closure of a church, there are moments where it is the wisest course of action.

Posted in Leadership


How Church People can Wreck a Church Plant

New churches reach new people, right? That’s the prevailing thought. Unfortunately, the prevailing thought doesn’t always prevail. I’ve talked to plenty of church planters who were excited to plant and reach new people in a new community only to open their doors and find their new church flooded with disgruntled church people who left their old church hoping that this new church would be more of what they want and meet their needs better.

There’s a lot wrong with that picture, and it would take a much higher word count than I have to use in this short blog post to fully unpack. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome in that scenario (which is super common by the way) is that all of those people coming from other churches are coming with their own agenda and expectations of what they want from you.

So, what do you do when your new church plant is flooded with disgruntled church people from other churches that hope you’re going to be the perfect new church for them (by the way some people make a career out of that…it’s called church hopping)?

Be Clear about the Vision

Vision both attracts and repels at the same time. The clearer you can be with unique vision that God has given you, the more likely it is that the right people will stay, and the right people will go. Don’t be naïve, there are, “the right people,” for both of those options. They key is consistently and creatively weaving your vision into everything you do so people are confronted with it early and often. The earlier they opt in or opt out the better off you will be and the better off they will be. If your vision is to build a church of disgruntled church folks and try to make them happy, then by all means embrace them (and let me be the first one to say good luck). But if the vision is to reach people who are unfamiliar with Jesus with the Gospel, then let them go, and let them go quickly.

Be Courageous

Courage is the prerequisite for Biblical leadership. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to say yes to following Jesus and lead other people to go there with you. Humility is the other side of that coin by the way, in fact humility is courage before it’s needed. As a planter you’re going to need a significant amount of courage to lead yourself and others somewhere you’ve never been. It takes courage to say no to people when everyone thinks they know what the next best step for the church is or the next great ministry you should start. Especially when fear wells up in you that people may leave if you don’t appease them. It will require courage to say no to good opportunities in order to say yes to the best opportunities and it will require courage to say no to short cuts that may get you somewhere quickly but erode your leadership in the long run.

Be Slow to Appoint Leadership

Go slow, go slow, go slow, go slow. Don’t appoint a leader too quickly, especially in the early moments and years of a plant. It takes time to build culture and create owners instead of fans. The earlier you invite new people to be on a Board or prominent leadership role the more likely those people are going to come with their own agendas and have the potential to highjack the vision. You’d be wiser to invite outside trusted pastors to serve on an external board until you have time to establish the culture and develop internal board members. You’d also be wise to spend time developing a core team of people prior to launch who will serve as ministry volunteers and leaders.

Posted in Leadership


Should your Church Start New Campuses or Plant New Churches?

“Multi” doesn’t mean “Mega” anymore. According to a study conducted by Leadership Network there are more than 8,000 multisite churches across America and more than 1,600 megachurches (churches of more than 2,000 people in weekly attendance). While both are growing, the multisite church movement has outpaced the megachurch movement in America. What was once seen only as a Band-Aid solution for space issues at megachurches has become a vehicle for growth in local churches of all kinds and all sizes (the average size that a church goes multisite is around 850).

But multisite is not the only way to reach new people. Church planting has been a time-tested strategy to reach new people in new cultural contexts. Church planting works best to reach people who are culturally and/or demographically different than us, where a different approach than the way we do church would be the most effective. Starting new multisite campuses on the other hand works best for people who are geographically closer, and both culturally and demographically similar to us where the same approach to the way we do church would be the most effective. In other words, it’s not one or the other, it’s both-and. It’s about what approach is going to be the most effective in reaching people with the Gospel. However, there are some significant differences between adopting a planting or a multisite model.


Unless a new church plant is specifically designed to reach a different demographic in a current community, church plants typically take place outside of a 30-minute drive time radius of the sending church. New multisite campuses are typically launched within a 15-30-minute drive time of the sending church.


The prototypical Church Planter is entrepreneurial, has a unique culture they are building, a specific vision they are chasing, and acts as the team owner. Great Campus Pastors on the other had embrace an existing vision, implement that vision in their unique campus context, shepherd the local congregation, and are great at coaching the team.


In a typical church plant, it’s not uncommon that the plant team raises financial support outside of the budget to fund their salary and to fund the public launch of the ministry. Often this financial support may come from individual donors, sending churches, or sending organizations. In a multisite setting, the original campus or existing campuses fund the new campus including salaries, facilities, and start-up costs (usually with more significant funding than a church plant setting). Once that new campus is financially healthy they also typically begin funding central services with a fixed percentage of its budget.


In a church plant, everything is starting at the beginning. Everything is new by nature, hasn’t been done in that unique church and context and by necessity must be created. In a multisite setting things aren’t being created as so much as they are being contextualized and replicated. After all, one of the reasons churches go multisite isn’t to create something new but rather because they have a culture worth replicating.


