I have heard a well-intentioned church planter say that if there is a great worship team and an above-average preacher, the church will succeed. I think that is a way to start a worship service but NOT the foundation for a life-giving church plant.
So, how can you know if you are merely starting a worship service versus planting a church that lasts?
You might be starting a worship service rather than planting a church if:
1. You start with the church in mind rather than a heart for the community
If your plant starts with a catchy church name, fancy logo, and aggressive Facebook ads, you might be starting a worship service. Beware – the superficial fluff wears thin after a few weeks to months.
This is the same as a group of people forming a band but don’t know how to play an instrument or sing. They go from daydreams to CD cover design. Sounds ridiculous, yet this is where some church planters find themselves. Hard work and discipline are disregarded as old, outdated, or irrelevant.
My advice: Get real, and seek the Lord. Be honest with yourself regarding the motivations for the church plant.
- Pray and get God’s heart for the area and people.
- Do outreach consistently and serve the community.
- Gather a core group that has the same heart for the lost
- Find a coach that can help you get clarity and speak the truth in love
If you plant a worship service rather than a life-giving church, you will end up like many of the churches that close within the first few years,
2. You spend the majority of your time, budget, and energy focused on weekend services
Weekend services are important. They just aren’t the most important, especially at the beginning of the planting process.
I’ve heard people jokingly say – pastors only work 1 hour a week and get paid! Everyone knows that is far from the truth because there is so much more to pastoring than the 30-40 minutes of preaching from the platform. In the same way that preaching is less than 10% of a pastor’s job description, the weekend service is not the mechanism for relationship and disciple-making.
Sundays (or whatever day you gather corporately) are important, but there is so much more than the weekend service. Keep this in mind when planning and budgeting.
3. You can’t veer from the weekend service “formula”
I understand the need for an order of service. I also believe the Holy Spirit should have His way in our worship services. I believe that we should arrive prayed up, prepared, and ready to worship in spirit and truth. Preachers… be ready to preach. Worship teams should come in, prayed up, and well rehearsed.
If the Holy Spirit prompts you to extend a song, pray for those who are sick, or give a word of knowledge/wisdom to the church family, but you can’t veer from the protocol, then I dare ask – are you actually putting on a show? I understand time restraints for multiple services and attention spans etc.. but I also know about obedience.
If you want to plant a church rather than a worship service, listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and obey without hesitation.