Yesterday our 8th church plant, Element Church, had their first monthly preview service. It was a great initial introduction to the community; the worship team was incredible; and we had 148 in attendance! During the service, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was to see the group of 7 we started almost a year ago with now ministering to almost 150! Rich and his team were well prepared and laid out at a quality welcome mat to the community. I’m excited to see what God has in store in the coming months!
Now, some might ask, with such a great first preview service, why not launch now? Great question! The idea of monthly preview services has been explained in Nelson Searcy’s book, Launch, and to understand it, you have to first understand the main premise: The larger a church can launch, the quicker it will sustain itself, the greater the impact it can have. With that said, these services are geared toward accomplishing a few things:
- Allowing the launch team to refine their process and work out the kinks in service planning & implementation. Without fail, there will always be a few things to correct and fix. Having a month between services allows the team to have time to correct these issues. The goal here is excellence.
- It gives time for the leaders to focus on building teams, which in the long-run will impact the size and sustainability of a church plant. As people from the community come to the monthly preview services, leaders & members of the various teams (hospitality, tech, kids, etc.) that make up the larger launch team can look for possible team members and encourage them to join them in serving. The goal here is team building.
- These services allow momentum to build toward the Grand Opening. Although a Grand Opening creates natural momentum, having some going in makes it only bigger. It’s like throwing gasoline on a small flame – it makes the flame bigger and more impacting. The goal here is pre-launch growth.
With this model of planting, the launch team still meets weekly. This weekly meeting should grow as the grand opening draws closer. Also, in between monthly preview services, there are ‘easy-invite’ events called comeback events. These might include a cookout, bowling, or other relationally-geared event. If you are looking to plant a church, I would strongly encourage you to check out Nelson Searcy’s book, Launch, and see if his model or portions of his model might work for you!