Core team, launch team, interest meetings, preview services… I had never heard of any of those nine years ago when we were gearing up to launch Awaken. We just figured we would hit the ground running and assumed people would magically show up. Resources, strategies, and funding abound now, and when we plant and launch new locations in the future, we’ll do it completely different from what we did before.


Although there’s a lot that will change, there’s at least one main thing that won’t: our viewpoint on the importance of a team.


They say teamwork makes the dream work, and I concur. Planting and building a church was always meant to be a team sport, not a solo campaign built around the talent of one. As Pastor Brian Houston puts it, “Church is not built on the gifts and talents of a few, but on the sacrifices of many.”


Here are a few principles to keep in mind as you’re building a core/launch/beginning/interest/key/awesome (or whatever the kids are callin’ it these days) team:


Always choose integrity over ability.

Talent and ability are important, don’t get me wrong. God cared about that too (see Bezalel in Exodus 31). But God never cared about ability over integrity. In fact, it was multiple breaches of integrity that caused God to rip the kingdom from the white-knuckled grip of a massively able king, Saul. Ability? Absolutely. Integrity? Not so much.

The last thing you want is a team member who is super talented, but living a morally compromising life. Not only will that sin (gossip, pride, lust, infidelity, unfaithfulness, etc.) eat away at them and cause them to quit early, but it will become poison on your team and in your future church. Believe me, you will have enough problems to face when launching the church! You need the least amount of problems from your team. Integrity is vital; ability is trainable.


Always trust the presence of God over the presence of people.

This principle applies to your early core team as much as it does in the future when you begin hiring (and firing) and building the church. In Exodus 33, God promised Moses that His presence would go with him, and that same promise holds true today (for instance: the Holy Spirit living inside of you!!!). The church is the only thing Jesus promised He would build, then He left and tossed us the keys! You can be sure He cares about His Church and will be with you every step of the way. I’ve been told not to take attendance drops or a lack of team members personally. If you take the blame when it’s not growing, you’ll take the credit when it is. And if you want to bring a church down quickly, start acting like it’s your presence that matters, not God’s!


Pray for and with your team.

Don’t just say you care most about God’s presence; model it.

Pray with your team. Pray for your team. Pray about your team.

Of all of the incredibly valuable leadership qualities and wisdom you can pass on and model to them, let it be the power of prayer.

I know the saying goes “Teamwork makes the dream work,” but maybe it’s more accurate to say, “Prayer work makes the dream work because it makes the team work.”


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