The church plant timeline has probably been the most difficult part of the planning process. There are so many different ways to plant a church and for every method there is a different suggested timeline. I finally had to come to the conclusion that no timeline would be perfect and that we would have to create our own unique timeline for our community and calling. In this post, I will share our current timeline and some of the reasons we choose to do things this way.
Before we jump in, I thought it would be helpful to anyone considering planting a church to first go over some timeline principles I’ve learned.
Here is a caveat before I share our timeline: I am not an expert! We are about 8 months from launching, so I’m sure that our timeline will change along the way. I will do my best to update it as this journey continues. Again, the purpose of this series is to document our journey as it happens. I hope this is helpful to others currently or considering planting a church!
We have divided our timeline into 5 phases (Foundations and Fundraising, Gathering, Training, Launch Strong, Becoming an Established Church) I will share briefly about each below. After our launch in September, I hope to post our actual timeline with more detailed steps to help others.
Phase 1: Foundations and Fundraising (September 2018-March 2019)
This is where it all begins! We are about half way through this phase already and if I have one piece of advice it would be to manage your time well. This has been such a weird season. From September to December, I spent a lot of time preparing and planning. I am grateful for that, but much of those plans have been thrown out anyways. If I could do it over, I would just focus on the most important things. Now, my days are full of doing a lot of fundraising and legal task that I probably could of done in the less busy months instead of spending so much time planning. Anyways, here are some of the major things we are doing during this phase.
Phase 2: Gathering (March 2019-June 2019)
I am excited and nervous for this phase. As of the writing of this post, we still have not announced Ascent Church publicly. We do have a website, but no other forms of social media. The only way anyone would know about our church is through word of mouth. We did this intentionally as we are focused on fundraising for the first part of this year so that we can go all in with our launch team come late March. In March, we will have a public announcement that will hopefully draw attention to and excitement for Ascent Church in Woodward. We will begin to serve in our community and share about Ascent with the goal of growing our team and spreading awareness for our September launch. Our goal is to have 75 adults on our launch team by the end of June. That is not 75 people simply committed to attending on launch Sunday, that is 75 people signed up to serve in a ministry area. Many of these people must come from people that I don’t even know yet as of writing this, to be honest it kind of sounds crazy. Yet, I am so sure of our call that I know God will call as many people as needed to fulfill this vision. Here are some of the major efforts of this phase.
Phase 3: Training (July-August)
In this phase we will begin training our launch team. We will spend time on key vision and theological matters that are essential to the foundation of Ascent. In addition to vision and theology, we will train them in practical ministry. We will have a first impressions, creative arts, children's and most likely a set up and tear down team. I am still in the process of planning the exact content of this training period, but i’m leaning toward using much of the training framework Ronnie Parrott provides in this training. After 8-10 weeks of training, we will have two practice services in the weeks leading up to our launch. This will allow us to work through any problems with our equipment and/or roles. On September 14th, the night before our launch, we will have a night of worship, prayer and communion with our launch team. Here is what this phase will hold for us in bullet point form.
Phase 4: Launch Strong (September 15th 2019-December 31st 2019)
On September 15th, all of our hard work will culminate as Ascent church gathers for the first time. It will be a day full of many emotions I am sure. We have chosen to pursue a large launch model for Ascent, because we feel it is the best way to become a self sustaining and multiplying church in the shortest amount of time. Our goal is to launch with 300 people on our very first Sunday and then we expect to lose about 50% of those people by about 10 weeks in. Even then, we will be a church of 150 committed people who we can then disciple in missional living. If I were launching outside of the Bible belt I would probably take more of a slow missional community style launch, but in our context those who don't follow Christ are willing to “go to church” and we are going to use that to our advantage. We could live missional with 12 people in my living room and multiply a decade from now. However, I’d rather launch with 300 and train those 12 leaders to be leaders of others and have 100 people living on mission and become a multiplying church in less than 5 years. You’ll have to choose the method that works best for your context, but for us large launch makes the most sense. In our first few months we will seek to move out of this fragile state. Here is what that will most likely include.
Phase 5 Becoming an Established Church (January 2020-December 2020)
Our goal during this phase is to move out of the start up phase and into the self-sufficient multiplying church we believe God has given us a vision for. We will still be relying on our outside financial partners during this phase as we disciple those within our church to take ownership for their local church. We will also establish meaningful membership and begin the process of identifying and training Elder candidates from within Ascent. Here is a small sample of what this phase will require of us.
There you have the 5 phases of our launch timeline. I am writing this post in February of 2019 and can’t wait to see how these phases begin to come to life. I am sure some things will change in our timeline along the way, but I am thankful for great mentors and the Holy Spirit for the clear direction we have. I hope to have a follow up post to this one sometime in late 2019 with our actual timeline, some specific resources and things we learned along the way.
Thank you for following along with us on this church planting journey. If you would like to read previous post in this series you can do so by clicking here.