In 2009, we sold our house and car in May, moved to Clarksville in June, started weekly park outreaches in July, launched a home Bible study in August, and opened the church doors in September. Here is the original Awaken Church “launch plan” (if you can call it that) in nine words:
Hit the ground running and hope for the best.
No interest meetings.
No launch team prep.
Just a crazy cocktail of vision, faith, and naivety.
We’ve since wised up and partnered with Association of Related Churches (ARC), which all churches should do. This isn’t a commercial for ARC though; this is a reminder that if God can use our “method,” He can use any method!
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about the launch:
Know who you are and how you work.
A guy joined us for one of our first services after we launched. He went home and sent me a scathing email where he shredded my sermon and our approach to ministry. Here’s the best part: he was a local pastor! That email shook me up, but it was healthy. It helped me cling tighter to my roots and the way God trained and wired me for ministry.
If you haven’t been already, you will be tempted to abandon who you are in pursuit of who others say you should be. Trust your training and the years of preparation God has taken you through. Be you and reach the people God has called you to reach in the way God has equipped you to reach them.
Build a team.
I won’t spend long here since we’ve discussed building a team already, but I can’t overstate the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded, servant-hearted Jesus followers who catch the vision and will do anything necessary to move it forward. You’ll know them when you find them and you should honor them when you get them!
Show up to serve.
Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45), so His church should function similarly.
Before we asked people to come to us, we wanted to demonstrate our desire to go to them, so we hit neighborhoods and parks all over our city. We were prepared for hundreds…and tens showed up. It was underwhelming, but God used it to build His church by demonstrating who He is.
Strategic or Spirit-led? YES.
There’s a false idea existing among some pastors and church planters that strategizing isn’t trusting the Holy Spirit to lead. I couldn’t disagree more. Preparation honors God and God honors preparation. Read the book of Acts. Some of the churches Paul planted were organic (Philippi), but others were very strategic (Ephesus). Both are important. You should follow God’s lead even when it seems to go against the most strategic method, but you should also constantly strategize. Study the data, know your city, pick a great location, meet other local pastors, learn what works in your city, the culture, and the rhythms of your city…
If God could use our method (or lack thereof), He can use yours.
Strategize and launch well.
K E V I N • M I L L E R
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