The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts

Griffith and Easum I recently read The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts, by Bill Easum and Jim Griffith. I found it practical and insightful. I've listed them here along with a quote from each chapter. I would commend the book to you. Every church should be involved in helping start new churches here and abroad. Whether you are a planter, know a planter, or are part of church that plants churches, you may find these insights from Griffith and Easum helpful:

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts

1)   Neglecting the Great Commandment in Pursuit of the Great Commission

  • “It doesn't matter how hard you work or how passionate you are about planting a church; if you forget the power behind the plant-the "Bride"-you're doomed to shrivel up and die on the vine.”

2)   Failing to Take Opposition Seriously  

  • “When one attempts to plant a church, it's not primarily about techniques. The planter is venturing into "occupied territory" only to be greeted by forces, seen and unseen, conspiring to work against any movement of God.”

3)   A Love Affair with One's Fantasy Statement Blinds the Planter to the Mission Field. 

  • “That means two things: one, you must love the people in your area more than your fantasy church; and two, you must be willing to adapt your methods to the realities of the mission field.”

4)   Premature Launch

  • “Every church plant needs an appropriate gestation period for a variety of reasons, but two stand out above all others: (1) to identify the contributions and limitations of the launch team members and (2) to reach a critical mass of people significant enough to populate the ministry teams and/or small groups.”

5)   Evangelism Ceases after the Launch

  • This is in part because the minister becomes co-dependent with the church.
  • The new "E" word is elbow. Our experience has confirmed that over 80 percent of everyone who visits a church, returns to that church, and gradually becomes enfolded into that faith community, does so on the elbow of someone already connected to that church.

6)   No Plan for the Other Six Days of the Week

  • “Pastors are so fixated on the main event they give no thought to what to do with the people who show up.”
  • The hairball model is nothing more than a church of 130 people who function like one gigantic small group, with the pastor as the small group leader. Everybody knows everybody. It's large, but it's still manageable, because it's one big happy family.

7)   Fear of Talking about Money until It Is Too Late

  • All NVCers not only need to contribute financially, but in the early stages, we need them to contact their networks to help raise “virtue capital,” whether ongoing or a one-time gift. Don’t leave anyone off the list.
  • Our strategy is a mixture of Outside/Inside support. At launch, 80% will come from private donors and churches outside of NVC, decreasing roughly 20% per year over four years. This will require lavish generosity from inside and outside NVC.

8)   Failure of the Church to Act Its Age and Its Size

  • “Effective church plants don't begin ministries to please guests… “so, just suck it up and say, ‘we’re not there yet.’”

9)   Formalizing Leadership Too Soon

  • “Either way, formalizing leadership too soon always hinders the growth of a plant. The organization of the plant needs time to find its indigenous roots in the mission field. Future leaders need time to prove themselves on the battlefield.”
  • NVC will take our time in formalizing leadership, waiting until the time is right, likely 24-36 months after launch (note: this is not a “hard” time frame).

10)   Using the "Superstar" Model as the Paradigm for All Church Plants 

  • “Fund fruit, not fantasies.”

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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