This one seems to be a bit of no-brainer, but church plants are typically self-governed and have their own board, even if they have a connection to a denomination. Multisite campuses, on the other hand, are governed by a central board of elders whose decisions influence every campus.

When it comes to managing the tension between church planting and multisite, it’s not a matter of either or, it’s both-and. They don’t have to be competing strategies. After all the goal is to lead more people, in more places, into a relationship with Jesus.

If your church needs help taking the next step with your multisite strategy I would encourage reaching out to the Unstuck Group. Our team has 40+ combined years of experience leading in successful multisite churches. Our proven multisite services are designed to help multisite churches clarify their strategy and effectively lead one church in multiple locations.

Posted in Leadership


Recent Thoughts about Church Planting from Ed Stetzer

Last week Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) hosted Ignite, the national church planting conference for Converge, which is one of the most successful church planting movements in the country.

While there Ed Stetzer, who among other things serves as the Executive Director of LifeWay Research had the following to say about church planting.

  • There is no biblical mandate to plant churches. The bible never says to plant churches. But it is implied. The whole New Testament is about church planting.
  • Most church plants don’t cross the 100-person threshold until year 4.
  • If we are not careful, church conferences can become “ministry porn” because of the unrealistic expectations it creates about reality.
  • Church planting is becoming increasingly more expensive.
  • As a church planter if your answer is “if the money doesn’t come through then I won’t plant the church,” then you probably shouldn’t plant the church if the money comes through.
  • If God calls you to do a thing you do a thing because Jesus calls you to do it.
  • Don’t be so committed to getting people out of the community you’re planting in that you forget to bless the community.
  • You need to know more about your city than anyone else…you can’t love a people if you don’t know a people
  • One of the modern dangers of church planting is that it’s possible to plant a church in a “non-relational way” today in a way you couldn’t years ago. That’s not what Jesus had in mind when He talked about the discipleship/relationship building movement He died for.
  • Plant a church that actually reflects true religion. Jesus came to serve and to save (true religion as defined in the book of James).
  • Serving the hurting is not Gospel proclamation it’s Gospel demonstration.
  • Today we are planting more churches than we are closing in the U.S.
  • I care more about Church Planters than I do about church planting.

Posted in Leadership


5 Big Questions to Answer Before you go Multisite

Currently there are more than 8,000 multisite churches across America and more than 1,600 mega churches (churches of more than 2,000 people in weekly attendance). While both are growing the multisite church movement has outpaced the mega church movement in America. What was once seen as only a Band-Aid strategy for space issues at mega churches has become a vehicle for growth in local churches of all kinds and all sizes (the average size a church goes multisite is around 850-1200). “Multi” doesn’t mean “Mega” anymore.

Your church may be considering going multisite. If so, that’s exciting news and I’d love to hear about it! But before you do here are 5 big questions you need to answer before you take the multisite plunge.

1. How are we going to Deliver Teaching?

About 50% of multisite churches are delivering teaching via video while the other 50% are using live teaching in their locations. Live teaching requires less investment in technology for distribution while delivering teaching via video allows for clearer vision, culture and leadership through one voice. There are a lot of pros and cons. What best fits the unique personality of your church and best supports the vision of where you’re going?

2. Why are we going Multisite?

This is the biggest question you need to be able to answer before you pull the trigger on multisite. Are you doing it because you are mimicking the practice of others or are you doing it because it’s a natural recourse of your identity and vision? Do you have a culture worth replicating or would you be better off church planting? Multisite is not a growth engine, but it is a delivery system for growth. If your church is currently stuck and not growing, moving to a multisite model is not going to make your church grow.

3. What are we looking for in a Campus Pastor?

Are you looking for someone who is a visionary and entrepreneurial or are you looking for someone who is a strong leader and can implement and replicate systems and culture? Do you need someone who can teach and lead from the stage or someone who can develop staff and build teams? Do you want to hire from within so they already understand your culture or do you want to hire from the outside so you can change things? Do you know what you’re looking for in a campus pastor?

4. What is our Launch Strategy?

Have you chosen a strategic location that reflects your culture? Are you launching in a location where you already have people who drive to your original campus living in? Have you developed a core team and started small groups in the community prior to a public launch of the new campus? Do you have a financial model built to move the campus towards becoming financially self sustaining and ultimately giving towards future campuses? Have you developed a staffing strategy for the campus as it launches and grows? How will you grand open the location and invite the community?

5. How Consistent will our Approach be?

How autonomous or consistent will each campus be in it’s approach to ministry? Will the guest experience be the same or unique on each campus? Will people check-in kids the same way on each campus? Will the weekend worship service be identical, similar, or different? Will each campus have the same ministries or unique? Will each campus go on their own mission trips and have their own local and international partners or will campuses pool their resources and do it together? The list could go on and on, but the question that needs to be answered is how consistent will you be in your approach?

Posted in Leadership
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