What Church Planting Taught Me

Many of you know that I helped to plant a church in Baltimore called The Garden Community.  Planting a church was an incredible roller coaster ride, teaching me about dependence on God, effective leadership, how to care well for people of different backgrounds, and my own spiritual condition.  A friend of mine once told me that everyone should start a church at least once in their lives.  While I may not fully buy into that line of thought, I do highly recommend that if you are called to do so that you pursue it with everything in your being, and don’t stop until you hear God telling you to.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share a little bit of what I learned through my experiences in Baltimore and the lessons that I learned during my time there.  Here is a little bit of where I am headed:

  • Getting Started. (part one)(part two)  What a church planter needs to think through before heading off into the field.
  • The People You Meet.(part one)(part two)(part three)  One of the best parts of planting a church are the people you will meet… one of the biggest challenges of planting a church are the people you will meet.
  • Community Exegesis.  The context that you will be serving in is as unique as a snowflake, so how do you shape your ministry to fit the context that you are serving in?
  • Building Your Team. (part one)(part two Let’s be clear: If you intend to plant a church on your own, you will fail.  How do you develop a team to pursue this calling with?
  • Fundraising. (part one)(part two)  The dreaded F word.  Face it, if you are planting a church fundraising will be a significant part of your life for the next several years.  Let’s talk about how to do it well.
  • Salaries.  How much is enough, what is too much… too little?  What to consider when you are deciding how much to budget for your salary.
  • Stop Reading, Go Do It.  Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, and the other publishers don’t want you to read this… there comes a time when you need to stop hiding behind the books and just do something.
  • Processes and Systems. (part one)(part two)  Go ahead, roll your eyes.  Whether you want to be “that kind of church” or not, you need to figure this stuff out… or prepare to spend a good bit of time and money on your lawyers.
  • Sustainable Church Planting. (part one)(part two)(part three)  Ministry in general is a far more demanding profession than most people realize.  Church planting takes the pressures, stresses, and workload and cranks it up to 11.  Let’s talk about making sure that you and your family are prepared to stay healthy through the process.
  • When Is It Time to Quit? (part one) (part two)  Depending on who you get your information from the percentage of failed church plants in this country is high (some say 75%).  While you do not plan to fail, the conversation needs to be had about what are and what are not appropriate reasons to close the doors of your church.
  • Final Thought: Don’t Go It Alone.  Far too many pastors, planters included, allow themselves to get isolated… even when surrounded by hundreds of people.  Only bad things come of that.  Don’t be that guy.

Just to be clear, I am by no means an expert when it comes to church planting.  I am not Ed Stetzer and it is unlikely that I will ever speak at Exponential or other church planting conferences.  I am just sharing my experiences and those of a handful of friends of mine in an attempt to help new churches have an easier time of it.

What do YOU think are the most important things a church planter should know? 



About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.