I learned nothing new from this book.
And that’s a good thing!
Because it means that we’re (generally) on the right track in our discussions about church planting as pastors and elders. The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting by Aubrey Malphurs is a basic template for planting just about any kind of church. The steps to planting a church according to Malphurs follow the same basic pattern: define core values, cast vision, mobilize people, and reach a particular area. It’s not groundbreaking.
But sometimes being reminded of the basics is exactly what we need. Here are seven insights that I thought were really important for us as leaders to consider about church planing.
1. Biblical churches don’t exist anymore. Malphurs points out that the local churches started in the New Testament don’t exist anymore. Where is the church of Ephesus? Galatia? Corinth? They’re not around. Organizations have a life cycle (10). Knowing this can help us from deceiving ourselves into thinking that LBC will last forever. It won’t. I think knowing this help us remember that we must be constantly renewing LBC. We cannot be enamored with the organization. Also, it should motivate us to plant a new church. A new church can begin the growth cycle and be alive longer than the original church.
2. Planters must have unique skill sets. Malphurs argues that a “lead planter will usually have most of the following gifts: apostleship, leadership, evangelism, teaching (this includes preaching and communication), and faith” (31). The plurality of elders in the plant need to have gifts which will complement those of the lead planter. Where the lead planter is weak, the elders must be strong.
3. People donate to vision, not needs. People need a clear and compelling vision to inspire them to give financially. People will not generally give to pay bills or support a minister’s salary (45). Donors respond to big visions. Therefore, how the planter communicates financial need is incredibly important. We must always keep the mission (to make disciples) first.
4. We’re doing this already. In the second half of the book, Malphurs lays out the process of getting a plant started. It involved defining core values (chapter 5), figuring out the mission (chapter 6), casting a vision for the church (chapter 7), developing a strategy to reach people (chapters 8-10), and mobilizing the congregation to do the work of ministry (chapter 11). Many of the things that Malphurs talks about in here, we’re already doing, or have done at LBC.
5. Communicate Well. One of the major problems that shows up for a church is failure to communicate to the congregation well. Communication of the vision and values of the church is incredibly important and so Malphurs provides a general communication plan for churches:
- What should communicated?
- Who should communicate it?
- When should it be communicated?
- How should it be communicated?
- Where should it be communication?
- How often should it be communicated?
- Why should it be communicated?
The plan is not earth-shattering by any means. But how many churches actually communicate well consistently? How often do we?
6. Who’s our neighbor? Determining the size of a church’s immediate community can be difficult. In the process, the planter and church should answer the question: “How long will people drive to attend a church? (126). The surveys show that 83% of people drive 25 minutes or less (127). So the most immediate neighbor of LBC is a 25 minute driving radius around. Which is exactly what we have from Woodbridge in the North, to Millstone in the West, to Howell in the East. Truly, the whole of Monmouth County is our neighbor in some sense. Can we narrow this down?
7. The Process is the Plan. All pastors want the congregation to be fully mobilized, but most of the time it doesn’t happen. Why? Because you need a process in place (156). And if you don’t have a person overseeing the process, then it won’t happen. Everything needs intention: spiritual formation, congregational mobilization, good communication. Everything. Without a path, or a process, we will aimlessly spin our wheels.
Relevance to LBC
- We need a process to mobilize the congregation
- Figure out our “target area”
- Develop a communication plan
- Strategize to reach our community